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Entries in Ant-Man (1)



Just how crowded is the film marketplace in 2015? In compiling this feature, Meet the Filmmakers had to cull the latest from James Bond; new films from Michael Mann, Guillermo del Toro, Robert Zemeckis and Quentin Tarantino; Pixar’s first theatrical title in two years; the final instalment of The Hunger Games franchise; and, Ah-nold’s return as The Terminator. As 2014 winds up, here are the 2015 films (with US release dates included) that are piquing our interest…

10. ANT-MAN (July 17)
News of Marvel’s latest was all the Internet could handle when director Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz; Shaun of the Dead) announced his new film would be the comic giant’s niche cult-hero, Ant-Man (pictured, above). But when ‘creative differences’ led to his departure well into pre-production, fans braced themselves. The replacement – Hollywood journeyman Peyton Reed, best known for the cheerleader romp Bring It On; the star – Paul Rudd, a solid if safe choice who’ll be playing darker than his on-screen persona has ever allowed; ace in the hole – Michael Douglas, who stuck with the project despite the departure of Wright.
HIT/MISS – Guardians of the Galaxy gave Marvel Films the creative shot-in-the-arm it needed and if Ant-Man finds its own, fresh voice, expect big things. If it proves to be a ‘boardroom’ film, pandering to shareholders needs and playing safe, fans may revolt given the missed opportunity Edgar Wright’s departure represents.

9. PEANUTS (November 6)
The estate of the late Charles Shultz must be licking their lips now that the cartoonist’s iconic group of friends is getting the Hollywood 3D animation makeover. Charged with making 1950’s suburban kids relevant today is Steve Martino (the colourful, if a bit one-note, Horton Hears a Hoo!; the uninspiring Ice Age: Continental Drift). The comic strip ended a 50-year run in 2000, so the key under-10 demo will have to rely on Mum and Dad to upsell the backstory. The animation (as seen in the teaser trailer) finds an intriguing balance between old and new, but is it too cutesy in the Pixar era?
HIT/MISS – The potential for merchandising profits is too huge for 20th Century Fox to drop the ball here. They will make sure it connects.

In the can for over a year (it was originally slated as a summer 2014 release), Tomorrowland is Brad Bird’s latest, a filmmaker who has yet to put a directorial foot wrong (The Iron Giant; The Incredibles; Ratatouille; Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol). Despite its extended post-production period and high-profile leading man, George Clooney, the fact is very little is known about its plot; two teens create a device that can propel them through time and space in an instant, bringing them to the Utopian society of the title. Or something like that.
HIT/MISS – It’s Bird’s long-in-gestation passion project, and his instincts have been spot-on so far. Despite the difficulty Hollywood execs have selling a fresh idea and with the charming Clooney to woo the talk show circuit, it’s a hit.

7. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (May 15)
Dr George Miller’s reboot of his own iconic creation, the ‘Road Warrior’ lone cop Max Rockatansky, has travelled its own long, bumpy highway to its May 2015 release. Originally aiming for a 2014 slot, industry buzz suggested that the post-production period was going to be immense. Seems Miller (pictured, right; on location with star Tom Hardy) shot logistically daunting and wildly spectacular stunt sequences yet neglected that other crucial element – a plot. Allegedly, the mantra during the shoot was “We’ll fix it in post.” On-set tension was also cited; reports hinted at bitterness between stars Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron.
HIT/MISS - Which will all mean nothing when Mad Max Fury Road opens to huge figures. It is yet another reboot, sure, but Max is an iconic film figure that crosses generational demographics. He will rule the early US summer landscape.

Never underestimate Spielberg, the most commercially successful filmmaker of all time. His most recent film was 2011 Lincoln, a 2½ hour historical drama that would take an extraordinary US$182million domestically. Prior to that, he broke new technological ground with The Adventures of Tintin and survived the worst reviews of his career to turn Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull into a blockbuster; even the noble failure War Horse took US$180million globally. In 2015, he reteams with Tom Hanks, with whom he has crafted some of his best late-career work (Saving Private Ryan, Catch Me If You Can and, yes, even the unfairly-derided The Terminal) for a Cold War thriller that recalls arguably his best film of the last decade, Munich (pictured, left; the star and director on-set).
HIT/MISS – Hit, of course, but skewing older and dependent upon critical raves to breakout. With Joel and Ethan Coen supplying the screenplay and Hanks’ resurgence in full swing after Captain Phillips and Saving Mr Banks, the October release date pins it as an Oscar contender. 

