This can be a sad, dark time of year for moviegoers. With awards season behind us and blockbuster season waiting for warmer weather, your local cinema’s fare may be looking rather sparse.
The next month does have the potential to bring some joy—with films like Cinderella and Insurgent—but we will have to wait for the year’s heaviest hitters. As spring arrives, though, we will see the beginnings of a stacked lineup of powerhouse films, one deeper and broader than any in recent memory. After a year marked by many questioning the staying power of the industry due to lackluster box office numbers, 2015 stands poised to make a strong statement about the enduring influence film holds over this country.
Netflix and its contemporaries, and the new technology that still awaits us, make many worry about the future of cinema. Some would rather stay in than spend big at the theater. This year should test those individuals. With projects begging to be seen on the big screen, and a full slate of substantive blockbusters, American moviegoing may reach unprecedented heights.
Even in the year’s opening two months, the American box office has shown signs of life. American Sniper dominated our theaters for weeks. While the film technically goes down as a 2014 release, thus striking its earnings—over $300 million to this point—from 2015 totals, its success bodes well for the rest of the year.
As for the films released this calendar year, Fifty Shades of Grey and The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water have emerged as early stars, boasting two of the best winter openings ever, each earning about $140 million by the beginning of March. Moreover, this bevy of winter successes represent a variety of genres and target demographics, which holds true for the blockbusters coming in the months ahead.
As the school year winds down, the box office should skyrocket for the rest of 2015. With May Day comes Avengers: Age of Ultron. The Avengers’ success needs no explanation, and the goodwill surrounding its ever-expanding universe suggests that the sequel has the firepower to surpass the original’s domestic gross of over $600 million. Pitch Perfect 2 comes two weeks later, likely in line to shoot past its predecessor’s success.
The months following present similar mixes of surefire hits and potential surprises. June brings Jurassic World and growing star Chris Pratt. The summer months also intend to make sure we get our Marvel fix, with the big-budget gamut of Ant-Man and Fantastic Four.
Besides the action-packed fare, 2015’s middle months offer alternatives for other demographics. Entourage and Ted 2 could be two of the year’s best performers, though whether or not the latter can match the original’s success remains to be seen. Regardless, the commercial success of those two films should be a fascinating mid-year barometer. For the family, Minions, The Peanuts Movie, and Goosebumps all have the potential to break out, with Minions probably the most likely to do so thanks to the success of Despicable Me.
No matter what happens through the fall, 2015 should finish strong at the box office, with an overflowing winter slate. In November, we will see the epic conclusion of The Hunger Games series and the endlessly promising Spectre, armed with the cast and Skyfall-infused buzz necessary to make it the most successful Bond film of all time. December gives us Mission: Impossible 5 but most importantly the arrival of Star Wars: Episode VII. Its prime holiday release, coupled with fans’ desire for films reminiscent of the original trilogy’s glory, should propel it to weeks of commercial dominance, capping off a booming year.
Any number of arguments can be made about American movies today, and attacks on our sequel-happy, superhero-worshipping culture may have some merit. But moving pictures have captivated us for over a century and show no signs of disappearing. To those who fear an ugly fate for Hollywood, be patient. Twelve months from now, maybe we’ll wish there were more Boyhoods and Selmas out there. But we will still be making the trek to the theater, in droves, still enamored with the flickering images before our eyes.