2015: The Year Movie Theatres Exploded
In 2015, we will all die. Normally, doomsday predictions are reserved for the criminally insane or people who think Mayans have a lot in the way of life advice and cosmic awareness. Ordinarily, I don’t subscribe to such fears because what have the Mayans done for us lately? However, I am going to now proclaim 2015 as the end of days. Those of you in the St. Louis area will soon see me in nothing but my underpants and a dirty army uniform holding up cardboard signs on street corners proclaiming how “The End is Nigh!”
Take a close look at the photo I posted above. If it doesn’t simply boggle your mind, then you may want to look around for that thing somewhere because you lost that noise long ago. The absolutely dumbfounding slate of big-budget films coming out in 2015 is both staggering and absolutely terrifying.
There are 24 films coming out in 2015 that will cost over $100 million dollars. That’s just production costs. That’s not including the cost of taking out millions of ads across the globe, not to mention all the lawyers that have to be paid to ensure Katniss Everdeen gets the Subway advertisements she so richly deserves. I’m gob smacked, dumbfounded, and knocked on my ass simultaneously at all of this. And it’s terrible for a number of reasons. From the top…
Most of These Franchises are Half-Dead Already
Who the hell cares about Terminator anymore? That franchise is two very solid sci-fi flicks, followed by a sequel no one liked, another sequel really no one liked, and a TV show nobody watched. So why is Terminator 5 a thing?
The same goes for the Pirates franchise and Jurassic Goddamn Park, both of which are franchises that only have one good installment each. Man of Steel had a lukewarm critical reception and did decent box office (although not nearly what Warner Bros. was expecting), but there’s the sequel, plain as day because DC is currently playing “Keeping Up with the Fieges.”
This is the exact same kind of thinking that made The Lone Ranger such a colossal disaster because no one sat down and asked their committee of people that approves movies, “Who in the hell is the audience for this?”
The first Independence Day came out in 1995 and we are only now turning it into a franchise? The first film is well-remembered, sure, if you take into account that no one has really watched it since they were twelve. The adults that saw it when it came out will be hard-pressed to care about any sort of follow-up to a film that totally closes all of its loopholes, and the kids raised on it will wonder why Will Smith isn’t in it, because Will Smith isn’t even going to be in it. How the hell does that work?
This is one step above beating a dead horse. We killed the horse and skinned it, turned that hide into a warm sweater for the horse’s executive producers, and are now beating the original horse’s dead children long after anyone cared about horses.
I haven’t even mentioned Star Wars, the poster child for dead horses anywhere. The prequels, sequels, spinoff novels, commemorative lunch boxes, videogames, and multiple comic book series have milked this horse long past dead and have continued to yank at its moldy, brittle corpse even though there hasn’t been milk in the darn thing for thirty years. The last decent film in the franchise came out in 1983, and the last one that everyone agrees is good came out in 1980—35 years before Episode VII arrives on the scene. And the Internet is going to hate it so much that they’ll only go see it three times, perpetuating the very thing they claim to despise, those bastards.
Artistically, This is Dong
I’m not saying there won’t be some great, smaller films coming out in 2015. People like Christopher Nolan and Paul Thomas Anderson may be burning out their new projects in 2014, but I’m sure a few notable filmmakers will slip through the cracks and surprise us in the war-torn days of November when all we want is someone who doesn’t have a cape. We’ll get a few films of substance late in the year, but there’s going to be a long, long wait.
I’m not even saying that blockbusters can’t do great work. Nolan’s Batman films are the perfect evidence of that, and I absolutely loved Iron Man 3, but this is all about to feel really samey. Another summer, another three superhero movies. We’re getting our annual Hunger Games sequel right on schedule, and a whole glut of animated films. Tell me right now five fundamental differences between The Smurfs movies and the Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise and I will both pay you money and give you the number of someone who can give you the help you need.
I think I’m not the only one clawing and begging for some originality, and some spark of life in this mountain of explosions. Looking at this list, there are maybe only four films I would be willing to pay money to see. Out of a list of 24 films, I would maybe like to see 1/6 of them. That nonsense is not financially viable. Speaking of which…
Financially, We’re Tubed
There is no earthly way, short of Satanic contracts or getting in deep with the mob, that these films are going to make their money back. Individually, some of them might. I’d bet that The Avengers is going to pan out fine, and James Bond and Star Wars should make it out, but a vast number of these films are going to absolutely tank. 24 films of this magnitude going out within months of each other will all struggle to make enough headway to stay above water and will inevitably flounder miserably on the deck of the America public’s psyche. 2013 is floundering on its own accord, without there really being any competition. Hollywood is about to find itself in a state of financial woe brought on by poor business decisions and over-costly flops. And there’s nothing they can do about it now. Everyone’s going to try to shove themselves through the same tiny doorway and the oblong and the slow will fall behind. Even being one of the more successful films in this gamut will not necessarily mean success as the money will be spread pretty thin between each of these. A lot of people are going to be fired during 2015.
