In 2011, Iron Man (I and II) director Jon Favreau called the summer of 2011, “a bloodbath for Hollywood” because of the number big-budget special effects films, remakes and sequels. Pfft! Wait until you get a load of next year. The amount of big-budget sequel fare and remakes set for 2015 from the major studios is mind-boggling and add to that highly anticipated films such as Fifty Shades Of Grey and another Quentin Tarantino film in the same year and you have all the makings for the biggest movie going year in history. The year is even going to start out hitting the ground running with audience-familiar titles, but it’s the summer and holiday season of 2015 that will be packed like no other — which brings up serious questions about what will happen as some of the biggest franchises in history collide? Remember, these films need major market exposure on over 2,500-3,000 screens or more to open big and some of them hope to play for weeks. This is going to be a star-studded war. I guess it was inevitable when studios ride out the franchises as far as they do now … what are we on Mission: Impossible 5 and Fast & Furious 7 now? And we have another Star Wars on our hands.
The year 2015 will go down in the books as the World Cup of franchise players: Avengers: Age Of Ultron vs. Mad Max Fury Road vs. Fast & Furious 7 vs. Jurassic World vs. Terminator: Genisys vs. Fantastic Four 3D, Marvel’s Ant-Man vs. Untitled Bourne Identity, and then James Bond vs. Star Wars vs. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 vs. Mission: Impossible 5 for top film of the year.
In kid fare, parents should be ready to be pulled to the theater time and time again (sacrificing much-needed sleep) with Cinderella, Monster Trucks, The Penguins Of Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda 3, The Jungle Book, Alvin And The Chipmunks 4, Peanuts, The Smurfs 3, Tomorrowland, and SpongeBob 2.
Practically every genre in 2015 is looking at proven titles: The year will start with the typical early year horror film fare — again no stopping franchise names — Amityville from Dimension and Frankenstein starring Daniel Radcliffe both in January, and Friday the 13th and Poltergeist. That will be followed by Fifty Shades Of Grey, based on the mega-selling book by EL James, which bows in February before the floodgates open again on sequels and remakes.
The plethora of franchise titles will likely push the 2015 box office to record-breaking heights as this year’s holdovers from the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday fare — such as The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 (which bows on November 21), Fox’s Night At The Museum 3 and Sony’s Annie and Warner Bros’ The Hobbit: There And Back Again (or should it be called The Hobbit: Here It Comes Again) will also add to the huge overall gross numbers of 2015.
“This is the box office equivalent of the hundred-year flood,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Rentrak. “What’s going to have to happen is that the marketplace is going to have to expand to accommodate these films, and if it doesn’t, there will be films that get left out in the cold. These are all the top titles of these various franchises so they are required viewing for fans. You have James Bond, Hunger Games, Star Wars, Terminator, Mission: Impossible, Fast & Furious, The Avengers — the likes of which I have never seen in my career of over 20 years.” And I’ll add to that, Superman v Batman and Marvel’s Ant-Man — I haven’t seen anything like it either. And I didn’t include titles from Michael Mann or Tarantino, Snow White And The Hunstman 2 or the next Dwayne Johnson film. There, I just did.
Marvel’s The Avengers had the biggest opening weekend of all time with $207.4M in the first weekend of May 2012 and they are going out on the same release date next year. Even one of these franchise properties can suck all the air out of the box office weekend, but in 2015, it will be a battle to breathe. “Everyone is staying away from Avengers,” said one distribution exec at a major studio. “Everyone’s looking at what are the pictures you need to avoid. Some of these pictures will open huge and then burn. They won’t get the same multiples the previous ones did. Some of them will burn quicker. It’s going to be tricky to navigate through those waters. It’s pretty crazy, there’s no doubt about it.”
Studio distribution executives will continue to change dates and jockey throughout the year. Who will blink? Fox did yesterday, running away from Fifty Shades Of Grey with its romancer The Longest Ride … but then dropped in MGM’s Poltergiest to compete for moviegoers on the year’s biggest date night of Valentine’s Day which falls on a Saturday this year. It also moved Night At The Museum 3 up a week and it now goes out on the same date as The Hobbit: There And Back Again.