2010 Preview: Tron: Legacy
Release Date: Dec. 17 (in Disney Digital 3-D)

Studio: Buena Vista

Genre: Sci-Fi Action

Director: Joseph Kosinski

Writer: Adam Horowitz, Richard Jefferies, Edward Kitsis, Brian Klugman, Steven Lisberger, Lee Sternthal

Cast: Garrett Hedlund, Jeff Bridges, Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner, Michael Sheen, John Hurt, Beau Garrett

Studio Description: Sam Flynn (Hedlund), the tech-savvy 27-year-old son of Kevin Flynn (Bridges), looks into his father's disappearance and finds himself pulled into the same world of fierce programs and gladiatorial games where his father has been living for 25 years. Along with Kevin's loyal confidante (Wilde), father and son embark on a life-and-death journey across a visually-stunning cyber universe that has become far more advanced and exceedingly dangerous.

Watch the Trailer

Analysis: Tron, a movie perceived to be ahead of its time with its computer-based virtual reality, was considered a box office disappointment in 1982. In the shadow of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, it made $33 million, or the equivalent of over $85 million adjusted for ticket price inflation. A decent amount of people saw it in theaters, but not enough to make it profitable nor match the hype surrounding its release. Tron was one of the first movies to use computer-generated imagery, and it was released before computers had become the ubiquitous household items we know today. Almost three decades later, its long-awaited sequel, Tron: Legacy, is scheduled for release Dec. 17, fueled by fan nostalgia.

Tron: Legacy follows the adventures of Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), the son of Tron's main character Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges). Mr. Bridges, who is winning nearly every acting award this winter for playing a former country music star in Crazy Heart, reprises his role in Legacy, providing (along with returning Bruce Boxleitner) some continuity for fans of the original, while new stars Hedlund and Olivia Wilde look to draw the younger crowd unfamiliar with Tron.

The Tron: Legacy marketing campaign was launched before the movie had been green-lighted. A test reel was brought to the San Diego Comic-Con in 2008 and was met with overwhelming approval from those in attendance. Walt Disney Pictures then decided to make the movie, and the same clip, with overhauled CGI, was shown at last year's Comic-Con. Despite this strong early push, it's hard to tell if Tron is a property a substantial number of moviegoers are still interested in. The other '80s revivals being released this year (The A-Team, The Karate Kid, Red Dawn, Clash of the Titans, A Nightmare on Elm Street) face a similar problem. By the time Tron: Legacy gets its release, though, most of these movies will have run their course, and it will be more apparent if '80s fever is on at the box office.

Another potential issue is whether the virtual reality aspect of Tron: Legacy has been played out in the last few decades. Specifically, The Matrix followed a similar structure, as people entered in to a computer-based virtual reality in those movies as well. While the first and second Matrix movies made $171.5 and $281.6 million, respectively, audience interest had waned by the third movie, The Matrix Revolutions, which only banked $139.3 million. However, this is more likely attributed to the perceived decline in quality that took place from The Matrix to Reloaded and then Revolutions.

Tron: Legacy is heavy on C.G.I., was made in 3-D and will be released in mid-December . These three qualities are shared with Avatar, which recently broke all-time box office gross records. It would be tough to imagine Tron: Legacy reaching anywhere near those heights, though, especially with a jam-packed 2010 3-D slate that will likely leave audiences a little jaded to the technology. However, if Disney avoids marketing Tron: Legacy as just another C.G.I.-heavy adventure and instead as a December event movie featuring a classic story and impressive visuals, they could see solid returns.

Related Movies: Tron, The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions, Avatar, Virtuosity, Johnny Mnemonic, WarGames, Terminator: Salvation, Speed Racer

Related Charts: Man v. Machine, Virtual Reality

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'Matrix' Enters the Record Books with $134 Million in Four Days

'Matrix' Still Top Choice with Moviegoers

'Revolutions' Loads $28M Worldwide on Thursday

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2010 Preview