UPDATED: 1/24/2014 – The below article has been updated to reflect Marvel’s new release date for Ant-Man.
This past summer was a best of times, worst of times situation for the Hollywood studios. Beginning with the Memorial Day weekend when Fast & Furious 6 and The Hangover 3 opened opposite one another despite courting the same audience, there were simply too many big budget tent pole releases with considerable audience overlap released in too little time. Overall business was up but so was the number of high profile failures. This meant Hollywood was supposed to learn the summer movie season can only withstand a certain number of animated films, comic book movies, and general big budget releases. They saturated the marketplace, exhausted their audience, allowed budgets to grow out of control all while the 3D fad had finally fizzled out.
We’re just kidding. Oh, not about any of the issues that plagued Hollywood this summer since those are very real, but about the part where Hollywood has learned their lesson. The summer of 2015 is shaping up to be even worse for all of the same reasons just with even more movies. This is even after Batman Vs. Superman, Independence Day 2, and yet another Pirates of the Caribbean sequel all ran away screaming from summer 2015 to 2016 releases. Now, Marvel is moving Ant-Man into Batman Vs. Superman‘s old date (July 17, 2015). Where does that leave us?
- 5/1 – Avengers: Age of Ultron – All of the Avengers will return joined by new characters Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, all aligned in opposition to sentient robot Ultron, to be voiced by James Spader. Cameos for other heroes like War Machine and The Falcon are also possible, and a second villain to played by Thomas Kretchmann has now been confirmed.
- 5/15 – Mad Max: Fury Road – A Mad Max reboot from Warner Bros. and original series producer/director George Miller, who will direct a new cast comprised of Tom Hardy, Nicholas Hoult, and Charlize Theron.
- 5/22 – Susan Cooper – Melissa McCarthy’s Bridesmaids/Heat director Paul Feig will direct her again in this spy comedy featuring McCarthy as a female 007, co-starring Rose Byrne and Jason Statham
- 5/22 – Tomorrowland – Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol director Brad Bird’s ultra-secretive sci-fi film about “a teen bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor” who “embark on a mission to unearth the secrets of a place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory.” George Clooney is attached to star alongside comedic actresses Kathryn Hahn and Judy Greer.
- 5/29 – Monster Trucks – An animated comedy from Paramount Pictures, rumored to be directed by the same guy who directed Epic and 2005′s Robots
- 6/5 – B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations – Animated film from the house that Shrek built (i.e., Dreamworks) starring the voice acting of Melissa McCarthy, Seth Rogen, and Matt Bomer.
- 6/5 – San Andreas – A Dwayne Johnson action film from Warner Bros. about a rescue-chopper pilot who seeks to rescue his estranged daughter after a massive earthquake in California.
- 6/12 – Jurassic World – Arriving 14 years after Jurassic Park 3, this potential franchise re-boot will be directed by Safety Not Guaranteed’s Colin Trevorrow, and is rumored to star Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pine, and Jake Johnson. It will be filmed in 3D.
- 6/19 – Inside Out – Pixar’s animated version of the old live-action Fox sitcom Herman’s Head, Inside Out will be told from the perspective of the various emotions in the mind of a little girl. Bill Hader will voice fear, Amy Poehler joy, Mindy Kaling disgust, Lewis Black anger (perfect casting), and so on and so on.
- 6/19 – The Fantastic Four – Fox’s attempt to reboot the Fantastic Four just 10 years after the first Fantastic Four film in 2005. This one will be directed by Josh Trank, who kind of kicked ass with his super hero found footage flick Chronicle. Like Chronicle, this will star Michael B. Jordan (rumored). Beyond that, not much is known.
- 6/26 – Ted 2 – Sequel to Seth MacFarlane’s unexpected hit about a foul-mouthed CGI teddy bear causing trouble for his owner/best friend, Mark Wahlberg, and his girlfriend, Mila Kunis. The first Ted was a HUGE hit in Japan for some reason.
- 7/1 – Terminator: Genesis – The production company has to make a Terminator film by a certain date or else the rights revert back to James Cameron. So, they are making this film along with a TV show, planned to run concurrent and exist within the same continuity. The film is to be directed by Alan Taylor (Thor: Dark World), has cast Emilia Clarke as its Sarah Connor, is testing a bunch of unknowns for Kyle Reese, still hasn’t cast John Connor, and still may or may not feature Arnold Schwarzenegger in some capacity.
- 7/10 – Minions – A Despicable Me spin-off charting the history of the minions, who were not created by Gru, more like inherited since the minions’ history goes back centuries and involves warring villains to be voiced by Jon Hamm and Sandra Bullock. Steve Carrel’s Gru will feature in the plot at some point.
