If, like me, you generally include “superhero” films within your definition of what qualifies as science fiction (well, for the most part; no way we can shoehorn in Classics Illustrated like Ivanhoe or Oliver Twist, but books like Magnus: Robot Fighter or Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction sure fit the bill ) then, despite whatever criticisms may be justifiably leveled at individual properties, you sure can’t complain (too much) that Hollywood isn’t doing its damndest to get you into the theater these days.
If you’re starting to complain about the “glut” (too much of a good thing, right?),well, you might just want to stifle yourself and save the real complaining for sometime in 2020 because you ain’t seen nothing yet!
The next five years are going to see an unprecedented number of superhero and SF-related films the likes of which have never been experienced before in the history of humankind. Marvel alone has 18 films scheduled, in development or planned for; DC comes in with 11. Disney isn’t letting their Marvel division carry all the weight either and a host of other studios are vying for slots too.
According to IMDB (and other sources), there are some 630+ films fitting the “sci fi” genre definition scheduled for release, in production or “in development” between now and 2020.
Of course, most of these films will be finding their way to the bargain bin at your local
video rental store Wal*Mart, or will end up streaming on Netflix, but Holy DVR Batman! That’s 126 films per year on average. You’d need to watch one every 2.89 days just to keep up!
When I was much younger, the Walnut Street Theater in Philadelphia used to host an annual 24 hour science fiction film festival; Philly was easy to get to from my neck of the New Jersey woods (commuter rail) and one fine year I packed myself up a shopping bag full of sandwiches, drinks and snacks, dressed myself in comfy clothes and headed off for IMMERSION. Honestly, I sat with my legs crossed tailor-fashion for 16 straight hours of rapt attention: Barbarella, Seconds, Fantastic Planet, Forbidden Planet, 2001, Planet of the Apes…when I decided I needed to take a bathroom break, I fell flat on my face, as my legs had gone so thoroughly to sleep, I was unaware that they weren’t responding.
I’d not do that again (I’ve learned to stand up and stretch since) but what the studios have planned for us is just about the next best thing – a never-ending deluge of trailer releases, SuperBowl commercials, toy lines and footy PJs with your favorite logo printed on them!
2015 alone will make your head spin: we’ve got:
the recently released Chappie, preceded by Predestination, Jupiter Ascending, Kingsman, Hot Tub Time Machine 2, Cinderella, Insurgent and the up-and-coming:
Ex Machina, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mad Max: Fury Road, Tomorrowland, Jurassic World, Terminator: Genysis, Ant Man, Pan, Poltergeist, Fantastic Four, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Maze Runner The Scorch Trials, Hotel Transylvania 2, Victor Frankenstein, The Jungle Book, Jem and the Holograms, Spectre, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, The Martian, Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens and Mission Impossible 5, just to name the stand outs (?)
Of those 22, I imagine Avengers, Tomorrowland, Jurassic, Terminator, UNCLE, The Martian and Star Wars may be worth the price of a ticket. I stress the ‘may’.
But we’re just getting started. The next five years, at least in terms of genre film, is going to resemble a python that’s just swallowed a rhinoceros, and I’m feeling a bit of indigestion coming on – probably the same as that snake must be feeling. The questions are these: will Hollywood ever relax enough to bring us some really intelligent science fiction? Surely there’s room in the budget and the schedule for 1 or 2 out of 600+? In other words, will they “respect their audience” and realize that a good portion of it wants MORE than just eye candy and explosions?
Perhaps more importantly: will Hollywood (and the fans) become victims of their own success? I mean, you can only watch so many superhero flicks before you find yourself wanting to re-watch Casablanca or Mr. Smith Goes to Washington just to wash your eyeballs. With films scheduled five years out and fans possibly getting a bit tired of the same old thing – how much tailing off at the box office will the bean counters tolerate before they declare that we’re just not worth investing in any more? They’ll put a hold on anything that smacks of skiffy at that point, considering the genre to have been mined out – when what we’re (still) waiting for is 2001: A Space Odyssey Part 2, the reboot in an alternate timeline.
How is publishing going to respond? Are we going to see the already minimalist section of the bookstore crowded and overrun with tie-in novels?
Or worse: will success bring about the inevitable mashup follow-ons like: T. Rex vs T2; Star Wars: Road Adventures of the Cantina Band; or Bill & Teds Hot Tub Adventure?
Marvel Film Releases:
April 10th, 2015: Daredevil (Netflix TV Series)
May 1st, 2015: Avengers: Age of Ultron
July 17th, 2015: Ant-Man
May 6th, 2016: Captain America: Civil War
November 4th, 2016, Doctor Strange
May 5th, 2017, Guardians of the Galaxy 2
July 28th, 2017: The Spectacular Spider-Man
November 3rd, 2017: Thor: Ragnarok
May 4th, 2018, Avengers: Infinity War Part 1
July 6th, 2018, Black Panther
November 2nd, 2018, Captain Marvel
May 3rd, 2019, Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2
July 12th, 2019, Inhumans
DC Film Releases:
March 25th, 2016 – Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
August 5th, 2016 – Suicide Squad
June 23rd, 2017 – Wonder Woman
November 17th, 2017 – Justice League Part One
March 23rd, 2018 – The Flash
July 27th, 2018 – Aquaman
April 5th, 2019 – Shazam
June 14th, 2019 – Justice League Part Two
April 3rd, 2020 – Cyborg
June 19th, 2020 – Green Lantern
Legion of Super-Heroes