Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Besides Star Wars, What Other Moneymaking Movies Are Coming Our Way?

Star Wars: The Force Awakens promises to be one of the biggest movies of all time, if not THE biggest. The first two trailers for the movie expertly combined nostalgia (explicit references to the original Star Wars trilogy), while simultaneously promising new and bold characters and ideas (the crossguard lightsaber, rolling BB-8 droid, etc.) 

Considering that Star Wars is arguably the most iconic film series of all time, it's no surprise that The Force Awakens will make a whole buttload of money. Most experts would agree that it's certainly quite possible for TFA to become the highest-grossing film of all time, but what other upcoming films could potentially wrestle it for that spot? 

Just for some background information, here are the current top 5 highest-grossing movies:
  1. Avatar at $2,787,965,087
  2. Titanic at $2,186,772,302
  3. The Avengers at $1,518,594,910
  4. Furious 7 at 1,511,527,910 (subject to change because it's still in theaters)
  5. Avengers: Age of Ultron at $1,364,888,953 (subject to change because it's still in theaters) 
As you can see, there's pretty sizable gaps between #1, #2, and #3 on the list. Avatar made so much money because of an original story, an extremely established director, and revolutionary special effects. TFA has also promised an original story (rather than a storyline already present in the Expanded Universe), a director (JJ Abrams) already VERY popular among geeks worldwide, and lots of realistic special effects and motion capture, rather than CGI. 

Furthermore, as this month's Jurassic World proved, moviegoers are very susceptible to nostalgia from classic film sagas. World's trailer followed a formula similar to that of TFA's: they introduced new and bold ideas (a super-scary new dinosaur) while playing a John William's theme that instantly reminded the audience of the saga that they already knew and loved. So if World can make $730 million (an impressive total box office for any movie) in less than ONE WEEK, and (unlike TFA) it doesn't even feature any nostalgia-inducing stars of the original movies, AND most critics agreed that it was predictable and repetitive, there's no reason why The Force Awakens couldn't make just as much money, if not more. 

Anyway, here's a list of upcoming movies that could pose a threat to TFA as the ultimate king of the box office, in no particular order:

1. Spectre (and other upcoming Bond films)- November 6, 2015

Yes, we're starting out with movies coming out before TFA, because why not? 

Spectre is the latest in the iconic James Bond franchise, and it promises just as many creepy villains, wacky gadgets, and beautiful women as its 23 predecessors. 

There's a certain amount of nostalgia, but not a whole lot. Jurassic World and TFA are both referencing movies decades old, but there's been a pretty consistent string of Bond films, about every 2 years for the past 53 years. 

You'd think that it would be difficult for Spectre to introduce never-before-seen ideas completely new to the franchise, but the trailer seems to suggest that the villain is someone from Bond's past. Could it be his father? Well, that's the billion dollar question, literally. 

Skyfall made $1.1 billion, and Spectre features the same director and several returning cast members, so it'll probably make more than that. 

Spectre will probably be Daniel Craig's last run as the iconic spy, and the Internet has already suggested Idris Elba as his successor. If Elba was chosen by the creative teams, or someone else of equal popularity, then future Bond films after Spectre could similarly rake in a whole lot of money. 

2. Fast and Furious movies

I'm only going to give these adrenaline-fueled movies a brief mention, because Furious 7 is clearly the irregularity of the franchise in terms of box office money. None of the other Furious movies scratch the Top 50 highest-grossing, while Furious 7 is #4 and still climbing.

The main factor that contributed to Furious 7's amazing profits was the unfortunate death of franchise star Paul Walker. He died midway through filming the movie, so not only was this his very last appearance on the big screen, audiences were also attracted to the movie just to see how they completed his scenes by using body doubles and CGI. 

Future Furious movies will certainly make respectable cash, but it's doubtful that they will beat Furious 7.

3. Jurassic World sequels 

As I said, Jurassic World is making so much money, it's not even funny. Experts predict that it will become the 3rd highest grossing movie of all time, beating The Avengers and stopping short of Titanic. Sequels have been confirmed, and Chris Pratt revealed in a recent interview that he will be returning for them. 

