Sequels, reboots and adaptations dominate 2016 movie schedule

Moviegoers can expect more of the same themes on the big screen, but done differently

Sequels, reboots and adaptations will be dominating the blockbuster movie schedule next year. But that does not mean there is nothing new about them to look forward to.

Familiar superheroes will face unusual challenges (for example, battling one another in Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice and Captain America: Civil War), while antiheroes take centre stage in Deadpool and Suicide Squad.

While the Ghostbusters will be returning to action more than 30 years after they first started, the team is refreshed with an all-female one.

Elsewhere, J.K. Rowling’s magical world finds a new lead in Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne for Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. Sometimes, old is gold.

• All movie release dates are subject to change


Director: Tim Miller

Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Gina Carano

What: Arude and obnoxious mercenary gets accelerated healing powers after he is subjected to an experiment that goes wrong.He adopts the alter ego Deadpool and sets out to find the person who nearly ruined his life.

Why: With irreverent trailers that have found favour with movie fans, this could finally be the first movie hit for Reynolds,who has suffered numerous flops with films such as Green Lantern (2011) and R.I.P.D. (2013).

Opens: Feb 11


Director: Ben Stiller

Stars: Ben Stiller,Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell

What: In this follow-up to cult favourite Zoolander (2001), a string of celebrities are murdered and found dead with model Derek Zoolander’s (Stiller) iconic Blue Steel look on their faces. Interpol recruits Zoolander and his model friend Hansel (Wilson) to uncover the truth behind the bizarre deaths.

Why: The original film was initially banned here because its plot involved the assassination of a fictitious Malaysian prime minister (it was screened four years later in 2006). Blue Steel and all the other inspired absurdity will finally get a proper showing here at the same time as everywhere else. Besides, with a roster of celebrities including Justin Bieber and Penelope Cruz queueing to make themselves look silly, what is there not to love about this movie?

Opens: March 3


Director: Robert Schwentke

Stars: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Octavia Spencer,Ray Stevenson, Zoe Kravitz

What: In this first of the two-part finale of the hit Divergent series, Tris (Woodley) escapes from the walls of Chicago with Four (James), where they unveil shocking new discoveries about their troubled city.

Why: To the chagrin of movie executives, all successful young adult movie franchises have to end sometime, whether they are about boy wizards or vampires. Here is hoping that this will end more spectacularly than the dragged-out The Hunger Games movies.

Opens: March 17


Director: Zack Snyder

Stars: Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Jesse Eisenberg,Amy Adams, Gal Gadot

What: In this follow-up to Man Of Steel (2013), masked vigilante Batman joins in the fun, battling to keep Superman’s powers in check. Meanwhile, another superhero in the form of Wonder Woman (Gadot) is also on the horizon. Then right on cue, supervillain monster Dooms day emerges and– what else –threatens to destroy the world.

Why: Never mind that Affleck was such an unwelcome casting choice for Batman, because Batman fights Superman here and the question on everyone’s lips has to be:“How is it a fair fight when a normal human, even one with a lot of gadgets, goes up against an alien with real superpowers rather than just a fancy car?”

Opens: March 24


Director: Jon Favreau

Stars: Neel Sethi, Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong’o

What: This live-action remake of the 1967 Disney animation classic follows the story of Mowgli (Sethi), a boy who is raised by wolves, and his adventures in the jungle where he encounters creatures such as black panther Bagheera (voiced by Kingsley) and bear Baloo (Murray).

Why: Disney did well with its live-action remake of the classic animation Cinderella earlier this year, so this work featuring lush greenery and extensive CGI work is promising, if nothing else, for taking away the twee sweetness and introducing the sinister.

Opens: April 14


Directors: Anthony and Joe Russo

Stars: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan,Tom Holland, Jeremy Renner

What: An international incident prompts politicians to form a governing body to decide when it is appropriate to call in the Avengers, which leads to differing views within the superhero team. Captain America (Evans) wants nothing to do with rules and regulations, while Iron Man(Downey Jr) is all for government supervision.

Why: Batman fights Superman in the other movie, while Captain America will engage in an epic showdown with Iron Man here.Why can’t all the superheroes just get along?Do not make us take sides.

Opens: April 28


Director: Bryan Singer

Stars: Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult

What: The X-Men mutants return to save the world when the world’s first mutant Apocalypse (Isaac) suddenly awakes after several millennia.

