James Murphy offers a rundown on the trends in cinema today and an insight into what is coming in 2014 and 2015
Summer 2013 was unremarkable for movies. Iron Man 3: too clever for its own good. Man of Steel: a long way from ‘super’. Wolverine: pointless, toothless and a waste of Hugh Jackman’s relentless work.
By contrast, 2012 gave us Batman, Bond, Avengers and Prometheus. We were spoiled for choice. Thankfully, between 2014 and 2015, we will be excited by cinema again. Here is an exclusive overview of the franchise machines that now run the show. Call it a state of the union address for movies.
The cinematic titans of today were born in the pages of yesterday’s comic books. There are two main stables of those spandex clad, uber-powered characters: Marvel and DC. Marvel owns most of its properties’ film rights, despite needing to co-opt Disney and Paramount for distribution. Only Spider-Man, X-Men and Fantastic Four remain out of range (their film rights rest with Sony and Fox).
So though you shouldn’t expect Wolverine and Spider-Man to pop round for tea with Iron-Man and Pepper Potts anytime soon, each studio’s alertness to the billion dollar cash cow team-up movie may produce some surpising combinations. 2014 will give us the ultimate X-Men mash up (Bryan Singer’s over-rated incarnation of the franchise meets Matthew Vaughan’s underrated prequel version, in next year’s Days of Future Past). That same summer brings viewers a villain heavy Amazing Spider Man 2 and the riskier, comedic Guardians of the Galaxy.
But the really hot ticket comes in 2015, c/o Avengers: Age of Ultron. A sequel to 2012’s Avengers Assemble, it is a guaranteed hit. Aside from re-uniting Thor, Hulk and Captain America, the film has secured the talents of Robert Downey Junior in the role of Tony Stark. His participation was briefly in doubt while contracts were finalised but is absolutely essential to the film’s success.
DC Comics, by contrast, rely on parent company, Warner Bros. Studios, to commission and distribute their movies. Hence, there was no DC – Warner Bros. equivalent of Marvel’s The Avengers, after 2011’s Green Lantern flopped. The fans still want a Justice League film (all the DC heroes team together), but that’s unlikely to happen.
Instead, we will get Batman V Superman in summer 2015; thereby answering the Marvel dominance and invigorating Superman’s box office appeal with a dash of Dark Knight. Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is finished so this will be a new Batman, though many hope that Christian Bale’s version of the character will take a brief break from that cafe in Italy with Catwoman to face Superman. Catwoman and Batman probably had their fair share of ‘domestics’ and he can always return home to her at the end!
Dinosaurs! Aliens! Killer Robots! Pirates! God! James Bond!
A number of biblical epics are in production, from Ridley Scott’s Exodus (with Christian Bale: him again!) to Darren Aronofsky’s Noah (Russell Crowe back in epic but earnest leading man mode). Jim Carrey is also considering Bruce Almighty 2: the Second Coming and Harrison Ford has made noises about playing Indiana Jones again. Indiana had better find another divine relic to chase this time, as his encounters with aliens in ‘that’ last film proved somewhat unpopular.
Speaking of which, the aliens from Independence Day return in summer 2015. That’s nearly twenty years late and misses a trick by not casting Will Smith as an Obama style President, but they should retain Jeff Golblum, unless he’s booked for the same summer’s Jurassic Park 4 (rumoured to feature underwater scenes in glorious 3-D). That franchise is not extinct.
If that is not enough sci-fi for you, then look out for Terminator 5. Arnold Schwarzenegger WILL be back, perhaps playing the designer of the killer robots? A new Terminator will face him (possibly Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson), though the film’s prospects could be ‘terminated’ by Pirates of the Caribbean and Star Wars 7. But one of those entries might just be moved to the winter of 2015, where it will be accompanied by Britain’s finest: James Bond.
Bond 24 will finish the busiest year at the cinema in recent memory. Thankfully, Sam Mendes has accepted the mission to direct and Daniel Craig will return as 007. Skyfall grossed a billion dollars so it will be a hard act to follow.
One thing is for sure: the next two years will be anything but dull. 2013 is already a footnote in film. The future of film has begun.
James Murphy is a freelance writer and graduate of the University of Oxford.
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Cinema today is pointless, scripts have no substance, directors have no clue, and good actors are hard to find.
Cinemas have no atmosphere. I will have to stick to Netflix to watch the golden oldies of a great bygone era.
Like me a great ‘nostaligist’
I find the same discontent with contemporary novels and art.
Britain once boasted the best opulent atmospheric cinemas in the world, the onslaught of the new age multi-screen cinema complexes destroyed this once great tradition.
The magic of going to pictures was lost forever. Motion Picture Film Studio executives cannot understand why so many films are bombing at the box-office. They must have a closer look at the customer experience at the cinema chains.
Who is James Murphy? As if I care… There are too many other films too numerous to mention (..including, shock, horror, foreign films ) so why is he so focussed on the action and sci fi genre? Movies for real men only?
James, get in touch with what is really going on in cinema and then maybe we will find your comments more enlightening .
Why are no historical dramas or comedies featured in this article? That’s what I’d like to know about. Perhaps Mr Murphy could followup.
Thanks readers. I do accept the criticism, though that is less of me so much as it is the current ethos in film making. The fact is, blockbusters are the ones that grab the budgets, the stars and the interest. And why? Well, because lots of people go and see those films.
Granted, they are frequently formulaic and when they try to leave said formula, they make the mistake of going ‘dark’ for darkness’ sake; or they make faux political commentaries (see my recent Star Trek review on these very pages).
That said, many a talented actor and film-maker has the spark of interest in the medium ignited by a visit to some big franchise movie from Bond to Batman; ever was it thus. Spielberg and Lucas watched 50s B movie serials as kids; they then made Indiana Jones 30 years later as a tribute; Tom Cruise saw Star Wars and knew he had to be an actor in films..and so on. So, the kid watching Batman /Superman etc today could be tomorrow’s Oscar winner!.
And plenty of stars are able to use the publicity / cash from the big budget blockbuster to reinvest their talents in smaller and worthier projects (Denzel Washington, Robert Redford, Tommy Lee Jones..just a few names off the top of my head).
As for my credentials? Well, I have worked on film in casting. And I have an eye for detail as an Oxford graduate. And Matthew Steeples does not publish unless he believes in the piece and its writer. But above all, I have a lifelong passion for film.
See you at the movies..