Any director of a major film series knows that every sequel needs something new to keep audiences entertained. Ironically, Jurassic World explicitly recognizes this; in the movie, the villainous Indominus Rex is genetically engineered to provide a new attraction for the fictional park, because regular dinosaurs are no longer exciting enough. In reality, the Indominus was designed by the filmmakers because after 3 Jurassic Park films, regular dinosaurs are no longer exciting enough. 
The Indominus Rex approaches its prey 
So what new idea or concept can be introduced to the Jurassic franchise now? Velociraptors in Times Square? Dinosaurs in space? Who knows, but it's sure to make a rex-tacular amount of money. 

4. DC movies (Batman vs. Superman, Justice League, etc.)

Though they're a little late to the shared-cinematic-universe-game, DC has a whole bunch of upcoming movies planned. Superhero movies are pretty much dominating Hollywood now, so it's reasonable to expect that DC's movies could make a whole lot of money. 

First, let's talk Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, coming March 2015. Obviously, a film about Batman and Superman fighting each other will make a lot of money. BUT, I doubt this movie specifically will be a major competitor for The Force Awakens. Not only did the first trailer get a mixed reception, we STILL have no idea why Batman and Superman are fighting each other...or why it wouldn't be an immediate win for the overpowered Superman. 

Plus, Marvel has their own "beloved hero vs. beloved hero" film, Captain America: Civil War, that's coming out just a few months after Dawn of Justice, so it might make DoS look like a copycat because Marvel has been planning their film a lot longer than DC (Civil War is based off of a popular comic released in 2006). You can read more on Civil War below.

Speaking of appearing like a Marvel copycat, DC's main TFA competition would probably be the two-part Justice League movie, coming in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Despite the movie seeming to be The Avengers, except devoid of all humor, it's guaranteed to make a respectable amount of money. If marketed in the right way, it could potentially make just as much money as The Avengers and break the current Top 3 highest-grossing films. 

5. Marvel Cinematic Universe movies

As I said, superhero movies are dominating Hollywood, and that's largely in thanks to Marvel. 

First, we have the aforementioned Captain America: Civil War, coming May 6, 2016. Generally you couldn't count on a solo superhero movie, instead of a superhero team-up movie, to pass the $1 billion mark (Iron Man 3 is the sole exception), but Civil War has a pretty big advantage: it's NOT a solo superhero movie, despite what its title suggests. 

Without going into unnecessary detail, Civil War is about a philosophical conflict between Iron Man and Captain America that turns into a huge war that affects the entire Marvel universe. Besides Captain America and Iron Man, the movie features a ridiculous number of other superheroes, including the debut of the MCU's Spider-Man, played by Tom Holland. Audiences will be very excited to see many of their favorite superheroes fighting each other on the big screen, which could easily cause the movie to break the $1 billion mark. 

Marvel's main TFA competition is the two-part Avengers: Infinity War, coming May 2018 and 2019 respectively. (If it seems like Marvel and DC are always copying each other, it's because they are). The main appeal of this film, or at least the second half, is that it will probably feature both the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy teaming up against Thanos, the mad titan who has served as a background villain for both teams in the past.

Would combining the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy result in the combined box offices of their respective films? (That would be about $2.3 billion). Probably not, but it will still be Marvel's biggest TFA competitor. 

6. 20th Century Fox Marvel movies (X-Men and Fantastic Four)

Fox has had a rough history with Marvel characters. The X-Men films started out with pretty good profits and critical receptions, but eventually grew rotten. 2015's Days of Future Past made an impressive amount of money ($748 million), was well-received by fans and critics alike, AND managed to semi-seamlessly wipe out most of the series' tangled and self-contradicting timeline. There are sequels and solo character films planned, and some of them have the realistic potential to break the $800 million mark, but the X-Men films are no competitor to Star Wars alone.

Let's talk about the Fantastic Four. The first 2 films, released in 2005 and 2007 respectively, didn't do absolutely terrible at the box office, but they're considered to be awful by pretty much everyone. An FF reboot is coming in August, and since it's gotten a continuous bad reception from fans since they first announced the cast February 2014, it's not expected to make any amazing sum of box office money.

