Every year there are a host of new movies to keep an eye out for, but 2015 is going to be filled to the brim with big name franchises either debuting, rebooting or sequelling their way into your local cinema. It’s easy to accidentally miss a release, so I’ve tried to compile a list of the biggest name movies and when they’re going to be released here in Australia. This is not a definitive list by any means, merely those I think are going to be the ones everyone talks about. So don’t miss out on the conversations, make a note of these on your calender to either see or merely diss from afar.
Out now: 50 Shades of Grey
This book series is about as divisive as the series it was originally a fanficiton of: Twilight. You either love how it explores and tests the boundaries of relationship and sex, or you write it off as female pornography or a book about abuse. It is not the type of book that finds a lot of middle ground, and neither will the movie. Reviews haven’t been favourable among critics but it was unlikely to win over fans beyond the target audience. It had a strong opening weekend as it cleverly launched around Valentine’s Day, although it is only the second highest opening weekend for a February movie behind…Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ of all things. The numbers will probably be enough to get the other two books made into film but one thing that’s for sure? You won’t be seeing a review of it on 1Up Culture.
March 5: Ex Machina
Ok so this isn’t a big name movie, but I’m allowing myself one personal pick to include in here, so bare with me. Ex Machina follows a story of the exploration of humanity, artificial intelligence and deception as a famous recluse works on perfecting A.I. The trailer looks great and the premise feels designed specifically to suck me in. How good the movie ends up remains to be seen (early reviews are very positive though), but it should be an interesting ride considering the writer was also behind 28 Days Later and Sunshine, two quality sci films even if I wasn’t a fan of the latter’s ending. Expect plenty of philosophical musings about the concept of what is ‘human’ and there are some creepy undertones to the trailer that makes you wonder just what kind of direction it will go in. This will likely slip under the radar this year, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be worth a look. Thought provoking sci-fi is never a bad thing.
April 3: Furious 7
The street race series turned heist series will enter with more publicity than ever before thanks to the untimely passing of its lead actor Paul Walker. I’m one of the many converts to the series once it dropped the focus on the cars and used it instead as more of a backdrop to self aware but over the top fun action sequences. You know what you’re getting with this movie, and by now you should know whether it’s up your alley or not. The latest trailer alone shows how outlandish it will be, but the series has found the right blend of fun and action to become a safe bet if you are after a mindless good time. There’s also not a whole lot of competition around its release which should only help bolster numbers, which is already going to be pretty high given Paul Walker’s passing and the previous movie pulling over $800 million.
May 15: Mad Max: Fury Road & Pitch Perfect 2
Two very different movie franchises converge in the middle of May. On one end, you’ve got the reboot of the 70’s Australian classic Mad Max, whose trailer is an orchestra of dystopic desert chaos and explosions, and on the other a sequel to a musical comedy that helped put Aussie Rebel Wilson on the Hollywood map. Neither should interfere too much in the other’s box office but it will be interesting to see which reigns supreme over that first week. Pitch Perfect will likely flow well along the lines of its predecessor and as long as the songs are fun and catchy it will send fans home relatively happy. Mad Max’s trailer has received a pretty positive reception but translating that success to a full movie will be more of a challenge. It’s always a danger tampering with a classic, but the cast of both movie should help to cover any weaknesses.
June 12: Jurassic World
A childhood favourite and one of my more anticipated movies of the year, Jurassic World is the reboot/fourth installment in the Spielberg classic from 1993. Headlined by 1Up Culture’s king of 2014 Chris Pratt, there is a lot riding on the success or failure of this movie. There is a strong desire by those behind the movie for the franchise to return to the strength it had in the 90’s, but while Jurassic Park is a true classic of the medium neither sequel did much to match the legacy of the original. The franchise definitely needed a break, and maybe it’s my nostalgia at work but I’m optimistic. It could end up being a fanbase breaker though, as public sentiment is already divided over stuff such as the genetically engineered Indominus Rex and Pratt’s character having some measure of influence over the raptor pack.
June 26: Ted 2
Seth Macfarlane struck gold with his talking teddy bear in 2012, with the movie living up to the expecation of many Family Guy and American Dad fans. While A Million Ways To Die In The West was more or less a flop, Ted 2 should enjoy a strong fanbase returning to see the movie equivalent of a child’s imagination lasting into adulthood. Comedy sequels are always a tough egg to crack though. Finding the right mix between what made the original successful, and expanding into unique ground so it’s not just a Hangover-esque rehash will be tough, especially since the humour in Ted isn’t terribly inventive, just effective. Still, Ted is simply a better designed concept than ‘Millions Ways’, and it feels like there’s more ground the bear can cover.
