Carl explores the 2019 cinematic calendar and reveals his top picks from another incredible year of blockbuster movies…
The box office of 2018 has been and gone. Put to bed. Stick a fork in it, it’s done. The race for the top-grossing film of the year is over. Avengers: Infinity War stood tall over the rest. Over $2bn in takings. Can’t argue with that. Black Panther came close but accepted 2nd place. If they were released earlier, could Aquaman or Bumblebee have reigned instead? Who knows. It’s immaterial now. The Avengers set down a marker and no film can match its financial take for last year or this coming year, surely.
2019 looks like a year that could destroy the box office records. How I hear you ask. Well then, let’s take a look at a small selection of films coming our way over the next 12 months and see how we get on. Is there a small independent film that could storm the Box Office? Maybe. Is there a surprise contender out there for the overall crown? Possibly. What film will be the juggernaut and which are the pretenders to the throne? And more important, how scared are the rest of the film companies about the giant standing ready to take on all comers in December? Some films are big, the one waiting for the crown at the end of the year is HUGE. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, shall we? There are 11 months between now and the looming giant so let’s take a look.
Later this month, we are treated to the third and final part of the Unbreakable trilogy. Starting with Unbreakable and through to its unexpected but welcome 2nd part with Split, Glass brings M. Night Shyamalan’s trilogy to a close. Starring Hollywood heavyweights Bruce Willis, Samuel L Jackson and James McAvoy, the film will finally bring the three films together. After following Unbreakable‘s characters of David Dunn (Willis) and Elijah Price (Jackson) and it’s twist ending, we were all surprised when at the end of Split, it was revealed that it was a (part) sequel. And it was revealed via an uncredited cameo by Willis as Dunn commenting on a news report in a diner, answering a question from another patron about the psychotic wheelchair genius’ name, now locked away in an insane asylum. When Willis appeared on the screen and uttered the one word ‘Glass’ we discovered the truth to our surprise. Being a fan of the first two films, I’m looking forward to seeing the closer to the saga. And I’m looking forward to seeing Samuel L Jackson return to the role of ‘Mr Glass’. If you haven’t seen the first two films, I recommend watching them before seeing Glass.
Hugh Jackman returns to our screens again in ‘The Front Runner’, a drama based on the true-life scandal surrounding politician Gary Hart, regarded as the shoo-in for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 1988 only for his extramarital affair with Donna Rice to completely derail his campaign, leading him to withdraw from the race and leaving a profound and lasting impact on American politics and the world stage.
‘Vice’ brings us an all-star cast in a film detailing the story of former vice president Dick Cheney. Chosen for the post by George W Bush in his 2000 presidential election. When Bush wins by a narrow margin, Cheney uses his newly gained power to help reshape the country and the world. With a cast list that contains Christian Bale as Cheney, Sam Rockwell as George W Bush, Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld and Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney, the film promises to be a heavyweight film that, like The Front Runner before it, is designed to bother the Academy come Oscars time. Will either film have legs to beat the likes of A Star Is Born, Mary Poppins Returns and The Favourite to the top awards? Only time will tell. Mary, Queen Of Scots starring Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan could become a late entry to the party.
Moving forward into the summer season and the start of the blockbusters, the long-anticipated and awaited ‘Captain Marvel‘ film finally arrives on our screens. Starring the fantastic actress Brie Larsson as the title character, the film is an origin story, introducing us to the character for the first time on-screen. Hinted at during the final stinger of Avengers: Infinity War, the film also brings us a younger version of Nick Fury, again played by Samuel L Jackson. The story of Carol Danvers, a female US army air force pilot, this marks the first time this year we will see the character at the movies. She will be seen as a major part of Avengers: Endgame.
Supporting the two main characters are such great actors as Jude Law as Mar-Vell, Ben Mendelsohn as Talos, Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson, Annette Benning as a Kree scientist who rescues Danvers and makes her part Kree and Gemma Chan as Minn-Erva. Returning to the Marvel Universe for the first time since appearing in Guardians Of The Galaxy are Djimon Hounsou as Korath, a Kree mercenary and member of Starforce and Lee Pace as Ronan The Accuser. Could this be this year’s Black Panther for Marvel? The Hors D’oeuvre before their main course? Why not, they pulled it off last year to perfection.
