The 23 - and counting - big blockbusters of 2015

Feature Simon Brew 18 Jul 2013 - 06:07

Has there ever been a year where so many big blockbusters were confirmed so far in advance? Simon checks out the 2015 battleground...

In truth, there have been several years in blockbuster movie history where it's looked, from the outset, that there are simply too many films for all of them to comfortably fit. As recently as 2011, for instance, the headline battle between The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers left many other very expensive films in their wake.

But 2015 already feels different. Appreciating that you can pick any recent year and find a schedule packed to the gills with costly movies, the difference here is how sizeable many of the films are. Not just in cost, but in stature. Has there ever been a summer, for instance, where Star Wars, Terminator, Independence Day, Fantastic Four, The Avengers and Pirates Of The Caribbean went head to head at the box office? Has there been a slugging match anywhere near that level before?

We'd argue not. Just take a look at the 2015 blockbuster landscape as it stands, because some of these are simply going to get caught in the battle.

Major Franchise Resurrections

Star Wars: Episode VII Independence Day Fantastic Four Finding Dory Terminator 5 Jurassic Park IV

If there's something that already marks out 2015, and the summer in particular, it's the number of franchises that have been dormant for a good decade on the big screen, and are coming back. The big one, of course, is Star Wars: Episode VII, directed by JJ Abrams. As maligned as George Lucas' prequel trilogy was, back in 2005 Revenge Of The Sith pulled in $848m in cinemas worldwide. Take into account more expensive tickets and a 3D premium, and if Star Wars: Episode VII takes less than $1bn, we'd be staggered.

The exact release date for the new Star Wars film hasn't been announced yet (May would be a good guess), but the land rush to grab any possible slot in the schedule is well underway. As such, Fox has already confirmed a rebooted Fantastic Four for March (ahead of Marvel's own releases for the year), it has a belated sequel to Independence Day - 19 years after the original (that worked well for Indiana Jones...) on 3rd July. Universal has delayed its Jurassic Park franchise reboot to what looks like the summer of 2015 (that'd be 14 years after Jurassic Park III), whilst there's a brand new Terminator movie set for the end of June.

As things stand, it's that Terminator film that looks like the risk. As popular as the Terminator movies have been, the most successful at the box office - Terminator 2 - scored $519.8m back in 1991, but it's been a long time since it's threatened to be at that level again. Throw in the fact that, commendably, the producers this time are looking for an R-rated movie, and it's easy to see just how Terminator 5 could end up being squeezed out.

One film that won't be squeezed out is Pixar's Finding Dory. That's currently not due until the end of 2015, but outside of a new Toy Story film (still rumoured, still not confirmed), it's the nearest thing to a sure thing Pixar has on its books.

Big Sequels

The Avengers 2 Pirates Of The Caribbean 5 James Bond 24 The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 The Smurfs 3 Avatar 2? Inferno

If you were asking us to lay money down now, we'd have to suggest that none of the aforementioned franchise resurrections is likely to be the biggest film of summer 2015. Because if you look towards the sequels for more recent movies, then there are three new entries in franchises where the last movie grossed over $1bn worldwide. If James Cameron gets Avatar 2 ready for 2015 - and that's looking a longer shot - then the sequel to the biggest movie of all time will be sneaking in before the year is out as well.

The film to beat, as things stand, will be The Avengers 2, with Joss Whedon reuniting a team of Marvel heroes in the follow-up to the 2012 original that grossed over $1.5bn at the global box office. The Avengers is currently the third biggest film of all time (and the fifth is this summer's Iron Man 3). Unless something goes wrong, The Avengers 2 may even have a stab at being just the third film ever to break the $2bn box office barrier. As things stand, there's no film anywhere near its 1st May 2015 release date, and that's no surprise. Remember how Universal's Battleship did well in its international release, but the studio figured it'd be safe to release it in America after The Avengers was out? Nobody wants to make that same mistake again.

Pirates Of The Caribbean 5, which will try and break a run of three disappointing sequels in a row, has thus placed itself the week after Independence Day 2, on 10th July. The Smurfs 3 is a fair bet for a cool half-billion on 24th July. And even post-summer, there's no shortage of massive sequels. Sam Mendes is directing James Bond 24, and that's coming out, at the moment, the same day as Ant-Man (which we're coming to shortly). We would not be surprised if Marvel blinked there, and gave Edgar Wright's Ant-Man some breathing room.

