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10 Wide Releases In 2012 That Exceeded Expectations

Written by on December 12, 2012 

Premium Rush (David Koepp)

If you watched the trailer or even saw images of Joseph Gordon-Levitt on a fixed gear, you didn’t have a poor excuse for skipping this film. It’s a shame that the studio couldn’t sell the simple concept of putting JGL on a bicycle in the middle of New York City and having bad-cop-in-debt Michael Shannon on his trail. Released in the mostly dry month of August, Premium Rush is loads more fun than it has any right to be, with clever use of the bicycle dynamic, taut set pieces that utilize physical sets and practical effects, and a story with a more intriguing structure than one would have guessed. With the film now gearing up for a home release, this one makes for a perfect, breezy rental. – Bill G.

Mirror Mirror (Tarsem)

This update on the fairytale Snow White gets the award for the biggest jump in quality from marketing to final product. Delivering what I’d consider to be the worst trailer of the year, I was shocked at Tarsem‘s delightful, visually gorgeous take on this classic story. While it’s certainly whimsical and sways within a kiddie demographic, there is much to love in this warm-hearted approach, including a splendidly evil Julia Roberts and a swashbuckling Armie Hammer. After leading the bottom-of-the-barrel Abduction last year, it was also wonderful to see the charms of Lily Collins put to good use in the shoes of this iconic character and I’d take this adaptation over the summer’s Snow White and the Huntsman any day. – Jordan R.

Sinister (Scott Derrickson)

If you based your expectations solely on director Scott Derrickson‘s previous film, the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, then this must have been quite a treat for you. His haunted child movie had him return to the territory he seems most comfortable in: conjuring up scares, slowly and effectively. The Exorcism of Emily Rose filmmaker bounced back quickly with Sinister, and let’s hope he delivers more films like it in the future — although his upcoming adaptation of Deus Ex will see him in vastly different territory. – Jack G.

Ted (Seth MacFarlane)

As someone who gets little enjoyment out of the work of Seth MacFarlane, I was extremely hesitant about his big-screen feature debut Ted. While I’ve come to appreciate Mark Wahlberg‘s comedic side in films like Date Night and The Other Guys, the trailers for this one produced little laughs. Although the final product is far from a knock-out success, there’s a good amount to admire in this story of a grown man and his best friend, who just so happens to be a talking teddy bear. There was clearly a lot of love on the globe as well, as Universal had a massive, unexpected hit on their hands with a record-setting $500 million-plus gross. If anything, this debut made us a lot more confident in the theatrical prospects for MacFarlane. – Jordan R.

The Woman In Black (James Watkins)

With the exception of the film’s spooky teaser trailer, The Woman in Black didn’t seem to be on many people’s radar. It had Daniel Radcliffe, but an old-fashioned, English period horror piece isn’t what we all expect to make for a box-office hit. We were proved wrong, as director James Watkin’s (Eden Lake) and screenwriter Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass) made quite the lavish and spooky horror movie out of the acclaimed novel. Add in a hefty $125 million-plus worldwide haul, and we can see why this is getting the sequel treatment. – Jack G.

What wide release films surprised you most in 2012? Did they make the cut?

Follow our look back at 2012: The Year In Film.

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