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Coming Soon: A Look Ahead

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(July 7, 2017 – Toronto, ON) In the next few months for a couple of reasons there will be a rapidly increasing list of films being released because A) the film festival “season” begins to ramp up once the kids go back to school and B) the rules for an Academy Award include a deadline as to when films have to be screened in order to qualify. While there are a handful of Canadian films opening soon, including De père en flic 2 which is scheduled for release in Québec on July 13, we’ve decided to look ahead at some of the US films that will be released between now and the end of the year that include some Canadian content, usually a member of the cast.

We found three titles in August, three in September, four in October and two in November. In the always slippery schedule of film debuts, all of what follows could change at any point between today and the dates mentioned below.

Actor and voice actor Will Arnett returns on August 11 with Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature. His voice works supported in this outing by the voices of Katherine Heigl, Maya Rudolph, Bobby Cannavale, Peter Stormare, Gabriel Iglesias, Jeff Dunham and Jackie Chan. The plot is basic. Surly the squirrel (voiced by Arnett) and his friends, Buddy, Andie and Precious discover that the mayor of Oakton City is planning to build a giant amusement park, which means the park where they live will be bulldozed. It’s up to Surly and the rest of the park animals to stop the mayor. Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature is distributed in Canada by Entertainment One.

VVS is the Canadian distributor for the Weinstein Company release, Wind River, which also opens on August 11. It costars Jeremy Renner, Jon Bernthal, Elizabeth Olsen, Graham Greene and Tantoo Cardinal. This 110-minute thriller is from Taylor Sheridan, the screenwriter of Hell or High Water and the Denis Villeneuve helmed Sicario. Sheridan makes his directorial debut with this crime drama. It opens in Canada at the same moment attention remains fixed on the ongoing National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Set in Wyoming, Wind River opens in the middle of the night as a barefoot Native American woman is running across a snow-swept plain. She is clearly running for her life. Her body is discovered by Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), a wildlife officer whose job is to hunt and kill predators, like coyotes and wolves. This time he’s tracking a family of mountain lions, but instead he finds the frozen corpse of Natalie (Kelsey Asbille), an 18-year-old Native American who was once friends with his daughter. An autopsy reveals that she was raped, and that she died because her winded lungs burst from inhaling the sub-zero air as she tried desperately to get away from someone. Finding that someone unfolds with ample quantities of action and tension.
With a title like The Hitman’s Bodyguard, you’d be right to think this is another crime-drama. The film features a high-powered cast including Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Salma Hayek and Elodie Yung. However, The Hitman’s Bodyguard is billed as an action-comedy an Ryan Reynolds brings forth a lot of his Deadpool delivery when he plays Michael Bryce, an “executive protection agent” hired to guard a notorious hitman, Darius Kincaid, played by Samuel L. Jackson who is being held in custody before he testifies at the International Court of Justice. Selma Hayek plays Kincaid’s wife, Sonia. There are issues between Kincaid and Bryce. As Reynold’s character explains, Kincaid tried to kill him 27…28 times! The film is action-packed with lots of funny moments and is a great summer film. Escapism with explosions, violence and humour. What could go wrong? The Hitman’s Bodyguard is also a VVS release in Canada and opens on August 18.

Canadian actor Taylor Kitsch stars in American Assassin, opening September 15. The story follows the rise of Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien), a CIA black ops recruit under the instruction of Cold War veteran Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton). The pair is then enlisted by CIA Deputy Director Irene Kennedy (Sanaa Lathan) to investigate a wave of apparently random attacks on both military and civilian targets. Together the three discover a pattern in the violence leading them to a joint mission with a lethal Turkish agent (Shiva Negar) to stop a mysterious operative (Taylor Kitsch) intent on starting a World War in the Middle East. American Assassin is an Entertainment One release.

On September 22, look for Stronger, costarring Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany, Miranda Richardson and Clancy Brown. Stronger is the inspiring true story of Jeff Bauman, an ordinary man who captured the hearts of his city and the world to become a symbol of hope following the infamous 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. It is Jeff’s deeply personal account of the heroic journey which tests a family’s bond, defines a community’s pride and inspires his inner courage to overcome devastating adversity.

Shot in Toronto in July, August and September of last year, the run up to production actually began in late 2015 when Ellen Page was cast to costar in what most people thought was a remake of Flatliners. Fact is this is not a remake of the original film but a sequel set many years later and includes Kiefer Sutherland from the original 1990 film reprising his role as a now older and wiser, we hope, Dr. Nelson Wright. Nina Dobrev, Diego Luna, Kiersey Clemons costar. Set to open in the United States and Canada on September 29, Flatliners is being distributed by Columbia Pictures.