The film industry is a notoriously recession-proof industry, but it’s not bullet proof.
Strike! Strike! Strike! Strike!
Visual effects companies are underpaid and overworked. They’re already working around the clock for the sheer amount of special effects the show up each year, and I fear that 2015 is going to push them over the edge. Rhythm & Hues, the company that made all the visual effects for Life of Pi, filed for bankruptcy shortly after they were nominated for an Academy Award for their work on the film. This kind of thing won’t sit with them forever.
After the overwhelming glut of projects we can see above, I don’t see why VFX teams wouldn’t go on strike. They’d kind of be fools not to. They’re going to do it, and I’m calling that right now.
A VFX strike would leave Hollywood in quite the actionable position. They could keep making movies during the strike, but it would be illegal for them to do that using visual effects. Studios will be clamoring for anything they can get their hands on that won’t require big stunts or intense post-production. I, personally, cannot wait for this to happen. Think of how cool it would be to live in a time where movies have to figure these things out all over again. Think of the interest projects that might arise, the unique things that never would have made it through if Star Wars were still a possibility. It’ll be like the late 1960s all over again. And it’ll be happening right as I leave film school. Bring it on.
And, Now, a Breakdown
I’m about out of theories and problems to display here, so let’s take a look at each of these months and share some thoughts, eh?
March: I don’t know who thinks that rebooting The Fantastic 4 was a good idea, but they’re really wrong and it won’t do well, no matter how black the Human Torch may be (look it up).
Madagascar Penguins will do its fair share as long as that animated show stays strong. You know, when I saw the first Madagascar back when it came out, I never would have guessed at the Flavor Flav-level media empire it would have spawned. But good for Jada Pinkett-Smith that she can pay her half of the mortgage off of hippo residuals.
I would say Cinderella would flounder if the cast weren’t so stacked (Helena Bonham Carter, Cate Blanchett, Kenneth Branagh), but who knows? The dueling Snow White flicks from last year really shared the load in terms of gross, but director Branagh’s sensibilities would skew it more towards Mirror Mirror, which is bad because it might remind people of Mirror Mirror.
May: Avengers 2: Age of Ultron. Yeah, I’m not worried. Notice how no other films are slated for that month. They’re afraid. Very afraid. Their movies don’t have Robert Downey, Jr. or Scarlett Johansson’s butt, and Avengers 2 has both of those wonderful things.
June: Assassin’s Creed is based off of a videogame, and that tends to scare people away. Except for the Resident Evil franchise, which seems to be the reality-bending loophole in the videogame adaptation chopping block, dodging things as nimbly as Milla Jovovich dodges wearing clothes that cover body parts. No amount of Michael Fassbender can fix that.
The prospect of an original from Pixar is too thrilling to pass up, so Inside Out already has my money.
B.O.O. could actually be alright, maybe (the description makes it sound like a cross between Monsters University and Billy Madison), but coming out in the same month as a Pixar movie is a recipe to not make your money back.
July: Skip it. Skip the whole month. There is nothing there that anyone should care about. Go away, July. I will see you when you’re over.
September: Double skip it.
November: Edgar Wright is my favorite director and he’s doing a superhero movie, so I will be there opening night for Ant-Man. Come rain, sleet, snow, or my birthday, I will be there.
I would ordinarily say skip a new James Bond movie, but since Skyfall was so fantastic (It’s the James Bond movie you get when you let an actual filmmaker direct a James Bond flick) and Sam Mendes has returned to direct again, I’m pretty hyped for this one, too.
Peanuts movie… Okaaaaaaaaaaaaaay?
Pixar loses a lot of its points for trying another original property by making a sequel to the one Pixar film that never really needed one. I don’t know if I care about what Finding Dory has to say. But the same thing was probably said when Pixar announced its Toy Story sequels and both of those were stupendous, so what the hell do we know, really?
December: The first Kung Fu Panda was funny, I guess. Never saw the second one. Meh?
Dates TBA: Going to be 100% honest, I don’t really care about any of these movies. Not in the slightest. Probably going to see Ant-Man again instead.
Chekhov’s Gunman is a film and television blog moderated by Kevin Lanigan, a future writer of movies and TV and current writer of screenplays he can sell after everything collapses in 2015. Be sure to follow or subscribe above for more info, and comment your thoughts on my thoughts on movie executives’ thoughts below.
You can also find Kevin on Twitter.