In the overcrowded world of blockbuster releases, “The biggest movie of the year!” is the most clichéd of the promotional chest thump. But what would be “the biggest year for movies”? There’s many a strong contender...
How about 1982 with ‘E.T.’ and ‘Blade Runner’? 'Pulp Fiction’, ‘Forrest Gump’, and ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ all hailed from 1994. Or why not 1997? ‘Men In Black’, ‘The Lost World’ and the massive ‘Titanic’? It’s a line-up to be remembered.
Movie lore has it, however, that 1999 is the year to beat – and for fairly obvious reasons. It spoilt us silly with ‘The Sixth Sense’ and the much-needed ‘Toy Story 2’, we got the first ‘Matrix’ movie, Oscar magnet ‘American Beauty’ and then there was the cinema seat-wetting anticipation for the return of ‘Star Wars’ with ‘The Phantom Menace’. (Don’t mention Jar-Jar.)
But what if the best is yet to come? Ladies and gentlemen, for your consideration, we give you the year 2015.
Our crystal ball is practically fit to burst with all the massive movies due for release in two years' time. And while it might seem oh so far away, we’re going to need that time to prepare.
Here’s a crucial briefing for what could end up being the most important 12 months in movie history…
The Avengers 2
What to expect: With superhero sequels the answer would usually be 'more of the same', but Joss Whedon is cold on the idea that bigger means better for 'The Avengers 2'. According to the director it'll be "more personal" and "more painful", but he'll still have room for some new heroes, including brother-and-sister double-act Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. After the mid-credits tease in the last movie, villain Thanos is expected to play a part, but word is he'll be saved for 'Avengers 3', leaving a vacancy for an interim villain. It starts shooting in January 2014… but who will Joss kill this time?
Star Wars: Episode VII
What to expect: A new hope for 'Star Wars'. After a lengthy search for filmmakers with cojones big enough to take on the granddaddy of all movie franchises, Disney decided on JJ Abrams – a man who knows a thing or two about space operas. Details are scarce, save for a leaked casting call requesting – shock – men and women of various ages, but it's a safe bet that Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher will reprise their roles. Disney are planning a 'Star Wars' movie every year: Episode VII is just the beginning. As long as JJ steers clear of Jar Jar, we're with him every parsec of the way.
What to expect: The most successful movie of all time? That's a fair assessment, given that James Cameron's last two movies are sitting pretty at the top of the all-time box-office chart. Unsurprisingly, given his love of all things wet, Cameron will explore the oceans of Pandora in his 'Avatar' sequel, and plans to shoot movies two and three back-to-back. Cameron is currently working on the film's novel first before he builds a film off the back of it. Sigourney Weaver reckons her dead doc will return; Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana's Na'vi will definitely be back and aiming to outdo their $2 billion box-office take in 2009.
Pirates Of The Caribbean 5
What to expect: More yo'ing, more ho'ing and definitely more mincing. Johnny Depp is confirmed to return as Captain Jack Sparrow, while Norwegian duo Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg have landed the directing gig – they're the pair behind Pacific survival epic 'Kon-Tiki', perhaps explaining their appointment. Jeff Nathanson is working on the screenplay, his first since 'Tower Heist' and – ulp – 'Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull'. No word on the film's plot yet, but count on it being as adventurous as it is expensive.
What to expect: The brave souls at Paramount have reached into Arnie's nooks and crannies to push his reset button: 'Terminator' will be back in 2015, but in reboot form. Touted as the first movie of a new trilogy, the new Terminator will no doubt use time-travel trickery to explain the inclusion of the 66-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is rumoured to be extremely close to signing on (to the film, not for a pension). One rumour claimed Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson was attached as the new killer bot from the future, and that the film would be set in the 1940s, which would be a welcome change from all the gun-metal grit and shouty testosterone of 'Terminator Salvation'.
