2015 will be a Big Movie Year

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With this weekend’s holiday comes the official close of the 2013 Summer Movie Season.  We’ve seen our share of flops (The Lone Ranger), hits (Iron Man 3), and surprises (Now You See Me), and while there are definitely some exciting films on tap for next year, keen fans have already started looking excitedly at 2015.  Why skip over an entire year, you ask?  Well, if all goes according to plan, 2015 will see a perfect storm of sorts, as a crazy number of massive franchises are poised to launch some highly anticipated properties.  Two years from now, The Avengers follow-up will square off against Batman vs. Superman, and a brand new Star Wars film is poised to open alongside the long-promised Jurassic Park sequel.

As the Labor Day weekend is normally a time of relaxation, we thought it might be fun to look ahead to the craziness that will ensue two years from now.

One thing to keep in mind before we get started: these dates are not set in stone.  As we’ve seen countless times before, studios shift release dates around or scrap them altogether.  As such, at least one of the following films will probably be pushed or shifted around between now and 2015, so don’t view this list as final.  That being said, here’s a look at the planned 2015 release date calendar as of right now.

 

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STAR WARS: EPISODE VII

Release Date: Christmas 2015

What We Know So Far: Ah yes, the big one. A 2015 release date has been eyed for Star Wars: Episode VII ever since Disney first announced that it was acquiring Lucasfilm and making a new trilogy of Star Wars movies, and that is still the plan. We knew the production would be fairly secretive, but with J.J. Abrams onboard as the director it’s unlikely that we’ll learn much about the movie before its release. That being said, we do know a bit.

When George Lucas handed the keys of the franchise over to new Lucasfilm President and Episode VII producer Kathleen Kennedy, he also provided all of his story notes and ideas for further Star Wars films. We know he has had conversations with Abrams about the new film, so it is believed that at least a portion of Episode VII will be based on Lucas’ existing ideas.

Additionally, Toy Story 3 scribe and Oscar winner Michael Arndt is working on the screenplay, Abrams will be shooting on 35mm film, John Williams is providing the score, the film’s lead characters are strongly rumored to be the descendants of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Leia, and all signs point to Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fischer reprising their roles from the original trilogy in some capacity. We know that filming will take place in London and is set to get underway in early 2014, but there have also been many rumblings that the production is running behind.

Abrams is known for taking his time when it comes to his directorial projects (Paramount originally wanted Star Trek Into Darkness for 2012), and Star Wars comes with just about the biggest baggage of any franchise. There have been murmurs that Episode VII may be released in December of 2015 instead of May due to the delays, which would break Star Wars tradition since all six previous films were released in May. As that early 2014 production start-date approaches, we may finally be hearing some official word soon.

 

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THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

Release Date: May 1, 2015

What We Know So Far: Marvel’s superhero sequel comes with massive expectations, but the studio is doing everything in its power to live up to the promise of the first film. Joss Whedon is back onboard to write and direct, James Spader is playing the villain, and new Avengers team members include Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch (both of whom are currently in negotiations with Marvel). Tom Hiddleston’s Loki will not be appearing in the follow-up, as the Avengers will instead face off against the evil robot Ultron—to be played by Spader in a bit of truly inspired casting.

Whedon has said that Ultron’s origin story will be changed for The Avengers 2, so don’t expect to see Hank Pym aka Ant-Man make an early appearance. Whedon has also revealed that Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow is “a huge part” of the follow-up, and has plans to expand Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye role as well. Filming begins the first week of March on what will act as Marvel’s capper to its Phase Two lineup of films.

 

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MAN OF STEEL 2/BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN

Release Date: July 17, 2015

What We Know So Far: Batman vs. Superman. That’s it. That’s all you need to know. The as-yet-untitled Zack Snyder superhero film aka Batman vs. Superman aka Man of Steel 2 is likely to be the can’t-miss movie of July, and fan speculation is already at a fever pitch before a frame of footage has even been shot. Ben Affleck will portray a Batman/Bruce Wayne who is “older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter,” while Henry Cavill will reprise his role as Superman. David S. Goyer is penning the script based off an idea he developed with Snyder, and Christopher Nolan—who produced Man of Steel—has stepped back to an executive producer role on this follow-up instead of his more hands-on involvement with the first film.

Filming on the untitled pic is poised to get underway in early 2014, with a large amount of location work to be done in Detroit and other Michigan cities. Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne, and Diane Lane are confirmed to reprise their characters from Man of Steel, but we still have no conformation with regards to who the villain will be or whether Batman and Superman will be allies or adversaries. However, this is the first time the DC Comics characters will appear onscreen together in a major feature film, so audiences will likely turn out in droves regardless of the story particulars.

 

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BOND 24

Release Date: November 6, 2015

What We Know So Far: Odds are pretty good that either Bond 24 or Ant-Man will undergo a slight release date change sometime before now and November 2015, because having a Marvel movie go up against James Bond is a recipe for cannibalistic disaster. Nevertheless, Bond 24 is incredibly exciting for a number of reasons. Director Sam Mendes delivered one is considered of the best Bond entries ever with 2012’s Skyfall (Personally I thought Casino Royale was better), and after some coercing he finally agreed to return and direct the next Bond entry as well.

With Bond 24, Mendes has his Skyfall writer John Logan in tow and plenty of interesting directions to take the franchise after introducing a new M (Ralph Fiennes) and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) at the end of Skyfall. With such a long lead time to prepare, here’s hoping the filmmaker delivers a follow-up worthy of its predecessor.

