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July 2004

Take Four

A quartet of the summer's biggest movies

Like the sun itself, summer is the time when movies are at their peak, representing approximately 40 percent of annual box-office revenue. Studios aren’t afraid to sink one or two hundred million dollars into a film because they know that during those warm summer months movie-goers are happy to pay. If proof were needed just look at some of the record-breaking statistics for the first Spider-Man film, released two summers ago: biggest single day: $ 43,622,264; biggest opening weekend: $ 114,844,116. With figures like these, summer films just keep getting bigger and bigger, if not necessarily better. Traditionally beginning on Memorial Day weekend in the US (this year May 29–31), a few of the earlier releases, such as Troy, The Day after Tomorrow (both by German directors) and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, have made it to the top and are battling to keep their positions. But there are still a few giants out there ready to move other films down a few notches. Here is a brief description of movie releases in July and August.

The most eagerly anticipated summer releases this year, especially when considering the original’s success, is most certainly Spider-Man 2. Reuniting the director (Sam Raimi) and core cast (Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst), the film follows the adventures of the gentle Peter Parker as he tries to solve the problem of balancing his life as a college student and a superhuman crime fighter. The entertaining story escalates and Spider-Man’s life becomes even more complicated when he comes face to face with his greatest enemy, the brilliant Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina), who has been reincarnated as the maniacal and multi-tentacled Doc Ock.
German release date (subject to change) July 8; US rated PG-13 for violence

Another sequel aimed at youngsters this summer is Dreamwork’s computer-animated Shrek 2, with the wonderful voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, John Cleese and Julie Andrews. The film picks up where the first movie ends. Shrek and Fiona return from their honeymoon to find a letter from Fiona’s parents inviting the newlyweds over for dinner. Not only have her parents yet to realize their daughter has become an ogre, but things are made more complicated still when a fairy godmother finds out about the marriage. She reminds the king of a deal made years earlier, that Fiona would marry her son, prince charming. The king then hires a cat named Puss-in-Boots (Antonia Banderas as a sword-wielding ogre slayer) to kill Shrek. You don’t have to be a kid to appreciate the humor.
German release date (subject to change) July 1; US rated PG for language

No stranger to blockbusters, Will Smith (Independence Day, Men in Black) returns this summer with I, Robot, based on a series of short stories by Isaac Asimov. The film is set in 2035, when robots are common household servants and can be programmed to individual requirements. Smith plays a technophobic Chicago police detective, called to investigate a murder that, it seems, may have been committed by such a robot. As the film develops, it becomes a battle of man versus the machine. Directed by Alex Proyas (Dark City), I, Robot appears to be a mix between Bad Boys and The Terminator, but with a more serious slant.
German release date (subject to change) August 5; not yet rated

From producer Jerry Bruckheimer (Pirates of the Caribbean, Black Hawk Down) and director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) comes King Arthur, a spectacular tale based on the legend of the great king. Starring the relatively unknown Clive Owen as Arthur, and Keira Knightley (Pirates of the Caribbean) as the beautiful and courageous Guinevere, it follows Arthur as he leads his Knights of the Round Table on one last mission to change the course of history. The film promises thrilling adventure, edge-of-your-seat action and historical grandeur and provides unique insight into the story behind the legend.
German release date (subject to change) August 19; not yet rated

Other releases to look out for in July and August are: Duplex (a romantic comedy directed by Danny DeVito, starring Drew Barrymore and Ben Stiller); Godsend (a family drama starring Robert De Niro and Greg Kinnear); The United States of Leland (a drama starring Don Cheadle and Kevin Spacey); The Ladykillers (a crime comedy by the Coen brothers, starring Tom Hanks); Catwoman (a comic book action picture starring Halle Berry); and Garfield: The Movie (a comedy, with the voice of Bill Murray as the troublesome cat).

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