Roll up for the big movies of the year: here are the most eagerly awaited cinema releases

Attention cinephiles – 2019 is shaping up to be a strong year for people who still like to get their entertainment thrills as a shared experience in a movie theatre rather than streaming alone at home. Across the spectrum, from comic book adaptations that have in recent years become staple fair at the cinema, to lavish literary adaptations, there’s plenty to induce you to splash out on the price of a ticket and large popcorn this year.

Disney’s Second Golden Age

Sumptuous live-action remakes of Disney classics have been a dominant trend for several years now. This is likely linked to the fact that in the streaming age, it can take the promise of an all bells-and-whistles visual extravaganza to entice audiences to fork out the admission cost.

We had Cinderella in 2015, The Jungle Book in 2016 and Beauty and the Beast in 2017. This year there are not one but three big-ticket Disney remakes set for release; two of them animal themed. The animated story of the circus elephant, Dumbo, who can fly, was first released by Disney in 1941, and remains one of the best-loved works in the Disney canon. Now it’s been given a new lease of life by the master of gothic fantasy, Tim Burton, in a new version starring Eva Green, Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton and Danny DeVito, with the magic of CGI stepping in to portray the flying elephant. To be released in the spring.

A couple of months later, a live-action 3-D Aladdin hits the multiplexes and IMAX cinemas. This re-imagining of the 1992 film is directed by Guy Ritchie and will star Will Smith as Genie, Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine and Egyptian actor Mena Massoud as Aladdin.

Then in mid-summer, it’s time to get your hakuna matata on. The Lion King 2019 is not a live-action remake, but thanks to the magic of photo-realistic CGI techniques, promises to bring the full texture and intensity of life on the savannah to the screen. There’s no shortage of big-names on the cast list too, with Donald Glover playing Simba, Seth Rogen as Pumbaa, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar and Beyonce Knowles as Nala. Jon Favreau, who marshalled The Jungle Book from concept to a box office smash which took almost $100m, directs.

Inspired by Life

Leading the charge in biopics and movies based on true events set for release next year is Rocketman, which sees the colourful life of Elton John adapted into film. British actor Taron Egerton stars as the piano-playing star who went from the Royal Academy of Music (where he was a young prodigy) to dominate rock arenas all over the world.

Director Adam Kay takes on rather more hard-hitting material in Vice, a film which examines factors which contributed to the contemporary political climate in the US. Christian Bale stars as Dick Cheney, following his rise to power and bid to become the most powerful vice president in American history. Bale, known for his immersive approach to roles, is almost unrecognisable as Cheney, and Oscar-buzz is already building around his portrayal. Amy Adams also stars.

Mel Gibson and Sean Penn, two of Hollywood’s most senior and respected male actors, are as known for their fiery behaviour off-screen as their professional successes. This year, they’re teaming up to star in The Professor and the Madmen, which tells the curious and little known story of Professor James Murray, who complied the first edition of the Oxford English dictionary for which he collaborated, surprisingly with a man who was a long-term patient at Broadmoor lunatic asylum. The film is directed by Farhan Safinia, who worked with Gibson on the thrice-Oscar nominated 2006 film, Apocalypto.

Literary Delights

Fans of classic modern literature will no doubt be rushing to the cinema as The Goldfinch hits the screens this year. Based on the Pulitzer-prize winning novel by feted American author Donna Tartt and set for release in October, this sprawling art-forgery mystery focuses on a young boy who is taken in by a wealthy Upper East Side family after he survives a terrorist attack in an art museum, during which his mother is killed. The book has been adapted for the screen by British screenwriter Peter Straughan, and stars Nicole Kidman and rising American actor Ansel Elgort.

Cate Blanchett stars in Where’d You Go Bernadette? an adaptation of the hit novel of the same name by American writer Maria Semple, which spent a year on the New York Times bestseller list after its publication in 2012. Bernadette Fox is an agoraphobic architect living in Seattle, where she enjoys an apparently happy family life with her husband (played by Billy Crudup) and daughter. One day, Bernadette disappears without a trace, launching her family on an adventure as they try to find her.

“Radiant, riveting… this is the firebrand Colette that Keira Knightley plays with every fibre of her being.” So said Rolling Stone of Knightley’s portrayal of the French writer Colette, in the eponymous film. Colette’s books were the toast of belle-epoch Paris and beyond. It was her husband, Willy (played in the film by Dominic West) who got the credit for her work most of her life, however, as most of her early works were published under his name. The film follows her adventures from rural France to the literary salons of Paris, and plots her awakening as a writer and a woman, becoming one of the most scandalous and celebrated figures of her time.

All Star Extravaganzas

You can always count on Quentin Tarantino to draw the big stars and Once Upon A Time in Hollywood is no exception. Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie star alongside Damian Lewis and Dakota Fanning in Tarantino’s latest mystery-crime drama centred on the gory story of the Manson murders – in which pregnant actress Sharon Tate and three friends were slain in Tate’s home in Hollywood by members of a cult led by Charles Manson. It is the first film in Tarantino’s career which will not be distributed by the Weinstein company. Harvey Weinstein was the director’s long-time collaborator but Tarantino severed links at the end of last year in the wake of sexual abuse allegations against the celebrated producer.

Another year, another superhero movie. And in 2019, mega-buck franchise, the X-Men, will get a fresh outing at the multiplexes as the 12th instalment of the X-Men films hits screens this summer. James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender and Nicolas Hoult lead an all-star cast.

‘Dumbo has been given a new lease of life by the master of gothic fantasy, Tim Burton’

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