Ricky Gervais is back at the Globes, a summer blockbusters bloodbath is forecast, Spielberg hits a double and the Comcast-NBCU merger is to become reality
Strap yourself in, 2011 looks to be a rollercoaster of a year. Blockbusters, mega-mergers, contract showdowns, Terrence Malick returns and Steven Spielberg has two movies on deck … and that's just a start.
Here’s TheWrap's Top 11 we picked to plan your ride.
1. RICKY GERVAIS HOSTS THE GOLDEN GLOBES
The first time he did the job last January, he openly joked about the zero-credibility of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. With a Jan. 16 encore gig coming on the heels of more HFPA scandals and some ridiculous nominations, will he have the cojones to completely devour the hand that feeds him? He just might.
2. WGA CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS
SAG, AFTRA and the DGA went meekly, but once again the Writers Guild promises to put up a fight. The battle between the guild and producers should reach fever pitch in the spring, when the current deal is set to expire on May 31.
3. BLOCKBUSTER BATTLE
Lots of people are looking forward to Zack Snyder’s “Sucker Punch” (pictured right) when it comes out on March 25, but the real box office death match is in the summer when a barrage of blockbusters will fight for audiences and their money.
Marvel debuts with “Thor” on May 6. Johnny Depp is back with “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” on May 20. “Hangover 2,” with its Bill Clinton cameo, comes out May 27. There’s a new “X-Men” on June 3, Warner Bros. has Ryan Reynolds’ “Green Lantern” stopping evil on June 17, “Transformers 3” is out July 1 and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2” ends the franchise on July 15.
Marvel’s back building their Avengers portfolio with “Captain America: The First Avenger” on July 22 and Jon Favreau’s “Cowboys and Aliens,” starring Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig, lands on July 29 — and there’s still more after that. Whew!
4. ANOTHER CBS NEWS SHAKEUP?
The "Early Show" team will be replaced Jan. 3, and Katie Couric's contract expires at the end of May. Though she says she's happy where she is, CNN and NBC are reportedly interested. Will CBS need a new evening anchor along with its new morning team? Could that be good news for ousted morning man Harry Smith, who's already been designated Couric's "Evening News" backup?
5. SUPERMAN / THE CROW
Krypton’s finest and the urban legend are the hottest open parts in Hollywood right now. Director Zack Snyder is said to be looking for a muscular man between the ages of 30-40 to play the Man of Steel. Will Warner Bros. go with an established star or an unknown? Meanwhile, Relativity Media and producer Ed Pressman will soon announce who will star in their reboot of "The Crow." Brandon Lee originated the iconic role before his untimely death in 1993 and whoever lands the part will have some big shoes to fill.
6. DOUBLE SPIELBERG
The Oscar-winning director will spoil audiences with not one but two films next year – though the offerings couldn’t be more different. Spielberg is currently in post-production on the performance-capture film "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn," (pictured right) which is set for release on Dec. 23. Just five days later, DreamWorks will release his WWI drama "War Horse." Unlike this year, the holidays in 2011 will be a gift for serious-minded moviegoers.
7. BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY
The sequel to 2009’s acclaimed and best selling “Batman: Arkham Asylum” video game is scheduled to come out in Sept. 2011. Watch this trailer and see while you’ll be playing it when it does.
8. COMCAST-NBCU MERGER
The FCC seems almost certain to approve it. The question is how many conditions it may impose. Skeptics of the merger want the commissioners to ensure that Comcast can't give preferential treatment to programming it owns over programming it doesn't. Good luck. No matter what happens, some networks will say they aren't getting a fair shake.
9. STEVE BURKE
The No. 2 honcho at Comcast boasts a resume crammed with stellar performances. But as uber-boss of soon-to-be Comcast-controlled NBCU, can he continue his past string of successes in 2011? Yes, if Burke can do what senior executives at Time Warner and Viacom, among others, have renounced: vertically-integrate a behemoth cable company and entertainment giant into a distribution-content juggernaut. (Check this take: Steve Burke: The Exorcist for What Ails NBCU)
10. "TREE OF LIFE"
He's already disrupted two consecutive awards seasons with his on-again, off-again release plans, but auteur Terrence Malick is probably finished with his long, long-awaited "Tree of Life." Brad Pitt! Sean Penn! (pictured right) Gorgeous, moody photography! Dinosaurs??? Coming in May. We think.
11. NET NEUTRALITY GETS ANOTHER DAY IN COURT
Despite fierce congressional opposition, Federal Communications Chairman Julius Genachowski unveiled news rules of the road last December aimed at keeping the internet open and free. In trying to interject the FCC in the debate on how to best ensure that cable providers don't enact tolls for digital content, he essentially ignored a U.S. Court of Appeals decision last summer that said the commission has never been given authority to regulate the internet. With Comcast and others already introducing new fees for premium service, it's only a matter of time before the FCC's new regulations end up in court, and the commissioner may not have a legal leg to stand on.
Johnnie Roberts, Tim Molloy, Jeff Sneider, Dominic Patten, Daniel Frankel, Brent Lang and Steve Pond contributed to this article.