After all, as it stands, November 2015 seems as jam-packed as any month in the summer, especially when you consider that The Hunger Games cinematic franchise is due to come to a close with Mockingjay - Part 2 on November 20th. December, meanwhile, brings Alvin And The Chipmunks 4, a film that few human beings are excited about, but that many will spend money on.

Sony may yet have pulled the smartest movie: it's got Hotel Transylvania down for September 25th, and that gives it lots of space in the schedule as things stand. It's also just announced the third film based on Dan Brown's Robert Langdon novels, Inferno. Set for December 2015, it'll be looking for a good half billion of change there.

Videogame movies

Assassin's Creed
Warcraft

Outside of the Resident Evil movies, there's been no videogame-based franchise that's consistently delivered at the box office, but two of the biggest attempts to turn that around are both lining up for a summer 2015 release. Both, in the context of said summer, are massive gambles, but we dearly hope that there's room for Duncan Jones' film of Warcraft to snare itself decent returns. Jones' directorial career is two for two as far as we're concerned, off the back of Moon and Source Code, and what he does with a Warcraft project that others (well, Sam Raimi) have tried to get going before will be fascinating to see.

UbiSoft, meanwhile, has several movies in development (including Rabbids and Ghost Recon), but it looks as if its Michael Fassbender-headlined Assassin's Creed is coming first. That's got an aggressive 19th June 2015 release date marked down, and we suspect it's got a hefty job turning out a profitable hit. It will not be a cheap film to make.

Further Big Movies

Ant-Man Cinderella

As the schedule for 2015 fills up more and more, Marvel's Ant-Man film, directed by Edgar Wright, looks to face fiercer and fiercer competition. It marks the starting gun of Marvel's Phase Three of movies, although the fact that it opens opposite James Bond in the US must be a concern. Such was the massive crossover success of Skyfall, that it damaged many films originally deemed not to be in competition with the 007 adventure (the terrific Rise Of The Guardians being a case in point).

Disney's live action Cinderella seems a surer bet. The studio has a franchise of sorts with these films, given that Alice In Wonderland crossed $1bn (with a sequel on the way), and this year's Oz: The Great And Powerful took just shy of $500m. Next spring sees Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie, but Cinderella, directed by Kenneth Branagh, seems like a straight arrow to box office gold. It arrives on March 16th 2015, a week after Josh Trank's Fantastic Four reboot.

The Animated Movies

The Penguins Of Madagascar B.O.O. Inside Out Kung Fu Panda 3 Something From Illumination Entertainment Hotel Transylvania 2

We're loathed to pull out animated movies as a genre in their own right, but there's little doubting the fact that the animated marketplace is as brutally competitive as it's ever been. Who would have thought once upon a time that a Despicable Me sequel would give a new Monsters Inc film such a run for its money?

Appreciating that Walt Disney Animation Studios hasn't yet confirmed the name of its own 2015 release (it does have one though), if you're looking to avoid sequels, it seems as though animation is the place to be. That said, there's the small matter of Finding Dory, Kung Fu Panda 3, Hotel Transylvania 2 and spin-off The Penguins Of Madagascar, each of which should do at least half a billion apiece.

The ones at risk of being trampled out of the way? Pixar's Inside Out for a start, which would be a shame, as it's comfortably one of the studio's most intriguing projects in some time. This is the film that takes place in the mind of a little girl, and it's being co-helmed by Pete Docter, who directed Up and Monsters Inc. He's one of Pixar's core directorial talents.

DreamWorks Animation, too, is trying something non-franchise-y, in the form of B.O.O.: Bureau Of Otherwordly Operations. It's got a whiff of Monsters Inc/University about it, given that it follows a ghost who has to return to school to learn how to do what he's supposed to do better. That said, we thought Turbo would turn out close to Cars at first glance, but as it turns out, they're very different beasts.

The further unknown here is what Illumination Entertainment - of Despicable Me and The Lorax fame - will come up. Might it have its animated take on The Grinch ready for 2015? It'll certainly have something...

Still possible...

What's unusual about 2015 is that so many big films have been announced so far out. There are still others to come. Fox, for instance, may have Prometheus 2 ready for 2015, and there's going to be some comedies, and the odd big film, that gets squeezed in late.

The big unknown is what Warner Bros has up its sleeve for its DC properties. The original plan was to have Justice League ready for 2015, but that's looking a longer and longer shot. Might, however, Man Of Steel 2 be around? We'd expect something with a DC logo on it. [UPDATE: We're going to get it too. Batman Vs Superman has now been confirmed, with Zack Snyder directing].