 

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THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY, PART 2

Release Date: November 20, 2015

What We Know So Far: Though we haven’t even seen the second installment in the Hunger Games series just yet, the finale is already dated for the Thanksgiving holiday in 2015. Catching Fire director Francis Lawrence is onboard to helm the two-part conclusion, Mockingjay, and fans of the book are keen to see how it all ends onscreen. While Catching Fire seems like it would’ve been the more practical book to split in half, Lawrence has Game Change and The Butler screenwriter Danny Strong on tap to pen the Mockingjay screenplays, so hopefully he’s sussed out enough worthwhile material from Suzanne Collins’ novel to make two satisfying feature films.

 

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JURASSIC PARK IV

Release Date: Summer

What We Know So Far: The long-promised Jurassic Park sequel is finally coming to fruition, and it’s being eyed for release in 2015. Universal and producer Frank Marshall took their time in choosing the director for Jurassic Park 4, and it came as a bit of a surprise when they settled on Colin Trevorrow, the filmmaker behind the well-received time travel indie Safety Not Guaranteed. While the studio was initially barreling towards a 2014 release date, Universal did the admirable thing and pushed the film back to 2015 to ensure that Trevorrow has the time necessary to deliver his complete vision for the follow-up.

JP4 has a script by Rise of the Planet of the Apes scribes Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, but Trevorrow is said to have performed a rather extensive rewrite. He worked a bit with Steven Spielberg to hone the story, which is rumored to return the action to Isla Nublar. There have also been rumblings of a brand new dinosaur, and Trevorrow will be shooting the pic in 3D. With filming likely to get underway sometime next year, we should be hearing more solid word about Jurassic Park 4 in the coming months. Here’s hoping the sequel is well worth the wait.

 

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TERMINATOR

Release Date: June 26, 2015

What We Know So Far: While another Terminator film has been in development for years, Annapurna Pictures and Paramount are finally pulling the trigger on a reboot that is planned as the first film in a new trilogy. It’s still unclear whether Arnold Schwarzenegger will indeed be back, but the official press release describes this film as “a rebooted Terminator movie,” so it wouldn’t be a shock if the pic featured an entirely new cast of characters. Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier wrote the screenplay, and we should hopefully hear official word about a director any day now.

 

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INSIDE OUT

Release Date: June 19, 2015

What We Know So Far: The first of two Pixar films slated for release in 2015, Inside Out is the next feature film from Up and Monsters Inc. director Pete Docter and takes place inside the mind of Riley, an 11-year-old girl who recently moved with her family to San Francisco. Instead of centering on Riley, however, the central characters in Inside Out are Miley’s emotions: Joy (Amy Poehler), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). With both a wonderfully original story and a pitch perfect voice cast, Inside Out could serve as a breath of fresh air amongst the franchise onslaught of the summer.

 

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FANTASTIC FOUR

Release Date: March 6, 2015

What We Know So Far: Chronicle helmer Josh Trank is onboard to direct Fox’s reboot, titled The Fantastic Four, and the young filmmaker has X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn onboard as a producer. We still don’t have a firm start-of-production date for this one just yet, and it appears that casting has been tricky. Miles Teller was rumored to play Mr. Fantastic but Trank shot that one down pretty quickly, and there have also been rumblings of Elizabeth Olsen and Girls star Allison Williams possibly playing Susan Storm and Michael B. Jordon lighting up as the Human Torch.

Whomever Trank finally enlists as his core castmembers, it’s clear that he is going young. Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer) came on to do a polish of the script in February, but expect filming on this one to get underway sometime early next year.

 

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TED 2

Release Date: April, 2015

What We Know So Far: While anticipation for Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane‘s directorial debut Ted was certainly high, few could have imagined that the R-rated comedy would go on to gross a whopping $549 million worldwide. Obviously Universal was itching for a sequel, but MacFarlane opted to shoot his Western comedy A MillIon Ways to Die in the West first. That film is currently in post-production and a recent report has the Ted sequel pegged for April 2015. The date could certainly change as the film hasn’t even entered pre-production yet, but MacFarlane and Mark Wahlberg are both game to return so it would appear the the only obstacle is scheduling. Again, not much is known just yet and the sequel could eventually hit theaters a little later, but make no mistake: Ted 2 is indeed coming.

 

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INDEPENDENCE DAY 2

Release Date: July 3, 2015

What We Know So Far: Director Roland Emmerich is coming back to annihilate your Fourth of July weekend once again. Will Smith is not returning for the sci-fi sequel to Emmerich’s 1996 blockbuster Independence Day, but plenty of destruction is planned for the follow-up. Emmerich previously revealed that the story takes place 20 years after the original and centers on retaliation efforts by the alien race after their initial plot to conquer Earth failed. Bill Pullman is poised to reprise his role in the follow-up, and while there was initially talk of filming two sequels back-to-back, Paramount wants to focus on only Independence Day 2 for now.

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This post was long enough so here’s the honorable mentions: Ant-Man, Cindarella, Pixar’s Finding Dory, World of Warcraft, Kung-Fu Panda 3, and Pirates of Caribbean 5.Some are new and potentially refreshing and some being tiresome (e.g. Pirates 5…)

Again, it’s possible that one or more of the aforementioned films could be pushed into 2016, but as of right now, 2015 is shaping up to be one of the biggest movie years in recent memory.

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