Looking ahead to the big blockbusters of summer 2016

Reboots, videogame adaptations, and a few long awaited sequels are all due for release next year

Now that Fast & Furious 7 has formally opened summer blockbuster season 2015 up, it’s time for us to take our traditional look at the big movies gracing multiplexes this time next year.

2016 is set to be a pivotal summer, too. There are big movies in both the DC and Marvel cinematic universes. Warner Bros is looking to launch the first of six King Arthur movies, whilst Universal may get cracking with its classic monster cinematic universe. And – yep – we may even get the world’s first great film based on a videogame.

Summer blockbuster season 2016 stretches from March through to August, and here’s what treats are lined up. Please note, we’ve gone with US release dates, for the purposes of this feature, as that’s where most of the films will debut first.

Warcraft – March 11

The curtain-raiser for next summer’s blockbuster season is the eagerly-awaited third film from director Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code). And we’re backing him – no pressure – to make the first ever really good movie based on a video game.

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For he’s steering the long in gestation Warcraft project to the big screen, and it looks as if little expense has been spared. The film has been in post-production for some time, and Jones has co-written the script, along with Charles Leavitt. Ben Foster and Paula Patton lead the cast. And whilst the exact story is under wraps, and footage has been in, well, no supply, we suspect this may end up being one of 2015’s must-sees.

The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Part 1 – March 18

Two films in, and the Divergent movies, charitably, seem content to be ordinary. The first, directed by Neil Burger, set things up reasonably well. But Robert Schwentke’s Insurgent hardly turned up the heat. Instead, it was a long recap following by some stuff about a box. Thank goodness for Shailene Woodley, else the Divergent films would really be in trouble.

Schwentke is back to direct the opening part of the third book, Allegiant. Allegiant rounds off the story of Tris, although since the movies starting coming, author Veronica Roth has penned a prequel by the name of Four. That may well end up on the big screen too in due course.

Here’s hoping Allegiant takes the basic concept of Divergent and does something more interesting with it. Certainly, the ending of Insurgent, at the least, does set things up for a more intriguing adventure.

Kung Fu Panda 3 – March 18

DreamWorks Animation picked up lots of negative stories early in 2015, as it streamlined its production faciltiies, laid off staff, cut costs, and trimmed the number of movies it’s been planning to make. And then Home – a film of which not much was expected – turned out to be its biggest hit since The Croods.

Kung Fu Panda 3 was originally set to be released in December 2015, but DreamWorks moved the sequel out of the way of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. As such, its new slot should give it a better chance of box office gold.

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Not that the odds are stacked against it anyway. The first two Kung Fu Panda movies both hit big, and the third sees Jennifer Yu returning to direct. Furthermore, the second film left things primed for a third movie to pick up. Which it will. Jack Black is back as the voice of Po, too.

Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice – March 25

Ladies and gentlemen, the DC movie universe effectively starts here. Ostensibly the sequel to Man Of Steel, this is nonetheless the film that reintroduces a fresh Batman (Ben Affleck), and brings to the screen new iterations of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), Alfred (Jeremy Irons), quite possibly The Flash (Ezra Miller) and maybe some of the Suicide Squad too. How much of it becomes a Superman story remains to be seen.

Zack Snyder directs this one (from a script by Oscar-winning Argo writer, Chris Terrio), before jumping onto the two-part Justice League movie. And the next five or six years of Warner Bros’ blockbuster output is hinging on Batman v Superman being a success. No pressure, Zack.

The Jungle Book – April 15

The first of two competing live action Jungle Book projects, this is the Disney one, and thus it’s a sort-of-live action updating of the animated classic. Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Swingers) is directing, and his voice cast for his CG animals includes Ben Kingsley, Christopher Walken, Idris Elba and Scarlett Johansson. There’s one live action character in the movie, with newcomer Neel Sethi playing Mowgli. Justin Marks has penned the script.

The Huntsman – April 22

The Snow White And The Huntsman sequel, that just happens to drop the Snow White part of the story. As such, there’s no Kristen Stewart this time around. Instead, the story is going to centre on Chris Hemsworth’s Huntsman, with Charlize Theron returning too as the villain. Jessica Chastain, Emily Blunt, Nick Frost, Sheridan Smith and Alexandra Roach are also aboard.