Spielberg again, but wearing his producer’s hat for this fourth trip to an island of the coast of Costa Rica. Is it a sequel? Is it a reboot? Whatever; that kind pre-release analysis will count for nought when this drops June 12 and becomes one of the biggest films of the year. The unknown factor is director Colin Trevorrow, who showed great skill with character chemistry and gentle fantasy in Safety Not Guaranteed, but has no runs on the board in the blockbuster, effects-heavy, summer tentpole stakes. Trump card – Chris Pratt, in his first action hero role since Guardians of the Galaxy. And new-look dinosaurs. And Spielberg.
HIT/MISS – Come on, really?

4. FIFTY SHADES OF GREY (February 13)
EL James’ literary phenomenon made the complexities of a BDSM relationship palatable and smoothly stylish to the masses. Converting that to the bigscreen will be a tricky task; no one is pretending these airport novels were Pulitzer-worthy, but they envisioned a world of intricate intimacies that built a big, passionate following. That could easily unravel when translated to a commercial film template (pictured, right; stars Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson). Perhaps fittingly, everything we’ve seen about the film to date – the young, pretty stars; the trailer; Beyonce’s contribution to the soundtrack – reeks of style over substance. Slotting the World Premiere for the prestige Berlinale suggests a high level of confidence in critic’s reaction, but that could backfire if the knives come out.
HIT/MISS – Will open huge, but word-of-mouth will be crucial. At best, it will set pulses racing and upscale audiences talking, ala 9½ Weeks or Fatal Attraction; at worst, it is this years Showgirls. Reports that multiplex audiences were giggling at the trailer is not a good sign; European filmgoers will probably wonder what all the fuss is about. Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho; The Canyons) pitched hard for the gig, but studio types found his take too raw (read; commercially risky).

3. THE MARTIAN (November 25)
His output has grown erratic, but news of a ‘Ridley Scott sci-fi adventure’ still quickens the pulse (pictured, left). This adaptation of Andy Weir’s cult novel posits Matt Damon alone and trying to survive all Mars can throw at him until his rescue craft arrive. Big plusses are co-stars Jessica Chastain and Kate Mara (in for quite a year, with her Fantastic Four reboot also pending). Next up for Scott will be the Blade Runner sequel, so here’s hoping The Martian will be a return to form.
HIT/MISS – Dunno. Scott is having a rough trot, with Prometheus, The Councillor and Exodus Gods and Kings all earning blah notices and mid-range box office; the last movie that took us to the red planet was the infamous John Carter; big, ambitious sci-fi films like Interstellar and Gravity divide opinion (though, admittedly, rake in the bucks).

All the gang are back, this time to take on James Spader’s bad guy Ultron in writer/director Joss Whedon’s follow-up to his own 2012 box-office behemoth. Expect more of the same city-wrecking, hulk-smashing entertainment, as only Marvel can deliver (over and over again, it would seem). New cast members Elizabeth Olsen (as Scarlet Witch) and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (as Quicksilver) were hot when cast, but their blah chemistry as husband-and-wife in Godzilla may see them pushed into the background in all key art (Johnson is nowhere to be found in the latest trailer).
HIT/MISS – Early footage feels a little too much like those clunky, grinding Transformer films and the wheels will fall off this whole Marvel superhero tentpole trend eventually. But not in 2015 - this is a certifiable blockbuster.

The teaser trailer broke the web, with 20million YouTube views on its day of release. Director JJ Abrams, a Star Wars devotee, further appeased fans by bringing in veteran scriptwriter Lawrence Kasdan, the man who penned The Empire Strikes Back. Casting news, whether new players (Daisy Ridley, Oscar nominee Oscar Isaacs, Adam Driver) or the return of old friends (Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill), ran across all media, fan-based or not. Word is that the plot takes place 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, but no details have been forthcoming.
HIT/MISS – Invincible against any and all outside influences. Critical reaction, box office competition, the unpredictability of the weather – The Force Awakens is the four-quadrant event film of 2015.