Just imagine, fellow film fans: By the end of this year, not one but two movies filmed in Oklahoma could well be top contenders for Academy Awards and other cinematic prizes.
Just let that knowledge soak into your Sooner State psyche for a second.
After premiering at the Venice and Toronto film festivals, Bartlesville-bred writer/director Terrence Malick's romantic drama “To the Wonder,” starring Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Javier Bardem and Olga Kurylenko, is opening in theaters in April.
Although no firm date is set, the star-studded adaptation of Tulsa native Tracey Letts' Pultizer Prize- and Tony-winning “August: Osage County” also is due out in 2013. Produced by George Clooney and Harvey Weinstein, the movie counts Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin, Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch among its acclaimed cast.
In addition, Duncan-born director Ron Howard returns with his first film in four years, the fact-based racing drama “Rush” in September; Putnam City North graduate James Marsden appears opposite Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg in the crime drama “2 Guns” in August; and Choctaw native Ryan Merriman co-stars with Harrison Ford and Chadwick Boseman in the Jackie Robinson biopic “42” in April.
Plus, Superman, Iron Man, Thor, Katniss Everdeen, the Wizard of Oz, Bilbo Baggins, John McClane, Ron Burgandy, The Lone Ranger and the crew of the Starship Enterprise all will be back in action on the big screen in 2013:
“Arrested Development” fans can help count down to the May return of the long-dormant cult hit when Jason Bateman stars in this road-trip comedy in which a mild-mannered businessman searches for the person who stole all his personal information. Melissa McCarthy, of “Bridesmaids,” co-stars in this comedy from director Seth Gordon, who previously worked with Bateman on 2011's “Horrible Bosses.” (Feb. 8)
“A Good Day to Die Hard”
Smirky, wisecracking Bruce Willis is back as smirky, wisecracking New York supercop John McClane in the fifth installment of this action franchise, which takes our baldheaded hero to Russia to help out his wayward son (Jai Courtney), only to discover that sonny is a CIA agent working to stop a nuclear weapons heist, compelling dad to team with him against the bad guys. John Moore (“Behind Enemy Lines”) directs. (Feb. 14)
“Jack the Giant Slayer”
“X-Men” director Bryan Singer's latest big movie concerns a young farmhand (Nicholas Hoult, “X-Men: First Class”) who accidentally plants an enormous beanstalk that allows beastly giants to wreak havoc. Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci and Bill Nighy will join the fairy-tale fray. (March 1)
“Oz the Great and Powerful”
Since “The Wizard of Oz,” the epochal 1939 classic version of L. Frank Baum's story, Hollywood has tried several times to recapture that film's vivid, indelible magic, but most of those projects (Sidney Lumet's “The Wiz,” Walter Murch's 1985 cult film “Return to Oz) failed to meet expectations. But director Sam Raimi's “Oz the Great and Powerful” looks like it could strike closest to the original's sense of wonder thanks to advanced technology, a similar color palette and performances by James Franco, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz. (March 8)
As “30 Rock” draws to a close, Tina Fey's film career takes center stage with this comedy about a Princeton admissions officer who suspects that an alternative-school applicant is the child she gave up for adoption. “Admission” co-stars Paul Rudd and is directed by Paul Weitz, who includes the excellent “In Good Company” and “About a Boy” in his filmography alongside, um, “Little Fockers” and “Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant.”