Frank Darabont was once going to direct this one, and he’s likely to keep a screenplay credit. But it’s Cedric Nicolas-Troyan who will be calling the shots now (marking his feature directorial debut). We understand that reports suggesting The Huntsman is a prequel may be incorrect, incidentally, but we won’t find out for certain until next April…

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Things kick off in earnest when we get to May…

Captain America: Civil War – May 6

If Batman v Superman is pivotal to the future of the DC movie universe, then Captain America: Civil War is hardly without significant for the Marvel equivalent. In terms of character introductions alone, here’s where we’re likely to meet Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther, and the new Spider-Man. But crucially, this sets in motion events that lead to Avengers: Infinity War.

Furthermore, the film is no small event in itself. It’s set to pit Chris Evans’ Captain America against Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark for a start, and major ramifications are expected. We’ll stay spoiler-free here, but we looked in more detail about the expected impact of Captain America: Civil War here

Joe and Anthony Russo, who more than earned their Marvel stripes with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, return to direct this one. Expect fireworks…

Friday The 13th – May 13

It’s become tradition ever since The Conjuring earned many monies to schedule a horror movie in the midst of summer blockbuster season. 2016’s first (but not the last) will be the latest reboot of Friday The 13th.

Little is known of this one so far, outside of the fact that David Bruckner is directing, and Hannibal co-producer Nick Antosca is re-writing the screenplay.

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Neighbors 2 – May 13

Depending on where you live, the sequel to the Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne and Zac Efron-headlined hit of 2014 will either be called Bad Neighbours 2 (UK) or Neighbors 2 (US). A very profitable hit for Universal the first time around, the sequel will reunite the lead trio, and Nicholas Stoller is back to direct, too. No further details are known at this stage, though.

Angry Birds – May 20

The animated adventures of Angry Birds will form a full movie from Sony next summer. Promisingly, Disney veteran Clay Kaytis (who worked at the studio from Pocahontas through to Frozen) is co-directing, along with Fergal Reilly (who worked on the likes of Osmosis Jones and The Iron Giant as a storyboard artist).

The voice talent here includes Peter Dinklage, Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad and Maya Rudolph. The UK release for this one is currently set at 1st July.

The Nice Guys – May 20

Warner Bros, to its credit, keeps greenlighting summer movies that are neither franchise flicks or sequels. In 2016, therefore, it’s given Shane Black (Iron Man 3, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) a pot of cash to bring The Nice Guys to the screen.

The film stars Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, and it’s described as a noir crime drama that’s set in 1970s Los Angeles. Mind you, it’s got one week to make its mark at the box office, because the following week, these duelling juggernauts arrive…

Alice In Wonderland: Through The Looking Glass – May 27

Tim Burton’s 2010 live action take on Alice In Wonderland may not have too many people who list it in their top ten movies, but it still grossed over $1bn at the global box office.

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Burton’s not around for the sequel, Through The Looking Glass, and instead Disney has handed the job to The Muppets and Muppets Most Wanted director James Bobin. Johnny Depp, Anna Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska and Helena Bonham Carter lead the cast, with Linda Woolverton on screenplay duties.

X-Men: Apocalypse – May 27

The biggest direct battle at the US box office in 2016 is the showdown between Alice In Wonderland 2, and Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days Of Future Past follow-up.

Days Of Future Past is the highest grossing X-Men movie to date, and Apocalypse is set to round off the trilogy of movies that begin with Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class. Thus, this may be the final time we see the likes of Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence in the X-Men movie universe (unless they sign extended contracts, of course).

Singer is packing the film once more, with Oscar Isaac playing Apocalypse, whilst Ben Hardy is expected to play Angel, Kodi Smit-McPhee is Nightcrawler, Sophie Turner is Jean Grey, Tye Sheridan is Cyclops and Alexandra Shipp is Storm. Rose Byrne is back too, after sitting Days Of Future Past out.

Big things are expected from Apocalypse – and given the broadening out of the cast, it’s likely to set up whatever the next film in the series is, too…

Keep going for the blockbuster releases scheduled for June…

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 – June 3

The film that may well be actually called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Half Shell, this is the sequel to the commercially very successful 2014 reboot. This time, Jonathan Liebesman is passing the director’s chair on to Earth to Echo‘s Dave Green. Megan Fox and Will Arnett are returning, whilst Arrow‘s Stephen Amell will be playing Casey Jones.

Don’t bet against this being the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film to break the $500m mark at the global box office…

The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist – June 10

This summer, James Wan has Fast & Furious 7 in cinemas (which is really rather good). In 2016, he returns to horror, with a sequel to The Conjuring, which itself snagged $318m off a $20m production budget back in 2013.

The sequel is going by the name of The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist, and the writers of the first movie, Chad and Carey Hayes, have penned the second. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga will be reprising their roles too.

