Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The 2015 Showdown Looms

If you thought that this summer was crowded with expensive blockbuster movies, wait until you see what's coming up in 2015. I alluded to this a little in my previous posts on the upcoming movies I've been anticipating, but I don't think I got across the sheer number of major studio franchise films that are coming our way. Here's the current list of announced projects slated for 2015 release dates, with the most notable titles in bold:


Avatar 2
Independence Day 2
Finding Dory (Finding Nemo 2)
The Batman and Superman Movie (Let's count this as Man of Steel 2)
The Adventures of Tintin 2
The Avengers 2
Hotel Transylvania 2
Prometheus 2
Snow White and the Huntsman 2
Inferno (The Da Vinci Code 3)
Kung-Fu Panda 3
The Smurfs 3
Alvin & the Chipmunks 4
Mockingjay Part 2 (The Hunger Games 4)
Jurassic Park 4
Bourne 5
Mission: Impossible 5
Pirates of the Caribbean 5
Die Hard 6
Star Wars Episode 7
James Bond 24


Fantastic Four


The Penguins of Madagascar
Ant-Man (Marvel Universe film)


Assassin's Creed
Inside Out (new PIXAR film)

We're probably going to see some of these movies delayed or pushed back to 2016, which is normal. And many of these titles are going to be holiday or spring releases. However, we're still looking at a summer 2015 schedule that is going to be jammed with potentially massive films. 2013 is turning out to be a summer of what some have dubbed blockbuster fatigue, where audiences have been subjected to so many of these expensive event films week after week, they've had enough. As a result, we've had a string of expensive flops over the past few weeks. In 2015, we're inevitably going to see some big titles flop because there simply isn't going to be enough room for them all to grab the audience's interest long enough to make a profit. Scheduling is going to be a life-or-death matter, and notably we've got a lot of big titles like "Star Wars" and "Superman" still missing from the schedule, and a lot of prime real estate in May not staked out.

Some of the tried and true franchises that have hung in there for years and years, delivering profits, are going to find themselves going bust. I suspect that this may be the end of the line for such dependable moneymakers as "Bourne," "Pirates," and maybe even the old "Terminator" franchise. There are bound to be some dramatic head-to-heads. "Asassin's Creed" is currently positioned against an original PIXAR movie in June, for example, while the next "Bond Movie" is up against "Ant-Man" in November. Remember that with theater prices continuing to go up, there are fewer audience members to go around and people are getting picker about what they want to see. The studios are going to have to do a lot more work to convince us of the appeal of a fourth "Alvin & the Chipmunks" movie, or why we should take a chance on "Fantastic Four." Right now, there aren't that many movies I think are guaranteed to be hits. After "Dory," "Bond," "Star Wars," and "Avengers," it all gets iffy pretty quick.

While the studios are probably going to lose out from the increased competition, this will be good for theater owners who are likely to see more turnout overall thanks to the increase in big titles. Whether this is good for the consumers depends on what kind of a movie fan you are. If you're a fan of these big blockbuster films, particularly anything involving CGI cartoons or superheroes, you'll be spoiled for choice. If you're not, you may have fewer options because the big franchise movies have been crowding smaller films out of the theaters. Personally, I'd consider paying to watch about half of the films I listed in theaters just based on their pedigrees, but I'd only prioritize and make actual efforts to see five of them. Movie reviewers may see their influence grow too, as audience members become more cautious about which movies are worth investing their time and money in.

There have been some significant discussions about the possibility that 2015 may be the tipping point for the current blockbuster model of making studio movies. Steven Spielberg's predictions of more big blockbuster bombs potentially endangering the whole system seem likelier than ever, and 2015 looks like a potential powder keg from that perspective. Still, 2015 is still two years away, and a lot could change in that time. Maybe we'll see "Star Wars" or some of the other big contenders delayed. Maybe the global box office will grow big enough to sustain more of these big films.

Or maybe not. Looking over the list of 2015 hopefuls, I can't help already feeling exhausted. There are so many big movies crowded on that schedule, with so many big names and big characters, it's hard to think of any of them as a special event. The event films just look like the new normal.

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