Also, if you believe Zachary Quinto, the next Star Trek film is set to shoot in 2014, and that would point heavily at a 2015 release. We suspect that's a longer shot though. Paramount's other major franchises may appear too, although Mission: Impossible 5 seems more likely for the end of 2014, and G.I. Joe 3 is anyone's guess right now. Sony, meanwhile, might try and find room for the in-development Men In Black 3, especially if Will Smith is barely appearing in Independence Day 2.

So What's Missing?

Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

We're just coming to the end of a summer blockbuster season where, as much as any other year (if not more so), if you've not at least got a book or comic to hang a film around, you're in deep trouble. Both Pacific Rim and Oblivion headed into cinemas off the back of generally strong reviews, but neither managed half the gross of the widely hated The Hangover Part III. Even G.I. Joe: Retaliation, a film that was delayed and then hammered by critics, took more cash.

Looking at the big movies currently lined up for 2015, there's not one - not a single one - outside of animation that doesn't have the safety cord of something to hang onto. A videogame, a pre-existing franchise, a storybook, something. This may change, but as studios look at what films have made what money this year, it's clear that so competitive is the market for massive movies now, that anything that gives a helping hand in the marketing department is increasingly crucial. Thus, unless you're a James Cameron, a Christopher Nolan or a Steven Spielberg, you either need to be good value or very lucky to get something off any kind of franchise track through the system.

As it stands, 2015's sure-fire hits already include new Star Wars, The Avengers, Finding Nemo, Pirates Of The Caribbean and James Bond movies. And now Batman Vs Superman too. That's going to account for $5bn of takings right there. And that puts the chasing pack, right from the outset, under considerable pressure.

Don't be surprised to see that 2015 schedule jiggled about quite a lot between now and then. And don't be surprised if one or two films at least are shunted to the relative safety of 2016...

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Disney already has two big films out in summer 2015 - 'The Avengers 2' in May and *shudder* 'Pirates of the who-even-cares-anymore 5' in July - I seriously doubt that Episode VII is going to be released in THAT overcrowded a summer schedule. It's very telling that Disney have yet to announce a set release date for the new 'Star Wars' installment, and I've said it here before, but I'm betting Episode VII will be released in mid-December 2015 for the lucrative Christmas holiday market where it will have very little to no real competition amd that which it does have will either be moved or crushed underfoot in the wake of that behemoth hitting multiplexes everywhere...

Of course The Avengers 2 will be renamed Avengers Reassemble for the UK release

Hoping this will be the year that will show studios that they need to go back to original content as the following will bomb bigtime: Pirates, ID , Terminator (allthough still hoping it will be good) , Jurrasic Park, Smurfs and Penguins

A bit off topic but I really wonder, what happend to Disney's Phineas and Ferb movie that was set to be released this summer in stead of Thor: The Dark World? Or is that movie pushed back or something in favor of The Lone Ranger?

Avengers - Some assembly required.

The sad thing is - the bigger the movie, the less interesting they become. Looking at that list it's amazing how bland so many of those potentially great flicks may end up due to blockbuster pressure from studios.

You didn't include the Ratchet and Clank movie, that's due for 2015. (Shame, as I think R&C might fail compared to all this)

The Avengers: Assemble Yourself - Sponsored by Ikea.

The only film in that list I'm looking forward to is Bond 24. Mostly because Sam Mendes is in charge again and he seems to be steering the franchise in the right direction imo. I'll probably also go watch Pirates 5. At Stranger Tides wasn't perfect but it was fun and it was still way better than the dire At World's End. Also the Warcraft film could be fun. I haven't played the RPG but with Bowie jr on board it could actually turn out to be quite a good film. (Bowie sr is dark lord perhaps?)

Hasn't Men In Black 3 already been released????

It'll be a shame to see the Star Wars films break with the May tradition if that happens. 2015 is a ridiculously packed year, though...we'll see.

the only one people will be really watching (weather you want it to succeed or fail) is Star Wars - no other film that year will be as egerly waited for or cautioned against, have to live up to peoples expectations, or make as near a profit as Stars Wars will have too.
What ever your opinions are, I am hopefully and looking forward to it

Not sure I'd class The Smurfs 3 as a "big sequel". Rather, a "depressingly inevitable" sequel.

I hope it comes out in May 2015. It's traditional.