It’s going to be loosely based on a true story once again, and production starts this summer. For the purposes of clarity, the Enfield in the title does indeed refer to the London suburb. Maybe this is the start of a London Suburb Cinematic Universe?

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Now You See Me: The Second Act – June 10

Lionsgate has reassembled the core cast from 2013’s surprise hit Now You See Me for its sequel. Thus, we get more Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Jesse Eisenberg here. Isla Fisher isn’t returning, though, so Lizzy Caplan takes her place. Director Louis Letterier isn’t back either. Instead, Jon M Chu (G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never) is calling the shots.

The big new addition to the cast, outside of Caplan, is Daniel Radcliffe. The plot remains under wraps for now.

Uncharted – June 10

Not content with giving us one big shot at a quality videogame movie in 2016, Hollywood is delivering a second. It’s in the form of Sony’s long, long awaited Uncharted, which sadly won’t have Nathan Fillion on board. The internet tried, though.

Seth Gordon is directing, from a script by Thomas Dean Donnelly, David Guggenheim and Joshua Oppoenheimer. However, physical production hasn’t yet started on the movie, nor has the lead role in the film been cast. As such, we’d class Uncharteds chances of meeting that 10th June release date at 50/50 right now, and dwindling. Don’t be surprised if it gets bumped until later in the year…

Central Intelligence – June 17

The new film from Dodgeball and We’re The Millers director Rawson Marshall Thurber, Central Intelligence is one of 2016’s higher profile comedies. The cast is led by Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson, and the plot follows a man who reconnects with an old chum through Facebook, only to find that he’s lured into the world of espionage. See? Spy thrillers really are all the rage right now.

Central Intelligence co-stars Ed Helms. Expect it to make cash.

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Finding Dory – June 17

Following the ups and downs of 2012’s John Carter, Andrew Stanton is back in the halls of Pixar, making a follow-up to the hugely-successful Finding Nemo.

This time, the focus is going to be on Ellen DeGeneres’ Dory, and we’re promised that Dory is going to learn the true meaning of family. Angus MacLane, a man with a real Pixar pedigree behind him, is co-directing (he did the Toy Story short, Small Fry, as well as Toy Story Of Terror).

Independence Day 2 – June 24

20 years after Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day first dominated the global box office, he’s back for another go. This one’s a sequel that’s been chatted about pretty much since the first film took off, and the only surprise is that it’s taken so long to get here.

Will Smith has passed on the chance to return, although Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman will be reprising their roles. Newcomers for the sequel include Liam Hemsworth, Vivica A Fox and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Carter Blanchard is working on the latest draft of the screenplay, and the film will pick up some time after the events of the first.

The Mummy – June 24

The Mummy is the effective starting point for Universal’s planned classic monsters cinematic universe. Jon Spaihts (Prometheus) has been working on the script, and Alex Kurtzman will be directing.

However, this is another movie where we wonder if the announced release date may yet move. To the best of our knowledge, physical production is some way off starting for the new The Mummy, and no casting has been announced. Consider this one written down in pencil so far…

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And now we’re headed to July…

The BFG – July 1

Steven Spielberg is making his first big, broad family blockbuster in a long, long time with his adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The BFG. The movie will star Mark Rylance in the title role, and Bill Hader, Ruby Barnhill and Marilyn Norry are in the cast too. The screenplay is coming from Melissa Mathison, who of course penned E.T. for Spielberg decades ago.

It may not have a Roman numeral in the title, but given how loved the book and Roald Dahl’s writing are, The BFG should translate to a big, friendly hit movie.

The Purge 3 – July 1

There was just over 13 months between the release of the first The Purge movie and its superior sequel, The Purge: Anarchy. There’s a bit more breathing space this time around though, and writer/director James DeMonaco will be picking up the idea of the Purge, and telling another story in that world.

With a bit of luck, there’ll be room for Frank Grillo again in this one, and The Purge 3 – which it’s unlikely to end up being called – is set to start shooting shortly, ahead of its summer 2016 release. If DeMonaco can keep channelling John Carpenter in the next film, he’ll be onto a good thing too…

Tarzan – July 1

Harry Potter director David Yates is in post-production on his live-action telling of the Tarzan story. His film stars Alexander Skarsgard in the title role, with Margot Robbie as Jane and Christoph Waltz as Captain Rom. Samuel L Jackson and John Hurt are also on board this one.