Die Hard 6 aka Die Hardest
What to expect: Singularly failing to get the Terminator gig, unstoppable killing machine John McClane will soldier on with the 'Die Hard' franchise, resolutely refusing to die hard or otherwise. The screenplay is currently being written by Brit Ben Trebilcook, with the working title of 'Die Hardest' (not Die Harderer as we'd hoped). According to Trebilcook, Die Hard 6 sees McClane travel to Tokyo: "It is extremely faithful to the franchise and characters and is a natural progression," he says. "I feel it could be the 'Rocky Balboa' of the Die Hard franchise." So the last one, then?
Jurassic Park 4
What to expect: DINOSAURS! If we can't have John Sayles' bonkers JP4 script, in which genetically modified, gun-toting biped dinos scoured the Earth, then the screenplay from Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver ('Rise of the Planet of the Apes') will have to do. Allegedly, 'Jurassic Park 4' sees the realisation of John Hammond's dream, debuting a fully operational dinosaur theme park on Isla Nublar. Expect underwater dinos entertaining crowds à la Sea World and 'tamed' dinosaurs under human control that help contain the inevitable hubristic disaster we all know is coming.
Independence Day 2
What to expect: Disappointment, if you're a Will Smith fan – the former Fresh Prince is apparently "too famous" and "too expensive" to return to the movie which launched his film career, according to director Roland Emmerich. Thankfully, the price was right for Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman, who will return. The movie will allegedly examine the ramifications of a society who have lived through an alien invasion, but we bet that's just a smokescreen for mass destruction on an intergalactic scale – any landmarks that Emmerich hasn't already totalled should be on full alert.
What to expect: Pixar don't make sequels lightly, so you know Andrew Stanton must have floated a cracking idea to get the 'Finding Nemo' follow-up green-lit. As the title suggests, this time it's Ellen DeGeneres' absent-minded flounder that goes AWOL, with Marlin (Albert Brooks) and his funky-finned son Nemo (Alexander Gould) on the chase. Expecting nothing less than a cornucopia of colourful characters and corals in what's bound to be one of the most heartfelt and best-looking movies of the year.
Mission Impossible 5
What to expect: 51-year-old maniac Tom Cruise shows no sign of slowing down, so don't expect Ethan Hunt to play second fiddle to Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg or any other IMF agent in this fifth impossible mission, given the go-ahead after 'Ghost Protocol''s dizzying $700m worldwide take. Writer-director Chris McQuarrie ('Jack Reacher') is thought to be favourite to call the shots, but he's not officially signed just yet – perhaps he's waiting for someone to build a big enough skyscraper for Tom to jump off of.
What to expect: Officially the first movie in Marvel's Phase III, 'Ant-Man' is a superhero story with a difference. Edgar Wright will direct the tale of Hank Pym, a scientist who can change his size and has insects at his command. Thought to be primarily comedic in nature (no surprise with Wright in charge), much of 'Ant-Man' – including the leading actor – is still a big shiny mystery, but the proof of concept test reel that Wright debuted at last year's Comic-Con was so awesome it almost brought the roof off Hall H.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay
What to expect: The final chapter of 'The Hunger Games' trilogy (i.e. the second part of book 3) promises to bring even more bloodshed to the Capitol. Without wanting to dampen 'Catching Fire' (November 2013) or 'Mockingjay: Part I' (November 2014) we can say that Katniss has a major role to play in the rebellion in Panem. Alongside Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence and non-Oscar-winner Josh Hutcherson could be Julianne Moore, who's being sought for the role of Alma Coin, a major player in Panem's political circles.
While the summer of 2015 is already about as crowded as the beer tent at Glastonbury, there are still a number of big-budget blockbusters that could squeeze their way into the schedules. Most likely is a sequel to 'Man Of Steel', which couldn't possibly be pencilled in for 2014 as rumours suggested. Superman's super-friends at the 'Justice League' were originally scheduled to take on 'The Avengers' in 2015 though that'll likely be delayed, while the reboot of 'Fantastic Four' could easily still be ready in time. Universal have plans to release 'Bourne Legacy 2' and a sequel to 'Snow White And The Huntsman' mid-summer, while Peter Jackson's 'Tintin' sequel is planned for a late 2015 release. Finally, what chance of 'Bond 24'? Here's hoping Sam Mendes can get his chocolate factory out of his system and get on with outdoing 'Skyfall'…