July 1: Terminator: Genisys
How many times has Arnie said some variation on the ‘I’ll be back’ line now? Four movies and a television series clearly wasn’t enough despite the franchise peaking at Judgement Day. The continuity is being hacked and slashed at which could either bolster new life in the series or condemn it to eternal fanboy hate, and this time Sarah Conner is the Queen of Dragons. This is a big moment for Emilia Clarke, who has enjoyed considerable praise and popularity for her role of Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones, and if she can pull off female action icon Sarah Conner then she will be in good stead for years to come. There is a wide varying opinion of how this movie is going to turn out, but it has the potential to at least play the role of entertaining action movie even if it can’t live up to the strength of the earlier movies.
July 17: Ant Man
Marvel’s first step into phase three might be in the boots of the tiny Ant-Man, but there will be a lot of attention on Paul Rudd’s portrayal of Scott Lang in the only solo MCU movie of the year. Public opinion might not be as high on this as other movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe after its somewhat lackluster teaser trailer, but given the success of their other movies there will be at the very least some measure of faith put in the Marvel brand. Their last big risk was Guardians and that could not have ended up any better for the company, so this movie should pull decent numbers regardless of quality. Done right and this should be a fun little romp with a visually interesting superhero, but it can’t rest on the laurels of the MCU movies that have come before it.
August 7: Fantastic 4
I’ve expressed my concern over this movie to just about anyone who has been willing (or forced) to listen for a while now. We recently got a teaser for the movie and while it didn’t win me over like it has some people, it at least showed some promise. But some bold story choices and the controversial casting of Michael B Jordan as the Human Torch likely mean there will be some hardcore fans who will refuse to find any good from this movie. The Fantastic Four franchise has yet to really put a dent in the box office, but given Fox’s last superhero movie was the fantastic Days of Future Past there is some light at the end of the tunnel. The Fantastic Four are big enough to make for a decnt movie franchsie but Fox have yet to work out how to, maybe third time will be the charm. This may end up being my surprise of 2015, but I could just as easily see this ending up as a flop.
November 6: Peanuts & Spectre
Both are classic genre defining franchises in a lot of ways. Spectre is looming as the 24th Bond movie and one of the more hotly anticipated (after coming off the very strong Skyfall), and while your opinion of the movie will in many ways hang on your acceptance of Daniel Craig as a modern no nonsense Bond, it’s good to see the franchise going strong after some troubled internal times at MGM. If you’re a fan of this iteration of film’s biggest spy, then there’s a lot to be excited for with Spectre. Bond will be Bond. As for Peanuts, the original comic strip has forged a legacy that won’t go away, and the cartoons and assorted media from it have enjoyed plenty of success over the years with a cast of lovable characters. While franchise creator Charles M. Schulz passed away back in 2000, Peanuts are still firmly in control of his the family with his son and grandson Craig and Bryan leading the charge. It’s been 35 years since the gang has enjoyed a feature film but what makes the franchise work will for the most part remain, so it’s just a matter of whether they can recapture the magic.
November 20: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II
Like Harry Potter and Twilight before it, The Hunger Games has established itself as a guaranteed box office success with every movie. Riding off of the back of one of Hollywood’s most loved in Jennifer Lawrence, the final movie in the franchise will be looking to end with a bang, building off of the two hour set up movie that Part I was. As you would expect, whether this movie is on your radar or not will depend on if you’ve been following the series, but like its predecessors it is going to be doing big numbers, especially since both the final movies in the Harry Potter and Twilight movies were both quite well received by their fanbase (I qualify that for those many Twi-haters out there). It’s unsure which YA franchise will take the reigns once Katniss has fired her last arrow, but there is little doubt the final Hunger Games will be big. Not really a movie that will be on your personal radar unless you’re up to date with the previous three movies though.
So that’s most of the big movies set to come out in 2015. That’s not to say it’s all of them. I’m still missing some of the other big animated movies like Minions, as well as the next Mission Impossible, but this should give you a good idea as to what your movie going friends will be talking about this year.
What’s that? I’m missing a couple that should be on here? Apparently Disney are also making a couple of movies, based off of some small time franchises like The Avengers and Star Wars.
Don’t worry, I’ll be addressing the undisputed two heavyweights of 2015’s cinematic experience. What I want to do in the next week or two is look at the two of them in a bit more depth. And in doing so try to answer the question of which will be the most successful movie of 2015: Age of Ultron or The Force Awakens.