Star Wars Episode IV - 25th May 1977

Star Wars Episode V - 21st May 1980

Star Wars Episode VI - 25th May 1983

Star Wars Episode I - 19th May 1999

Star Wars Episode II - 16th May 2002

Star Wars Episode III - 19th May 2005

Other traditions Disney should stick to include, the 3 year gap, and the first and third film in the trilogy having the same release day.

Yes it has. I think Simon meant MiB 4.

Hopefully they will also go back to the tradition of making a really great trilogy, instead of the total and utter garbage of the prequels.

Dudes, I am SOOOO overwhelmingly excited for 2015. And these are just some of the films we know about, with many more to be announced, I'm sure. (Shame I'll be turning the big Four Oh!)
And, if any of ya'll care, I'm quite enjoying this year film wise...

ANT MAN!!!! bond is rubbish... took them 23 tried for smth i felt was still substandard? skyfall was the only relatively big hit. a doubt they can replicate that with the masses. only other movie iim interested in besides antman is of course the avengers 2, finding dory, penguins, kung fu panda 3, hotel transylvania 2, and pirates 5. the rest are just meh....

I know what you mean but my God man you sound miserable. "The band I like just doesn't seem to be the same now that everybody likes them." Cheer up.

I'll probably end up watching at the cinema and enjoying about half the movies on the list. I'd just love to see something new though.

And the first and the 3rd film being the same story ?
Another fine Lucas tradition.

A New Hope - Luke escapes the desert planet joins the rebel alliance and blows up The Death Star.

Return of The Jedi - Luke and friends escape the desert planet and join up with cuddly Teddy Bears and blow up a Death Star

Then there is...

Raiders Of The Lost Ark - Indiana Jones and friends race the Nazis for a biblical treasure

Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade - Indiana Jones and cuddly Teddy Bear, Sean Connery, race the Nazis for a biblical treasure.

See what he did there ?

Before anyone gets up in arms, I loved all those movies.

I'm hoping that the sequel trilogy is more in tune with the original trilogy than the prequels.

May the 4th be with you

Star Trek is filming in 2014 so JJ Abrahms can fit it in so they can release it in 2016 for the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek.

AntMan , I know nothing about it, it sounds like one superhero Idea too far, sounds like they just ran of ideas

Can't believe Jaws 19 didn't make the list...

Marvel's Ant-Man character has been in comics since the 1960s.

The Smurfs 3? A Big Sequel? Really??

There's none there that really, really excite me. I'll see the Avengers films, and SW VII is more an intrigue than a must see.

Lots of the rest are new installments in franchises which don't have the legs to keep making interesting and original films. (Hunger Games aside, obviously).

PotC 5? Really? Really?!

KFP3? Blimey, that franchise didn't have enough ideas to film one film, let alone two more on top. They used to whack that kind of thing out on £5.99 DVD in supermarkets, now they charge you £10 a ticket for it.

Otherwise, Bond is Bond, Terminator will be dreadful like the last 2 outings, the video game films will be painful, they usually are. And Finding Dory will be largely boring but the Nemo fans will go crazy over it none-the-less.

Can we have a 2015 Indie/Alt release calendar next please?

Don't hope T5 will be good, don't do that to yourself.

Expect it to be awful, then if it's half good you'll be surprised and pleased.

You guys are killing me!

I reckon Star Trek's more likely for 2016, in time for the 50th anniversary.

You forgot Tintin 2

Isn't it obvious that Star Trek 13 will actually be released in 2016 and not in 2015, for the 50th anniversary ?? And where is Jaws 19 ???

Hollywood is gonna implode in 2015.

MIB 3 already came out. In 2012 so don't have to worry about it in 2015. Unless you meant MIB 4.

I stil lcan't believe ANYONE wants an antman movie, even one done by edgar wright. He's a c list superhero more useless then aquaman in a dessert less well known then just about any one in the marvel universe. I'd much rather have an aquaman movie or even another Phantom movie then antman. the only interesting thing about him is that he's an abusive husband who beats and belittles his wife and only cares about showing himself off as smarter then the other marvel geniuses (ie mr fantastic, tony stark, etc....)

sure but he's always been one of the minor of minor characters. there are far more known and interesting characters to work with then antman. he's a genius, invented a device that lets him shrink, then he reversed it to make it grown, now it does both, oh and he can control ants. A land based low rent version combining the worst of aquaman and Captain Atom.

And now Superman vs. Batman... 2015 is the most competitive year ever...

There is a test screen on youtube that is worth watching...!

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