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Perhaps the only doubt over the project is its release date as things stand. Will Warner Bros really release this opposite Spielberg’s The BFG? We’d be surprised if there wasn’t a release date shuffle in the coming months…

Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates – July 8

A pretty expressive title that one, for the search engine optimisation era. Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates stars Zac Efron and Adam DeVine, as a pair of brothers who, well, need to find dates for an upcoming wedding. So they, er, take out a personal ad.

Anna Kendrick is co-starring here, and Jake Szymanski is directing.

Star Trek 3/Star Trek 13 – July 8

With Star Trek arriving at its 50th birthday in 2016, this new film will come with no shortage of expectation. Add in the fact that it’s the first Star Trek movie since the death of the mighty Leonard Nimoy, and that it’s also got some repairing work to do amongst fans following Star Trek Into Darkness, and the pressure’s on.

Simon Pegg and Doug Jung are writing this one, and their script will be entirely independent from an earlier draft by Roberto Orci. Furthermore, Justin Lin – who’s helmed four Fast & Furious movies – will be taking over directing duties from JJ Abrams. The core cast – Chris Pine, Pegg, Zoe Saldana, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin – are all back. Idris Elba has already been linked with a villain role.

Ice Age 5 – July 15

Here’s some trivia for you. The last two Ice Age movies have both grossed over $850m at the worldwide box office. Make no mistake: this is one of the biggest animated franchises on the planet.

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Ice Age 5 has Michael Thurmeier returning to direct, alongside debut feature helmer Galen T Chu. No plot details have been released, but expect no shortage of Scrat, Manny et al, and enough money to make greenlighting Ice Age 6 the easier decision in Hollywood.

Ghostbusters – July 22

If you’re looking for the 2016 movie that’s already attracted the most intense internet backlash, then surely Paul Feig’s new Ghostbusters film is it. As you more than likely know, the new film is being headlined by Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Katie McKinnon and Leslie Jones. Feig and his The Heat writer Katie Dippold have penned the script. We’ve some possible story spoilers right here.

There’s not much more we can add, short of that Ghostbusters will start shooting later this year. Call us contrarians, but we still suspect Paul Feig may deliver here…

King Arthur: Knights Of The Round Table – July 22

Warner Bros is, if you believe the reports thus far, planning up to six King Arthur movies in what it’s targeting as its latest franchise. The first, Knights Of The Round Table, is directed by Guy Ritchie, and stars Charlie Hunnam in the title role. Joining him in the cast? Jude Law, Eric Bana, Annabelle Wallis, Astrid Berges-Frisbey and Djimon Hounsou.

Job Harold has penned the screenplay. Again, don’t be surprised if Warner Bros jiggles the date here, to keep it away from Ghostbusters

Power Rangers – July 22

The live action reboot of Power Rangers is currently scheduled for 22nd July too, and this one has been penned by Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz (who did initial work on X-Men: First Class).

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Given that there’s no director or cast that’s been announced, Lionsgate may yet buy itself a little more time where Power Rangers is concerned. But for now, it remains in its July release slot…

Jason Bourne 4 – July 29

The fifth Bourne movie will be the fourth starring Matt Damon as Jason Bourne. It’s not just Damon returning either, as director Paul Greengrass – who helmed The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum – is back for this one as well. The story’s being kept under wraps, but we do know that when this one is done, Jeremy Renner will be back as Aaron Cross in a separate film that follows up The Bourne Legacy.

And last but not least, we get to the August releases…

Suicide Squad – August 5

Summer blockbuster season is destined to extend to August forevermore by the looks of it, and it won’t have been lost on Hollywood that Guardians Of The Galaxy made a mint in a late summer slot.

Warner Bros has thus slotted David Ayer’s Suicide Squad film at the start of the month. This one introduces and reintroduces DC villains to the screen, most notably Jared Leto as The Joker, and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. Also on board are Will Smith, Cara Delevingne, Scott Eastwood, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. Production on the movie starts this very month…

Sausage Party – August 12

Seth Rogen has another new comedy out, although this time, he’s going to try and not get us all killed. Sausage Party is an animated movie aimed at older audiences (translation: it’s got swearing and dick jokes in it), and he’s written it with regular collaborator and attempted world-ender Evan Goldberg.

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Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon are directing, with voice work coming from Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Salma Hayek and Edward Norton, amongst others.

Pete’s Dragon – August 12

And let’s end with another Disney movie being remade: Pete’s Dragon. The original 1977 flick was a hybrid of animation and live action, and you can expect the same again. This time, David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) is directing, and his cast includes Bryce Dallas Howard, Wes Bentley, Robert Redford and Karl Urban.