It is safe to say that Blade Runner: 2049 is one of the most anticipated films of the year. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, the Québec-born director’s profile has been rising steadily since Sicario and his most recent sci-fi outing, Arrival. Set three decades after the original film, Blade Runner: 2049 introduces Officer K (Ryan Gosling), who is a new blade runner for the Los Angeles Police Department. Officer K unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. His discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former blade runner who’s been missing for 30 years. The release of the trailer caused quite a stir as the photography was eerily beautiful. In an interview, Villeneuve stated the story is once again set in Los Angeles, and the Earth’s atmosphere will be different. “The climate has gone berserk — the ocean, the rain, the snow is all toxic”. In addition to Gosling and Ford, the film’s costars include Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Carla Juri, Lennie James, Dave Bautista, Jared Leto and Barkhad Abdi. A Warner Bros. Pictures release set for October 6, look for Blade Runner: 2049 to display its full power when it screens in IMAX cinemas.

Jennifer Lawrence, Domhnall Gleeson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ed Harris and Javier Bardem costar in Mother! directed by Darren Aronofsky. It sounds a bit odd if you just try to judge the film by its short synopsis: A couples relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence. It begins to make sense when you realize its genre is Psychological Horror. Shot in Montreal, Canadian cast members include Stephen McHattie, Laurence Leboeuf, Frank Schorpion, Andre Bérard, Arthur Holden, Bronwen Mantel and others. Mother! is a Paramount Pictures release that opens on October 13th, a Friday of course.

October 20 sees the return of Taylor Kitsch to the big screen, about a month after his appearance in American Assassin. This time it’s Granite Mountain and costars include Granite Mountain Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Josh Brolin, Jeff Bridges, Andie MacDowell, Ben Hardy and Geoff Stults. Directed by Joseph Kosinski, this is a dramatic retelling of the true story of an elite crew of firefighters who fought a treacherous wildfire near Yarnell, Arizona. Ignited by lightning on June 28, 2013, two days later it overran and killed 19 City of Prescott firefighters. The tragedy was the sixth-deadliest American firefighter disaster in history and the deadliest wildfire ever in Arizona. Granite Mountain is being distributed in Canada by Entertainment One.

October 27, closing in on Halloween, brings the horror flick, Jigsaw. Bodies of people who have suffered a gruesome death begin turning up around the city. The evidence in the investigation points to one man: John Kramer, a.k.a. known as Jigsaw. The only problem? Jigsaw has been dead for over a decade. Is he back from the dead? Or is there a copycat on the loose? This is the eighth installment in the Saw franchise. Cast includes Matt Passmore, Callum Keith Rennie, Laura Vandervoot and Tobin Bell.

With November comes the animated family film The Star from Sony Pictures Animation. A small but brave donkey named Bo (voiced by Steven Yeun) yearns for a life beyond his daily grind at the village mill. One day, he finds the courage to break free, embarking on the adventure of his dreams. On his journey, he teams up with Ruth, a lovable sheep who has lost her flock, and Dave, a dove with lofty aspirations. Along with three camels and some eccentric stable animals, Bo and his new friends follow the Star and become accidental heroes in the greatest story ever told — the first Christmas. Other voices include Christopher Plummer, Kristin Chenoweth, Gina Rodriguez, Zachary Levi, Ving Rhames, Tyler Perry, Anthony Anderson, Keegan-Michael Key, Oprah Winfrey, Kris Kristofferson, Tracy Morgan, Gabriel Iglesias and Kelly Clarkson. The Star, distributed by Columbia Pictures, is scheduled to open November 10.
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(Auggie Pullman (Jacob Tremblay) and Isabel Pullman (Julia Roberts) in Wonder, an Entertainment One release. Photo credit: Dale Robinette)
One week later comes Wonder. Based on the New York Times bestseller, Wonder tells the incredibly inspiring and heartwarming story of August “Auggie” Pullman (Jacob Tremblay). Born with facial differences that, up until now, have prevented him from going to a mainstream school, Auggie becomes the most unlikely of heroes when he enters the local fifth grade. As his family, his new classmates, and the larger community all struggle to discover their compassion and acceptance, Auggie’s extraordinary journey will unite them all and prove you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out. Directed by Stephen Chbosky, the impressive cast includes Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Mandy Patinkin and Daveed Diggs. Wonder is being distributed in Canada by Entertainment One and is scheduled to open November 17.

As mentioned, some of these dates may get changed, other movies made get added, some may get shifted to 2018 and one never knows what film festival hits may get inserted into the schedule late in the year.

NOTE: Images and trailers remain the property of their individual copyright holders and are used here with permission of the distributors.