Remember back in 2005, when George Lucas was making the press rounds to promote Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith and he was all, "Now I can FINALLY make those experimental movies I've been talking about making for 30 years but for whatever reason have never actually made"? Instead of following through with that promise/threat, he financed Red Tails, an action period piece about the Tuskegee Airmen starring Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard. In development since the '80s, in production since 2009 under director Anthony Hemingway (Lucas reportedly directed reshoots himself due to Hemingway's Treme commitments), and set for release on Jan. 20, Red Tails will either benefit from or be overshadowed by Lucasfilm's other 2012 project, the 3-D re-releases of the Star Wars films, beginning with Episode I -- The Phantom Menace on Feb. 10.Soderbergh x 2
If Steven Soderbergh is still seriously considering a "sabbatical" from filmmaking, as he keeps threatening, it doesn't seem like it's going to start anytime soon. As of now he has two directorial efforts due for release in 2012 -- Haywire (opening Jan. 20), a tricky, kinetic action mystery built around superfox mixed martial artist Gina Carano, and Magic Mike (June 29), based on star Channing Tatum's prefame gig as a male stripper.Spike Lee x several
While Red Hook Summer, an independently produced drama set in the titular Brooklyn neighborhood directed by and co-starring Spike Lee, was originally rumored to be a sequel to Do the Right Thing, reports have since surfaced that this is not technically the case -- even if Lee does reprise his role as Mookie from his 1989 film. Either way, Summer's Sundance premiere in January will kick off a busy 2012 for Lee, who hasn't released a feature film since Miracle at St. Anna in 2008. He'll start shooting a Josh Brolin-starring remake of Chan-wook Park's Oldboy in March, and after that reportedly will direct a biopic of former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry for HBO, starring Eddie Murphy, collaborating with Lee for the first time.Damsels in Distress
With four years between dramatic features, Spike Lee has nothing on Whit Stillman, whose last directorial effort, The Last Days of Disco, was released in 1998. After more than a decade of aborted follow-ups and false starts, the Oscar-nominated writer-director (Metropolitan) is back with this quasi-musical about a group of girlfriends (including Greta Gerwig and Crazy, Stupid, Love co-star Analeigh Tipton) and their "distressing" boyfriends (including nouveau nighttime soap hunks Adam Brody of The O.C. and Hugo Becker of Gossip Girl). Both of a piece with Stillman's previous deadpan deconstructions of group social life and infused with a gleeful lunacy heretofore unknown in his films, Damsels is worth the wait.The Dictator
Three years after the disappointing Bruno, Sacha Baron Cohen is back with a fresh character in another Larry Charles-directed comedy. At least, we think it's a comedy -- in typical Baron Cohen fashion, details on The Dictator have been kept under wraps. In what would suggest some kind of a break from the prankish faux-documentary style of Borat and Bruno, Dictator features stars such as Anna Faris and Ben Kingsley playing characters other than themselves. The film is rumored to be based on Zabibah and the King, a romance novel set in the 8th century in Iraq believed to have been secretly written by Saddam Hussein, but it also apparently takes place, at least partially, in modern-day New York. All will be revealed, we guess, on May 11.