The following month we come upon the reboot of ‘Hellboy‘. No longer do we have Ron Perlman as the title character or Guillermo Del Toro as writer/director. With this new version of the Dark Horse Comics graphic novel we are presented with David Harbour from Netflix’s exemplary series ‘Stranger Things‘ as the title character, Ian McShane as Professor Broom, Milla Jovovich as Nimue The Blood Queen and Daniel Dae Kim as Ben Daimio, a Japanese-American military member. The film is an R-Rated version of the comic books instead of the family-friendly PG-13 films released earlier. Could this turn out to be this years’ Deadpool or Logan, being an adult comic book film and a box office hit?
Then we come upon what will be the Box Office Juggernaut of the summer without a doubt. The film they all have to beat. Avengers: Endgame lands on our screens. A now confirmed run time of three hours brings us to the end of this phase of the Marvel Universe. Following on from events of the previous film, Infinity War, the filmmakers have wisely kept their cards close to their chest regarding where we will find our surviving characters when the film starts. We do know that Ant-man, Hawkeye (now in his Ronin persona) and Captain Marvel will be in the film to join up with the depleted remnants of the Avengers to take on Thanos one final time. Which of our heroes will survive this final battle? We already know that Robert Downey Jr’s and Chris Evans’ Marvel contracts are up with this film and so, could we see the deaths of Iron Man and Captain America by the film’s climax? How will the dead members of the Avengers come back from the dead as we know they will? And which characters will meet their fates in this phase closer, never to be seen on the screen again? We already know that Captain Marvel will spearhead the next phase of Marvel films and that Chris Hemsworth has one final Thor appearance to do before his contract is up so can easily dismiss them as likely candidates to die in this film. A standalone Black Widow film is in the works. Doctor Strange has a second film on the horizon. The rest (with the exception of ONE character, more on him later) are in serious peril of not seeing the next phase. Will your favourite survive?
DC gives us the next member of its stable with ‘Shazam‘. The film is intended to be their seventh instalment in their extended universe. Starring Zachary Levi as the title character, the film follows the story of William ‘Billy’ Batson, a 14-year-old boy who was granted his powers by an ancient wizard and transforms into an adult superhero when he speaks the Sorcerers name. His powers include superhuman strength, not unlike Superman, super speed and flight. The film is based on the character created by Bill Parker and C. C Beck and judging by the trailers. looks to be a more comedic DC film than it’s counterparts. Can it match the box office take and success of Aquaman and propel DC further into the game?
Legendary Studios Monsterverse makes a welcome comeback with ‘Godzilla: King Of The Monsters‘, the third film in their stable. Continuing the heroic efforts of the Monarch Crypto-Zoological agency, our favourite atomic breath breathing lizard hits our screens in May. This time, however, our reptilian hero faces the triple threat of his classic challengers, Mothra, Rodan and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah. Warner Bros and Legendary have raided the Toho vaults and have brought out the big guns. When these superspecies, long thought to be just myth rise again, all are vying for supremacy leading to humanity’s existence hanging by a thread.
With only Sally Hawkins as Dr Vivienne Graham and Ken Watanabe returning from the original film as Dr Ishiro Serizawa, the new cast contains Kyle Chandler as Dr Mark Russell, Vera Farmiga as Dr Emma Russell and Millie Bobby Brown as Madison Russell, the film looks like the creature feature smackdown for the ages. A throwback to the classic Japanese films from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s and the Ray Harryhausen films from the same era, the film has the potential to blow us away with its visuals and battling creatures. This could top the box office with ease. A further sequel will be released in 2020 pitting Godzilla against the TRUE king of the monsters. I’m sorry ‘Zilla but they don’t call him KING KONG for nothing! Godzilla Vs Kong will be the true battle to see.
