Like it or not, it’s wall-to-wall superheroes, sequels and reboots in 2015, and for years to come. Dramas, indies and foreign films will sneak into the mix, but if the theater nearest you is a multiplex, your best bet is to try to pick and choose wisely among whatever the major studios are selling.
You never know: Perhaps "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2" (Nov. 20) will close the fizzling franchise with a bang while "The Divergent Series: Insurgent" (March 20) will step up its game to fill the void. Might Paul Rudd make a good "Ant-Man" (July 17)?
Will we buy Michael B. Jordan (replacing Chris Evans) as Johnny Storm in "The Fantastic Four" (Aug. 7)? Could a reboot of a popular National Lampoon comedy franchise, "Vacation" (Oct. 9), actually make us laugh?
Here’s a look at what’s on the horizon. (Release dates are subject to change.
THE BIG RELEASES
» "Fifty Shades of Grey" (Feb. 13): The soft-core bondage-porn novel by E.L. James was a runaway best-seller, but how on Earth will they make a movie out of it? Dakota Johnson plays literature student Anastasia Steele; Jamie Dornan plays wealthy control freak Christian Grey. Whether it’s a sensation or a laughingstock, you know you want to see it.
» "Avengers: Age of Ultron" (May 1):Deeply invested fans may care about the plot (James Spader is the voice of an artificial intelligence called Ultron), but the rest of us will show up for the crackling chemistry between Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth and Robert Downey Jr. New additions include Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff.
» "Mad Max: Fury Road" (May 15): Few actors seem better suited than the ultra-intense Tom Hardy to step into the iconic Mel Gibson role of Mad Max. He’s teaming up with the original writer-director, George Miller, though the question remains: Will this be in the vein of the classic "The Road Warrior," or more like the cheese ball "Beyond Thunderdome"?
» "Jurassic World" (June 12): The long-awaited sequel to Steven Spielberg’s franchise stars new Hollywood darling Chris Pratt and is directed by Colin Trevorrow (the 2012 gem "Safety Not Guaranteed"). Expectations are high — what, did everyone forget "Jurassic Park III"? — and the box office surely will be, too.
» "Spectre" (Nov. 6): The 24th Bond film, starring Daniel Craig as 007, was recently announced with great fanfare at Pinewood Studios in England. No plot has been revealed, but check out the cast: Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes, Dave Bautista (a scene-stealer in "Guardians of the Galaxy") and Lea Seydoux, star of the controversial lesbian film "Blue Is the Warmest Color." Sam Mendes returns to direct.
» "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" (Dec. 18): Everyone who’s still alive from the original cast, current stars like Adam Driver and Lupita Nyong’o, fanboy favorite J.J. Abrams in the director’s chair — this is the movie event of the year even for casual fans. Expect all-day marathons, total media saturation and Internet spoilers.
» "Joy" (Dec. 25): Well, New Yorkers who live on Long Island, here’s your movie: Jennifer Lawrence plays Joy Mangano, the local housewife who became the wildly successful inventor of gizmos like the Miracle Mop. David O. Russell, who already cast Lawrence as a Long Island housewife in "American Hustle," is the director. Note the Christmas Day release, which suggests that 20th Century Fox has high hopes.
Every year brings a few intriguing question marks. "Tomorrowland" (May 22), a film based on the Disney attraction and starring George Clooney, sounds fantastic — but no one knows the plot. "Straight Outta Compton" (Aug. 14) dares to tell the story of the iconic gangsta-rap group N.W.A with a cast of mostly young unknowns. And "The Peanuts Movie" (Nov. 6), the first Peanuts feature film in 35 years, will be rendered in 3-D computer animation rather than the ink and paint we remember from the beloved television specials.
THE NEESON EFFECT
Fans of Liam Neeson, rejoice! The 62-year-old actor will double-punch us with two action flicks. First comes "Taken 3" (Jan. 9), his latest vehicle about a CIA agent with a particular set of skills. Then comes "Run All Night" (April 17), about an aging hit man forced to turn against his boss. Other older stars getting into the action game: Colin Firth as a shadowy operative in "Kingsman: The Secret Service" (Feb. 13) and Sean Penn as a fugitive spy in "The Gunman" (March 2).
Each year brings at least a few, right? Among them are "Pitch Perfect 2" (May 15), the new a-cappella-themed comedy starring the charming Anna Kendrick; "Ted 2" (June 26), Seth MacFarlane’s follow-up to his 2010 hit about a debauched teddy bear; "Magic Mike XXL" (July 1), which reunites Channing Tatum as a male stripper with director Steven Soderbergh; and "London Has Fallen" (Oct. 2), with Gerard Butler reprising his role from 2013’s enjoyably brainless action flick "Olympus Has Fallen."
THE BEST OF THE REST
Or so we hope. Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper might make magic again in what looks like a straight-ahead romantic drama, "Serena" (March 27). Neill Blomkamp, the inventive and politically minded director of "District 9" and "Elysium," delivers a film about a sentient robot, "Chappie" (March 6). Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays that guy who strode a tightrope between the Twin Towers in "The Walk" (Oct. 2). Will Ferrell meets Kevin Hart in the prison-themed comedy "Get Hard" (March 27). And you can’t say you’re not curious about a remake of the 1991 cult classic "Point Break" (July 31).
» Jan. 11: Golden Globes (NBC)
» Jan. 15: Academy Award nominations announced
» Jan. 25: SAG Awards (TNT, TBS)
» Feb. 21: Independent Spirit Awards (IFC)
» Feb. 22: Academy Awards (ABC)
» April 12: MTV Movie Awards