Yesterday I listed the first half of my ten personal highlights of the upcoming movie year that involve cast members of The Lord of the Rings. If you found the list even vaguely interesting, read on for what will hopefully be five more of the most successful films of 2003.

The Pirates of the Caribbean
July 9th – Official SiteIMDb – Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley

Originating from the DisneyWorld anamatronic ride of the same name, no punches have been pulled in ensuring that The Pirates of the Caribbean is one of the biggest hits of 2003, with Disney providing the project a huge budget and casting some top-notch acting talent. Orlando Bloom stars as the first-mate to Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow, who sets sail across the seas in an attempt to prevent Captain Blackheart and his pirates reversing an ancient curse that makes them appear as pirates in the moonlight. Disney are already talking about making the film into a ride if a success…

The Riding of the Laddie
TBC 2003 – No Official Site – IMDbChristopher Lee, Vanessa Redgrave, Sean Astin

Thirty years after The Wicker Man went down in movie history as one of the most chilling and provocative horror pieces ever created, star Christopher Lee has teamed up with original director Robin Hardy and The Lord of the Rings co-star Sean Astin for its sequel: The Riding of the Laddie. Its title referring an ancient Scottish ceremonial security check of an area’s boundaries, The Riding of the Laddie follows two American born-again Christians coming to preach in a Scottish village. Hopefully the sequel will match the cult status of its original.

April 11th – No Official Site – IMDb – Paul Walker, Frances O’ Connor, Gerard Butler, Billy Connolly, Marton Csokas

One of the most eagerly-anticipated movies of 2003, many people are looking forward to see how well Lethal Weapon director Richard Donner adopts Jurassic Park and ER scribe Michael Crichton’s critically-acclaimed novel of 1999, in which a group of archaeological students are trapped back in the 14th Century France in an attempt to rescue their similarly stranded Professor. Marton Csokas plays homicidal and maniacal knight Robert Dekere after impressing in Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones and xXx.

Veronica Guerin
May 9th – VeronicaGuerin.comIMDbCate Blanchett, Colin Farrell, Brenda Fricker, Ciarán Hinds

Despite being one of the most talented actresses in Hollywood, Cate Blanchett isn’t afraid to take on small projects as well as the big; just look at her recent roles in Charlotte Gray, Heaven and The Shipping News. In Joel Schumacher’s Veronica Guerin, Blanchett once again plays an incredibly strong female role as she depicts Irish investigative journalist Veronica Guerin, who in 1996 was assassinated by drug dealers. Expect nothing but the finest performances from Blanchett, Farrell and co.

X-Men 2
25th April – X-Men-The-Movie.comIMDb – Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry

Once can’t help but feel that Sam Raimi and friends owe Bryan Singer a small bit of thanks for the incredible success both financially and critically of Spider-Man last year. If it wasn’t for Singer’s X-Men in 2000, which reaped the benefits of a up-and-coming director, a superb cast and a screenplay supported by die-hard fans, recent projects like Spider-Man, DareDevil and Hellboy wouldn’t be in production. Simply put, X-Men put comic-book-based movies back on the Hollywood map. Ian McKellen reprises his role as antagonist Magneto in what should be, with a bigger budget, bigger cast and an excellent script, one of the biggest hits of 2003.

Other Noteworthy Projects Of 2003
The Big Empty – Sean Beans stars alongside Jon Favreau and Kelsey Grammer in this movie about a budding actor facing a stalled career and mounting debts.
Emile – Ian McKellen plays Emile, an elderly man who’s attempt to reconcile with his last living relation envokes powerful memories of how he isolated himself from his family in the past.
The Great Ceili War – Bernard Hill leads a host of Ireland’s finest acting talent and Band of Brothers star Phil Barantini in a film by accomplished UK director John Irvin.
Jersey Girl – Liv Tyler features alongside Matt Damon and Hollywood’s hottest couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez in this star-studded comedy.
The Last Ride – Cate Blanchett works with her estranged father, played by Tommy Lee Jones, to retrieve her kidnapped daughter.