Disney unveils its newest live-action remakes of its classic animation films, neither of which I can say I’m excited for sadly. Don’t get me wrong, the live action versions of Dumbo and Aladdin could be wonderfully fantastic but i feel they are not needed. To me, the original animated adaptaion of Dumbo is one of the greatest animated films ever made and to see a live action version doesn’t fill me with confidence. And no disrespect intended to Will Smith but the late, great Robin Williams will ALWAYS be the genie in Aladdin for me. Both films could do decent business and i will give the films a chance when they open but neither are high on my list of must see films of the year.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix is a film I fear for. As an X-Men fan, I really want to see a faithful, proper adaptation of the classic Dark Phoenix saga. However, after the films release keeps being pushed further and further back and with reports of the film being a Fantastic Four reboot type disaster, I don’t hold out much hope for it. After Brett Ratner’s shameful take on the material with X-Men: The Last Stand, this film needs to atone for the mistakes. Sadly though, it looks like Fox is going to unleash a final stinker before the property becomes part of the Disney stable.
Animated fare comes to us in the guise of The Secret Life Of Pets 2, Wonder Park, The Queen’s Corgi, Missing Link, Spies In Disguise and The Lego Movie 2. Of these films, the obvious standouts are The Secret Life Of Pets 2 and The Lego Movie 2. After viewing the trailer for the latter film, it looks like a great continuation of the original movie with great in joke references to actor Chris Pratt’s role in the Jurassic World films. And with Will Arnett returning as the voice of Batman, the film could be the animated hit of the summer.
Returning to the subject of who will certainly survive the Avengers movie, we know Peter Parker and his webbed alter ego will. Sony brings us Spider-Man: Far From Home. Marvel hits us again with a fourth film of the summer (a fifth if The New Mutants is EVER released) with their followup to Spider-Man: Homecoming. Tom Holland again dons the spandex suit as our friendly neighborhood web crawler, making his second appearance of the summer season and i can’t wait. My favourite comic book character swinging back into movie theatres? I’m there! Get out of my way, I’m the first in line to see it!
John Wick returns for his final outing in John Wick: Parabellum. Keanu Reeves again reprises the highly trained assassin,this time on the run from the rest of the worlds killers after his Faux Pais at the end of the second film. Ably supported on-screen by Laurence Fishburne and Halle Berry, the film promises to be a rollercoaster ride like its previous two installments and a fitting end to the saga.
Sylvester Stallone returns towards the end of the year with the fifth and reportedly final installment of the First Blood series that started back in 1982. Rambo: Last Blood sees the Vietnam veteran working with horses on a ranch, his fighting days long behind him. When a friend’s daughter is kidnapped by a drugs cartel, Rambo enters into Mexico, determined to get her back by any means necessary. If you’ve seen the previous four films in the franchise, you’ll know that it wont end peacefully or bloodless. I’ll be sad to see Stallone retire the character but I do feel the character had the perfect resolution to his story in the previous film, Rambo back in 2008. Still, im intrigued to see what they come up with this time.
December is the month all film companies are trying to avoid. Get their new releases out earlier in the month and then wait until January to release any more. Why? There’s a small film coming out that will dominate the holiday season. Whereas The Avengers will (probably) rule the summer box office, one film will rule the Christmas one.
Star Wars: Episode IX looms large, like the true unmovable object it is. The Skywalker saga closing film and the finale to the new trilogy, the box office is braced for its tills to bulge with cinemagoers cash. Thirty six years coming, this final episode will dominate and decimate its rivals. Christmas 2018 was the perfect time to release a film to grab the cash and make your film a big success. The reason? No Star Wars film was being released. Going up against THE daddy of the box office would be a mistake. Fans are looking at the film to atone for what they didn’t like in the 8th episode (I loved it, sue me!). This is the one the fans have been waiting for. This is the one that could finish the Episode films permanently. This WILL be Mark Hamill‘s swansong as Luke Skywalker. Even though the films will miss each other by eight months, this is the box office battle of the year. Avengers Vs Star Wars. Both are going to open huge. Both will be unstoppable. Both will leave us breathless and in some respects, crying into our popcorn. Both will break our hearts with character deaths, some expected, some that will shock us.
These are but a handful of the films scheduled for release this year. The year has only just begun. I intend to see at least two films per week, every week this coming year. These few I have written about will certainly be high on my to see list but there are others out there that will come out of nowhere, grab my attention and become one of my favourite films of the year.
Happy new year to you all and happy movie viewing!
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Entertainment/Books and Literature Correspondent for The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!