- 7/17 – Ant-Man – Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) will direct Michael Douglas as the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym, and Paul Rudd as the second Ant-Man, Scott Lang. Marvel originally scheduled this for a November release, moved it to 7/31, and then moved it to 7/17 after WB moved Batman Vs. Superman out of the spot.
- 7/17 – Pan – Taking the spot now vacated by Batman Vs. Superman is this latest attempt at a live-action Peter Pan, starring Hugh Jackman (as Blackbeard?) and directed by Joe Wright (Anna Karenina, Hanna, Atonement). Marvel must be a little peeved that WB’s new release date for Batman Vs. Superman (5/6/2016) is also when another Marvel film is supposed to come out. So, they responded by sticking it to Pan, scheduling Ant-Man for the same day to force WB to move Pan somewhere else. For now, their staring contest continues.
- 7/24 – Trainwreck – Current Comedy Central sketch show goddess Amy Schumer’s first big starring role about a woman whose life is a trainwreck she attempts to put back together, to be directed by Judd Apatow.
- 7/31 – Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Tim Burton’s adaptation of the popular children’s novel.
- 8/7 – Assassin’s Creed – Adaptation of the immensely popular video game series about a guild of assassins at various moments in world history. Michael Fassbender is attached as the star.
- 8/14 – The Smurfs 3 – What the smurf! But the sequel bombed in the United States and Canada! Yeaaaah, they already made their budget back on product placement deals, and it was a humongous hit overseas. Like Garfield before them, no one seems to respect these movies, but they make way more money worldwide than you’d guess.
- 8/14 – Untitled Next Bourne Chapter – Bourne Legacy director/writer Tony Gilroy is out, but Jeremy Renner is obligated to come back as Aaron Cross. They hope they can get Matt Damon back to make this is a team-up movie, but that seems very unlikely.
- 8/28 – Regression – Spanish director Alejandro Amenabar’s (The Others) latest, this time about a father (Ethan Hawke) accused with a crime he has no memory of committing. It will be distributed domestically by the Weinstein Company.
Keep in mind that the summer movie season keeps getting stretched to start earlier and earlier, and that Fast & Furious 7 will not technically be a summer release but still come out on April 10, 2015.
Lots of comic book movies (Avengers, Fantastic Four, Ant-Man), animated/quasi-animated films (Monster Trucks, BOO, Minions, Smurfs 3, Teds 2), franchise reboots (Terminator, Fantastic Four, Jurassic World, Mad Max, Pan), and a couple of sequels to lackluster films (another Bourne). It looks pretty dang familiar. At least we’re getting not one but two female-centric comedies, Susan Cooper and Trainwreck, clearly meant to recreate the success of The Heat. Plus, Ted 2 gives us another comedy, which will likely play better than The Internship did. There will be at least a couple of non-sequel action films, San Andreas, Assassin’s Creed.
Those films which look destined to bomb based merely on scheduling include either Monster’s Trucks or B.O.O. for coming out within 1 week of the other and right before a new Pixar movie. Mad Max also looks like a bad bet 2 weeks after Age of Ultron, just like Battleship failed by courting the male audience 2 weeks after the first Avengers.
This list is far from complete with new movies being added to/removed from it every other week. The bigger clusterfuck might be November/December of 2015 which currently has a new Bond movie, the final Hunger Games, another Pixar animated film (Good Dinosaur), Star Wars: Episode VII, a new Kung Fu Panda, and a new Mission Impossible.
Why should Hollywood really change, though? 2013 had some big failures (you can add 47 Ronin to that list), but business (though not necessarily attendance) was actually up. The summer alone was up in total gross 10% over the summer of 2012, and well-above the record-breaking summer of 2011. Moreover, several of the supposed box office bombs of the summer (After Earth, Pacific Rim) were saved or at least partially redeemed by overseas business, where audiences have yet to tire of 3D the way we have.
R.I.P.D., The Lone Ranger, and White House Down still ended up as bombs, not saved by overseas, but every movie season has its share of turkeys. Universal can easily absorb the loss of R.I.P.D. due to the ginormous successes of Despicable Me 2 and Fast & Furious 6 while Disney can do the same with Lone Ranger due to Iron Man 3 and Monsters University. Sony had both White House Down and After Earth, but they also had surprise hit This is the End and overseas hit Smurfs 2.
As a result, the summer of 2013 may have no real long-lasting effect. They studios were embarrassed by their failures, but the reality does not match the perception since overall business was way up. 2015 is shaping up to be absolutely brutal, summer and Nov./Dec. equally horrible. There will likely be plenty of changes yet to come, such as Mission Impossible deciding against opening one week after Star Wars: Episode VII. Plus, at least one of those summer animated films is going to have to move. However, at this point they are offering ever so slightly more variety for the summer season, and as long as enough hit big enough to mask inevitable losses then it will remain business as usual.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.