Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens both dominated entertainment news headlines and broke numerous box office records throughout December 2015, kicking off Disney/Lucasfilm's shared Star Wars movie universe in the process. Filmgoers will get to return to galaxy far, far away near the end of 2016 too, with the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - the first of several planned Star Wars spinoff/solo films, as directed by Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) and starring names like Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal), and Donnie Yen (Ip Man).
Rogue One is the most anticipated release among Fandango users, according to a survey that includes votes from thousands of the online ticketing service's users. Fandango's top five anticipated 2016 films also includes superhero tentpoles Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War, as well as the long-awaited sequels Finding Dory (in the number two spot) and Bourne 5 (in the number four spot).
It's no surprise that anticipation levels are high for Rogue One right now, what with The Force Awakens having only just properly re-invigorated the Star Wars fanbase and gotten them excited to watch a new generation of filmmakers - including Rian Johnson (Looper) with Episode VIII as well as Phil Lord and Chris Miller (21 & 22 Jump Street) with the young Han Solo movie - play in this sandbox. Although The Force Awakens similarly topped Fandango's most anticipated 2015 films around this same time a year ago, Rogue One simply won't have the "event" status that Episode VII did - and thus, is pretty unlikely to scale the same daunting box office heights. Not that it needs to do that to be a success, of course.
Similarly, it's to be expected that Finding Dory would rank among the most anticipated 2016 movies for Fandango's users, seeing as Pixar's sequel will appeal to a wide range of people - including, those who grew up watching Finding Nemo before it and the current generation of young filmgoers for whom Pixar films are perfect viewing choices. Pixar's The Good Dinosaur performed below expectations when it hit theaters in late November 2015, but Finding Dory ought to enjoy a box office turnout more on the level of last year's critical darling Inside Out, as well as past new installments in established Pixar franchises (like Toy Story 3 and Monsters University).
Batman v Superman and Captain America: Civil War, in turn, ranked third and fifth in Fandango's most anticipated 2016 films countdown, but the story could change when those movies hit theaters later this year. There's a lot of interest and buzz surrounding both superhero comic book adaptations, as well as the role they play in setting up additional installments for their respective shared movie universes - the DC Extended Universe and Marvel Cinematic Universe, respectively - and that might well translate into huge business at the box office, too. Really, the question isn't whether there's room for both to flourish (there is); rather, it is a question of whether each film can offer a good viewing experience that leaves the public excited for more of these superhero franchises.
Bourne 5, as mentioned earlier, marks the much-anticipated return of Matt Damon to the Jason Bourne role, so it doesn't come as a huge surprise that the film would land so high among Fandango's users. While the Jeremy Renner-headlined Bourne franchise installment The Bourne Legacy under-whelmed both critically and commercially, it's plausible that Damon's return to the title role will re-invigorate the international thriller property on both fronts. All the same, the Bourne franchise has never been on the same box office level as franchises like Star Wars and Marvel/DC or Pixar feature films for that matter - meaning that among Fandango's top five anticipated 2016 releases, Bourne 5 seems the least likely to remain in the top five at the box office this year too, when all is said and done.
Rounding out Fandango's top 10 anticipated films in 2016 after Civil War (in order) are director Justin Lin's Star Trek sequel, Star Trek Beyond; Roland Emmerich's Independence Day: Resurgence, opening in theaters twenty years after the director's original alien invasion blockbuster; Bryan Singer's X-Men: First Class trilogy finale, X-Men: Apocalypse; Ben Stiller's sequel to his 2001 cult hit comedy, Zoolander 2; and Jon Favreau's live-action/CGI Disney flick, The Jungle Book. Per usual, we will just have to wait and see how well these anticipation levels ultimately translate into box office returns - but making the cut here certainly doesn't bode poorly for any of these titles.
Other things worth noting from Fandango's reader survey:
- Matt Damon is the "Most Anticipated Actor" for Bourne 5, followed by Will Smith as Deadshot in David Ayer's Suicide Squad and Ryan Reynolds as the eponymous "The Merc With a Mouth" in Tim Miller's Deadpool. Those comic book adaptations certainly have breakout potential (as far as their box office prospects are concerned) and could follow in the footsteps of such comparable hits from years past as Guardians of the Galaxy and Kingsman: The Secret Service, respectively.
- Melissa McCarthy is the "Most Anticipated Actress" for her role in Paul Feig's Ghostbusters reboot, while her costar in the film, Leslie Jones, likewise ranked second on the list of "Rising Female Movie Stars". Sony's revival of the Ghostbusters franchise arrives the same month as Star Trek Beyond and Bourne 5, but the combination of brand appeal and star power (including, more SNL vets in Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon as well as several original Ghostbusters stars in cameos) means that Feig's movie should be able to hold its own against the competition.
You can head over to Variety to read the full results for Fandango's 2016 movies survey.