As we approach the end of the year and the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, perhaps the most highly anticipated sequel of all time, what better time than now to look ahead to the hottest sequels coming out in 2016? As you probably know, the film industry has grown incredibly dependent on the success of its "tentpoles", or long-running franchises, like the aforementioned Star Wars. The studio's success with these tentpole franchises largely began with superhero movies, like X-Men and Spider-Man, in the early 2000s.
Although superhero movies are still incredibly viable and important moneymakers, studios have expanded the scope of their tentpoles by rebooting old franchises (Indiana Jones, Star Trek, Mad Max, etc.) and creating a variety of animated and comedy franchises.
In 2016, we see a variety of these different types of tentpoles popping up. Superheroes are well represented with Batman and Superman finally battling out and the X-Men returning (yet again). There's an Independence Day reboot that's garnering a lot of buzz as well as the return of one of Pixar's most cherished characters in Finding Dory.
This isn't even scratching the surface but, clearly, there's a huge slate of sequels scheduled for 2016 release. Below is a list of the sequels that I am most excited to see in the coming year.
10 X-Men: Apocalypse
The trailer for the new X-Men installment, Apocalypse, just dropped this week and it already looks like one of the franchise's best. The stakes are high as Apocalypse (played by the great Oscar Isaac, who's on quite the hot streak as of late) looks to completely wipe out the world. Once again, Bryan Singer gets the directorial nod. The cast includes Jennifer Lawrence, Olivia Munn and Michael Fassbender among others. The X-Men films have been a stalwart of the tentpole era and for good reasons: they're mostly great. Apocalypse is set to release on May 27, 2016. Watch the trailer below.
9 Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
After Disney bought the Star Wars franchise, the company made big plans surrounding its new acquisition. Apparently, Rogue One is part of an anthology series consisting of stand-alone films. Rogue One is not part of the same Star Wars trilogy as The Force Awakens. Instead, the film focuses on the events that took place between 2005's Revenge of the Sith and 1977's A New Hope. The plot is said to focus on a group of rebels dedicated to stealing the plans for the Death Star. Sounds promising enough. Gareth Edwards, who directed the recent Godzilla reboot, is at the helm, directing a cast that includes Felicity Jones and Diego Luna, among others. The film is set for a December 16, 2016 release. A trailer has yet to be released although some critics have speculated that it will air before the imminent Force Awakens.
8 Star Trek: Beyond
Beyond is the first of the rebooted Star Trek films that J.J. Abrams is not at the helm of but, nonetheless, it looks great (as evidenced by the recently released trailer included below.) Instead, Star Trek: Beyond will be directed by the incredibly talented Justin Lin. Lin has directed a handful of movies in the Fast and Furious franchise as well as episodes of Community and True Detective. Perhaps his best work is one of his least known films, 2002's Better Luck Tomorrow. Returning members of the cast include Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana and Simon Pegg. New additions include Idris Elba and Sofia Boutella. Star Trek: Beyond is set to release on June 22, 2016.
7 Barbershop: The Next Cut
Barbershop is back! Much of the original cast (Ice Cube, Queen Latifah, Eve and Cedric the Entertainer) returns to the shop to deliver some laughs and levity. Notable additions to the cast include Nicki Minaj, Common, J.B. Smoove and Deon Cole (as well as Tyga, whose character is aptly title "Whack MC"). The Next Cut was directed by Malcolm D. Lee who has a history of delivering on great comedies with primarily black casts. In the past, Lee has worked on Undercover Brother, Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins and The Best Man, among other films. The Next Cut is slated for release on April 15, 2016, the trailer is below.
6 Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
Although 2012's Jack Reacher (based on Lee Child's novel "One Shot") didn't perform as well as some execs had hoped, it is now clear that Paramount is moving forward with Reacher as a tentpole franchise. This is exciting for me because I felt that Jack Reacher was a particularly good action flick that definitely deserved a sequel. Never Go Back, which once again stars Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher, is directed by the esteemed Edward Zwick who has worked on films like Glory, Legends of the Fall and Blood Diamond. Although the production did face delays, the film is set for an October 21, 2016 release. A trailer has not yet been released.
5 Finding Dory
Finding Nemo is one of the most adored movies of the 2000s, a watershed achievement in animation and one of Pixar's most accomplished works. When Finding Dory is released on June 17, 2016, it will have been 13 years since we have seen Pixar's beautifully-realized underwater world. Andrew Stanton is back at the helm of the project, this time with the help of Angus MacLane instead of Lee Unkrich. Andrew Stanton has also co-directed A Bug's Life and directed Wall-E (Stanton's only non-animated feature was the bust of all busts, John Carter). Ellen DeGeneres is back as Dory and Albert Brooks returns as Marlin. New additions to the cast include Ty Burell, Ed O' Neill and Kaitlin Olsen. Watch the trailer below.
4 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny
When it was released in 2000, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was an out-of-left-field smash. The film was directed by the great Ang Lee and it starred the equally great Chow-Yun Fat. The film made hundreds of millions of dollars and was showered with accolades, including an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
The sequel, Sword of Destiny, is being produced by Netflix. It is the first film that will be released simultaneously on the streaming platform and in IMAX theaters on February 26, 2016. Although the cast and crew are completely different, it's hard not to be excited about another Crouching Tiger installment.
3 Independence Day: Resurgence
The trailer for the new Independence Day reboot, Resurgence, dropped this week and damn near broke the internet. It makes sense, the 1996 original is an adored piece of American cinema. As far as I can tell from the trailer and IMDB, Bill Pullman is back as the president and Jeff Goldblum returns as David Levinson but unfortunately, there's no sign of Will Smith. Vivica A. Fox also returns with new additions like Liam Hemsworth, Joey King and Maika Monroe, among others. Resurgence looks like a thrilling reboot that picks up where the first Independence Day left off, with a country facing total destruction on July 4th. The film releases on June 24, 2016.
2 Zoolander 2
Zoolander is one of the most loved comedies of the modern era. Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson and Will Ferrell all delivered career defining performances in the 2001 original and all three are back for the reboot, 15 years later. Stiller will once again do double duty as the film's star and director. New additions to the cast include Kristen Wiig, Justin Theroux Olivia Munn and Benedict Cumberbatch, among others. Even Kim Kardashian West will be making a cameo. Hopefully Zoolander 2 will deliver in ways that the Anchorman sequel didn't. The film is scheduled to release on February 12, 2016. Check out the trailer below.
1 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
I know what you're thinking: this isn't a sequel. True, but many in the comic books world suggest that it is a sequel of sorts, since the story line features returning superhero Superman, played by Henry Cavill. This is perhaps the most hyped film of the upcoming era. Finally, we will be able to see DC's two biggest heroes on the screen together battling it out. It's kind of every nerds fantasy, ever. Dawn of Justice finds Henry Cavill returning as Clark Kent, reprising the super role once again after his performance in the less than stellar Man of Steel. His adversary, Bruce Wayne, will be played by Ben Affleck. Amy Adams will also reprise her role as Lois Lane and Jesse Eisenberg will take a stab at Lex Luthor. The film is directed by Zack Snyder who has helmed action classics like 300 and Watchmen. Dawn of Justice is scheduled for a March 25, 2016 release date. Watch the trailer below.