Film in 2016: A look ahead
- 25 December 2015
- From the section Entertainment & Arts
From Star Wars to Spectre to Jurassic World, the box-office tills in 2015 have rarely stopped a-chinging.
Records tumbled like ninepins as cinemas bruised by 2014's lacklustre takings got the perfect pick-me-up: namely, one must-see blockbuster after another.
There's little doubt this year will be the most lucrative on record in terms of grosses and ticket sales. The question now is whether 2016 has enough in its locker to match it.
The answer? Probably not - though there are still more than enough so-called "tentpole" releases to keep exhibitors, distributors and cinema chains comfortably out of the poorhouse.
In terms of box-office behemoths, it's hard to look beyond 25 March and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the eagerly anticipated, long-delayed face-off between the Caped Crusader and the Man of Steel.
With Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor also along for the ride, Zack Snyder's film is a powerful statement of intent from DC Comics, who also have Suicide Squad - a vehicle for its potent stable of comic-book villains - lined up for a 5 August release.
Marvel Entertainment, DC's fiercest rival, will be hoping its lucky streak continues with Captain America: Civil War (29 April), especially with the new Spider-Man - teenaged Brit Tom Holland - joining the ranks of the all-conquering Avengers.
They will also be hoping the same audiences who flocked to see Robert Downey Jr's Iron Man will be just as happy to watch Benedict Cumberbatch cast spells in Doctor Strange (28 November) in the Sherlock star's new guise as the so-called "Sorcerer Supreme".
With additional outings for vigilante Deadpool (4 February), mutant card-sharp Gambit (7 October) and the rest of the latter's brethren in X-Men: Apocalypse (19 May), comic-book aficionados will be more than sated over the next 12 months.
As this year's Fantastic Four reboot showed, though, superhero films are no longer a sure thing - especially in a marketplace where they are increasingly becoming the rule rather than the exception.
On the subject of the fantastic, you might already be aware of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (18 November), a return to the Harry Potter universe that will introduce Eddie Redmayne as curious wizard Newt Scamander.
Warner Bros are so confident of the spin-off's success that it has already green-lit two sequels, set for release in 2018 and 2020 respectively.
Star Wars will have a spin-off of its own in December with the release of Rogue One, a prequel of sorts that will dramatise events briefly referred to in the 1977 film that started the franchise.
For those who prefer their sequels a little less brain-taxing, the year will also see returns for Ben Stiller's Derek Zoolander (19 February), Renee Zellweger's Bridget Jones (16 September), Matt Damon's Jason Bourne (29 July), and the crew of the Starship Enterprise in Star Trek Beyond (22 July).
Sequels, it appears, come in all shapes and sizes, be they pugilistic (Rocky continuation Creed, 15 January), dystopian (The Divergent Series: Allegiant, 11 March), phantasmagorical (Alice Through the Looking Glass, 27 May) or belated (Independence Day: Resurgence, 24 June).
The world of animation, meanwhile, has sequels of its own in the form of Kung Fu Panda 3 (11 March), Ice Age: Collision Course (15 July) and Pixar's Finding Dory (29 July).
This will be a year, in short, in which pretty much every multiplex-bound title seeking to separate us from our hard-earned will have some form of brand awareness or pre-existing cultural association.
These days you can make a movie out of anything, from a computer game (Angry Birds, Assassin's Creed) to a TV series (Absolutely Fabulous, Dad's Army) to - whatever next? - a classic or best-selling novel (The Jungle Book, The Girl on the Train).
You can even make a new movie by re-tooling an old one. Witness the conspicuously Keanu Reeves-less Point Break (12 February), the all-female Ghostbusters (15 July) and Disney's new version of Pete's Dragon (12 August).
Then again, if they can remake Ben Hur (12 August) and The Magnificent Seven (23 September), they can virtually remake anything.