With the madness of the Oscars behind us and summer blockbuster season still a few months away, film enthusiasts face a bit of a lull between the prestige and the popcorn. However, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing for moviegoers to check out this season. In fact, three of the five top-grossing films of 2016 in America were released in the spring (Finding Dory, Captain America: Civil War, and The Jungle Book).
Just like the fall and winter of 2016 saw movies both shot in the Boston area (Manchester by the Sea, Patriots Day) and starring Boston-area natives (The Hollars, The Accountant), 2017’s spring film slate features a number of titles with connections to the region. Here are nine movies coming out in the next few months that Bostonians should know about.
Beauty and the Beast (March 17)
Brown graduate Emma Watson (Hermione from the Harry Potter film series), is back in another children’s film, this time a live-action adaptation of Disney’s 1991 animated classic. Once again, Watson will play a young girl obsessed with books and surrounded by magical items, but instead of Ron Weasley as her paramour, she’ll be wooed by a CGI Beast (Dan Stevens).
Power Rangers (March 24)
Sure, watching five teenagers with attitude fight crime using the ancient powers of dinosaurs is pretty cool, but the most exciting aspects of this ’90s TV show reboot are probably Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Malcolm in the Middle) as the voice of the disembodied Zordon and Pittsfield native Elizabeth Banks as super-villain Rita Repulsa. The photos of Banks in full Repulsa get-up are pretty terrifying, but you have to admit, she looks pretty good for 65 million years old!
Song to Song (March 24 in the Boston area)
Little is known about Song to Song, the newest film from reclusive director Terrence Malick. The film’s log line is, “Two intersecting love triangles. Obsession and betrayal set against the music scene in Austin, Texas.” Based on what is known, though, it’s appropriate that the film will premiere at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin on March 10. Harvard grad Natalie Portman (Jackie, Black Swan), Ryan Gosling (La La Land, Drive), Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class, Steve Jobs), and Rooney Mara (The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) play points on the intersecting triangles.
Gifted (April 7)
Though the stars of Gifted — Sudbury native Chris Evans and Milton native Jenny Slate — are no longer an item, knowing that the onscreen chemistry blossomed into a real-life romance certainly adds a sheen of authenticity to the film. Evans plays Frank Adler, a man trying to raise his math whiz niece Mary (Mckenna Grace) the way his deceased sister would have wanted, as a normal child. Meanwhile, Frank’s mother (Lindsay Duncan) wants Mary to be raised as the genius that she is, and not doing simple arithmetic for her elementary school teacher (Slate).
Free Fire (April 21)
Despite the fact that Free Fire is a gangster movie set in Boston and has Martin Scorsese as an executive producer, don’t expect a remake of The Departed or The Town. If the film is anything like director Ben Wheatley’s most recent effort, High-Rise, there will be plenty of violence and humor, but all contained in a single location — in this case, a warehouse instead of a dystopian luxury apartment. (Sweeping establishing shots of the Charles River or the Zakim Bridge may be few and far in between.) The film features an ensemble cast that includes Armie Hammer (The Social Network, The Lone Ranger), Brie Larson (Room, 21 Jump Street), and Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins, Inception).
The Wall (May 12)
West Newbury native John Cena has been flaunting his comedic talents as of late, showing off his Gronk impression on Saturday Night Live and showing up in films like Trainwreck and Daddy’s Home. But the WWE superstar turned actor — who played a soldier in his big-screen debut in The Marine (2006) — is returning to his action movie roots with The Wall. In it, Cena and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Godzilla, Kick-Ass) are U.S. soldiers pinned down by an Iraqi sniper who is playing mind games with them.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (May 19)
It’s been seven years since Diary of a Wimpy Kid, based on the young adult novel of the same name by Plainville native Jeff Kinney, hit theaters. Since then, Kinney has written seven more books — including The Long Haul, on which the newest film is based — and opened his dream bookstore in Plainville. The Long Haul is the fourth film in the Wimpy Kid series, but features a brand-new cast. Newcomer Jason Drucker plays titular wimpy kid Greg Heffley, who convinces his family to go on a cross-country road trip so he and his brother can attend a video game convention.
Baywatch (May 26)
Priyanka Chopra, who spent some time in Newton as a teenager, is one of many beautiful people on the Baywatch remake lineup, along with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Zac Efron, and Alexandra Daddario. Stars from the ’90s TV show David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson will also be on hand, as well as comedians Hannibal Burress and Rob Huebel.
Set in June 1944, days before the Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, in World War II, Churchill focuses on the tough decisions faced by the British Prime Minister, played by Brian Cox (The Bourne Identity, Troy). The film also features Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow, The Hours) as Churchill’s wife, Clementine, and Boston native John Slattery (Spotlight, Mad Men) as supreme commander of the Allied forces Dwight D. Eisenhower. The official release date for Churchill is still up in the air, but according to Variety, the film’s U.S. distributors are aiming to release the film sometime around the 73rd anniversary of D-Day, which is June 6.