“The Incredible Burt Wonderstone”
Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi and Jim Carrey will attempt to conjure comedic gold as magicians competing for supremacy on the Las Vegas Strip. Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin and James Gandolfini will co-star, and 12-year-old Oklahoma City native Mason Cook will play the younger version of Carell's title character. (March 15)
“Olympus Has Fallen”
Gerard Butler plays an ex-Secret Service agent who is the only hope for salvation in a thriller described as “Die Hard” in the White House, when terrorists take over 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”) directs, while Morgan Freeman, Dylan McDermott, Aaron Eckhart and Ashley Judd co-star. (March 22)
“The Twilight Saga” may have run its course, but writer/director Andrew Niccol (“Gattaca”) is ushering best-selling author Stephenie Meyer's other otherworldly novel onto the big screen. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons, Diane Kruger and William Hurt, the sci-fi/romance centers on a parasitic extra-terrestrial “Soul” that is injected into one of Earth's last remaining alien-free humans, Melanie Stryder (Ronan). Instead of following her species' mission of taking over Earth, the alien bonds with her host and sets out to help other free humans. (March 29)
“The Place Beyond the Pines”
A motorcycle stunt rider turned bank robber (Ryan Gosling) and an ambitious police officer (Bradley Cooper) anxious to climb the ranks of a corrupt police department clash in a drama that unfolds over 15 years, leaving their respective sons (Dane DeHaan, Emory Cohen) to deal with the consequences of their shared legacy. Derek Cianfrance (“Blue Valentine”) directs and cowrites. (March 29)
“G.I. Joe: Retaliation”
Jon M. Chu (“Step Up 2”) directs this sequel to 2009's “G.I. Joe.” A holdover originally set for 2012 release, the follow-up boasts additional star power in the form of Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis. Chu told Slashfilm that he grew up playing with G.I. Joes and hopes fans of the toy/comic book/animated show will give the second film a shot. Channing Tatum returns as Duke, and Ray Park is back as the silent ninja Snake Eyes. (March 29)
“To the Wonder”
Filmed in and around Bartlesville, Pawhuska and Tulsa — and Mont Saint-Michel, Manche, France — by reclusive and enigmatic film director Terence Malick (“Days of Heaven,” “The Tree of Life”) in the summer of 2010, this potential awards-grabber stars Olga Kurylenko as Marina and Ben Affleck as Neil, a couple who meet in France and move to Oklahoma to start a life together, but find complications when Marina meets a priest (Javier Bardem) who is struggling with his vocation, while Neil renews a relationship with childhood sweetheart Jane (Rachel McAdams). (April 12)
Writer-director Brian Helgeland's (“A Knight's Tale”) baseball drama chronicles Jackie Robinson's (Chadwick Boseman) historic breaking of the sport's color line. Harrison Ford plays legendary Brooklyn Dodgers President and General Manager Branch Rickey, who signed Robinson; Christopher Meloni portrays outspoken team manager Leo Durocher, who makes a stand on behalf of the pioneering athlete; and Oklahoma native Ryan Merriman plays right fielder Dixie Walker, who opposes Robinson joining the squad. (April 12)
Tom Cruise stars as a drone repairman on a post-apocalyptic, war-torn earth. When he rescues a beautiful stranger from a spacecraft, his world is thrown into chaos. The film is directed by Joseph Kosinski (“TRON: Legacy”), who created the story as well. (April 19)
“Iron Man 3”
Robert Downey Jr. slips back into the heavy metal suit of Iron Man to play billionaire playboy Tony Stark for the fourth time (or fifth, counting an “Incredible Hulk” cameo). This time, Shane Black takes the director's seat to helm the superhero's battle against Marvel Comics baddie the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts and Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine also return. Jon Favreau, who directed the series' first two installments, will appear as Stark's driver, Happy Hogan. (May 3)
“The Great Gatsby”
The fifth attempt to adapt F. Scott Fitzgerald's most celebrated novel to film stars Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role of the enigmatic, nouveau riche playboy; Tobey Maguire as the Long Island neighbor, Nick Carraway, who is drawn into Gatsby's dangerously decadent world; and Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan, Carraway's cousin and Gatsby's old flame. The 1920s-period drama is directed and cowritten for the screen by “Moulin Rouge!” helmer Baz Luhrmann. (May 10)
“Star Trek into Darkness”
J.J. Abrams (“Lost”) returns to direct the second post-reboot “Trek” film, featuring Chris Pine as Captain James T. Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock. Benedict Cumberbatch (“Sherlock”) is on board as a mysterious villain. In the film, the Enterprise is called back to Earth after a terrorist act, but Kirk strikes out on his own on a manhunt to capture a destructive force. (May 17)
“The Hangover Part III”
The “Wolf Pack” reunites to console Alan (Zach Galifianakis) over a death in the family, and the party reignites in Las Vegas and accelerates in Tijuana. Todd Phillips directs and cowrites again, and Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Justin Bartha are back in their cups, as well. (May 24)