The only reason I'm even mentioning Fox-Marvel films is that one of the infamous Sony leaks last December included an email that mentioned a planned X-Men/Fantastic Four crossover (you can read the details here). Various sources have continued to report this since, including DOFP director Bryan Singer himself. If this movie was released before Marvel releases Infinity War Part 2, Fox could actually beat Marvel at the superhero-team-crossover game. And if Fox can reinvigorate the popularity of the X-Men and FF, this movie could be their biggest chance at beating Marvel's box office records. 

Of course, Fox is notorious for disappointing both fans and regular audiences whenever they release a Marvel-based film (with the recent exception of DOFP), so chances are the FF franchise will crash and burn and the crossover movie will be a jumbled mess of superheroes and CGI. 

7. Transformers movies

Ah, Transformers; constantly serving as a symbol of the immaturity and hypocrisy of America. With the slight exception of the first film in 2007, these Michael Bay-directed movies are largely considered to be terrible by critics and audience alike...and yet they make a TON of money. 

Bay infamously said, "Let them hate, they're still going to see the movie!" Unfortunately for him, that claim might not be entirely true. 2014's Transformers: Age of Extinction was the first in the franchise to make less money than its predecessor...though it's still the 12th most profitable film of all time. 

The key to Age of Extinction's success was China. A sizable portion of the film took place in China, which demonstrated the speed and effectiveness of the Chinese government as they defended the country from a bunch of giant robots. Furthermore, the movie featured a no-nonsense Chinese businesswoman who seemed to be combating China's real-life gender inequality. There was even a bizarre sequence in which she beat up several American government agents. Though both the pro-government and feminist messages were forced, they must have helped to attract an abnormally large Chinese audience. 

Age of Extinction ended on a cliffhanger, and Bay is reportedly creating a shared Transformers cinematic universe, similar to the MCU. Unless humans become bored with giant robots shooting at each other while transforming into name-brand cars (which is unlikely), these movies are sure to be big hits.

8. Upcoming Pixar movies

Pixar has produced a ton of animated kids movies, and they have many more planned, but I'm only going to focus on a few. 

First, we have Toy Story 4, announced in November 2014 and expected 2017. This beloved franchise reached its monetary and critical peak in 2010 with Toy Story 3, which made a little less than $1.1 billion and won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. If Toy Story 4 can recapture the humor and lovable characters of the previous films, it could easily win the Oscar, and potentially crack the Top 5 highest-grossing of all time. 

Next, we have the highly anticipated Finding Dory, a sequel to the beloved Finding Nemo, coming summer 2016. Nemo made about $937 million, and after 13 years of waiting, its sequel has great potential. 

I'd also like to mention The Incredibles 2, most likely coming in 2017 or 2018. The Incredibles only made $631 million, but as I mentioned twice before, superhero movies have become incredibly popular since 2004, so its sequel will definitely make a lot more money. 

9. Frozen sequel(s)

Frozen made $1.27 billion. It's the highest-grossing animated film of all time, and the 7th highest-grossing of any film. To make this much money, they followed a fairly simple strategy: use a lot of catchy songs that will make little kids take their parents to see it again and again. 

Following the usual American fashion, Disney likes money and wants more of it. They announced Frozen 2 in March 2015, but it probably won't come until 2018. Unlike Michael Bay, Disney actually wants to make a lot of money from a GOOD movie, and they'll take as much time as needed to create an excellent sequel. 

As long as they keep the likable characters and catchy tunes, Frozen 2 is sure to make a very impressive amount of money.

10. Avatar sequels

Avatar hit the box office harder than anything before, and it reigns supreme to this day. Since its release in December 2009, no film has even come CLOSE to taking its position. Even if The Force Awakens can steal Avatar's throne (which some experts doubt), director/writer James Cameron announced that 3 sequels will be filmed simultaneously and released in December 2017, 2018, and 2019, respectively. If they can keep up the awe and thrill of the first film, these movies will be serious contenders for the all-time King of the Box Office. 

Fortunately, Star Wars has some upcoming reinforcements of its own. The Force Awakens is only the beginning of a long string of Star Wars films, alternating between sequels and spin-off stories (like 2016's Rogue One), with one movie being released every year. So even if TFA can't beat Avatar, there will be plenty more opportunities for future Star Wars movies to take the throne.

What other movies do you think are monetary competitors for future Star Wars films? Tell me in the comments, and may the force be with you all.