Why: Ever since the X-Men series moved into the prequel era and featured this younger and hotter cast, the movies have found a new lease of life. In particular, the sizzling chemistry between McAvoy and Fassbender as frenemies is enough to lift the movies.And with rising star Isaac joining in as the villain, this looks set to be thrilling stuff.

Opens: May 19


Director: Andrew Stanton

Stars: Voices of Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Diane Keaton,Ty Burrell

What: In this spin-off of Finding Nemo(2003), forgetful fish Dory (DeGeneres) suddenly recalls childhood memories of her parents. With her friends Martin and Nemo, she sets out to find them and winds up at the Monterey Marine Life Institute.

Why: Dory was the breakout star of Finding Nemo and it only makes sense for the adorably amnesiac but optimistic fish to get her own movie. The 12-year gap has not dimmed fans’ love of the fish– it has only inflamed it.

Opens: June 16


Director: Steven Spielberg

Stars: Ruby Barnhill, Mark Rylance, Bill Hader, Rebecca Hall

What: Based on Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book of the same name, this live-action adaptation follows the story of a young orphan girl called Sophie (Barnhill),who partners the Big Friendly Giant (Rylance) to stop carnivorous giants from eating people.

Why: Dahl’s children’s stories never spare his audience the more terrible realities of life, such as cruel adults. Judging from an early trailer, this adaptation of one of his most popular books retains the original story’s dark tone. If done right, this will be the perfect family movie outing.

Opens: June 30


Director: Paul Feig

Stars: Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones

What: In this reboot of the hit 1984 movie, Wiig and McCarthy play a pair of authors who are mocked for writing a book about ghosts being real, which flops. When they actually start encountering ghosts, they decide to team upwith their buddies to form the Ghostbusters, setting out to vanquish ghosts to redeem their reputations.

Why: A feisty all-girls version of the iconic Ghostbusters? It is totally surprising, so yes, please. And with director Feig reuniting with his Bridesmaids (2011) stars Wiig and McCarthy, their comedic chemistry is all but guaranteed. Plus, the stars from the original movie will be making cameos–look out for Bill Murray,Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson,among others.

Opens: July 14


Director: Justin Lin

Stars: Zachary Quinto, Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, SimonPegg

What: An unknown alien species destroys Captain Kirk’s (Pine) prized Enterprise starship and leaves himand his crew stranded on an unknown planet.

Why: After film-maker J.J. Abrams made Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), he went on to helm the massive hit Star Wars:The Force Awakens, leaving Fast&Furious director Lin to take over the reins in this follow-up. Trekkies will scrutinise this in fear that their beloved franchise will become just another generic action blockbuster with magnificent vehicles, albeit science-fiction ones.

Opens: July 21


Director: David Ayer

Stars: Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Cara Delevingne

What: In exchange for clemency, a government agency hires imprisoned supervillains to undergo high-risk covert operations. Based on DC Comics’ antihero comics series of the same name.

Why: The visuals look fantastic (Leto’s transformation into The Joker is even crazier than Heath Ledger’s version in The Dark Knight) and everyone knows that the bad guys are more fun.

Opens: Aug 4


Director: Scott Derrickson

Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton

What: Top neuro surgeon Dr Strange (Cumberbatch) gets injured in a car accident, which renders him unable to carry out surgery properly. While on the road to recovery, he is taken in by the mystical Ancient One(Swinton),who imparts magical knowledge to him.

Why: This looks like it will be very different from the typical Marvel superhero movie, with less action and more focus on supernatural magic. For Cumberb*tches (the unofficial name of Cumberbatch fans), this project will tide them over until the new season of Sherlock returns in 2017.

Opens: Nov3


Director: David Yates

Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston,Dan Fogler, Samantha Morton

What: Eccentric British wizard Newt Scamander (Redmayne) brings with him to New York a magical briefcase filled with magical creatures, which cause mayhem when they escape.

Why: The Harry Potter movies have ended, but relive J.K. Rowling’s magical world through this film inspired by the author’s spin-off book of the same name. Wizarding trio Harry,Ron and Hermione will not make appearances, but with big-name stars such as Oscar winner Redmayne taking on new characters, they might not be missed so much. The film also marks Rowling’s screenwriting debut.

Opens: Nov 17

Films with Oscar hype

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 30, 2015, with the headline 'Familiar yet fresh'. Print Edition | Subscribe