In case you haven’t noticed, 2015 is already kind of a big deal.
Hollywood aims to have one of its biggest years ever, with a slate that all but ensures the industry will be swimming in Scrooge McDuck-scale money.
From big-budget sequels like Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Avengers: Age of Ultron to original tentpoles like Pixar’s Inside Out and Disney's Tomorrowland, here’s a breakdown – in order of release date -- of some of the films you should line up to buy tickets for.
Release date: April 10
Why it’s must-see: Have you seen the trailer?! Cars parachute out of planes!
The seventh visit with the Fast and the Furious gang promises to be the biggest one yet, with Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, the late Paul Walker and the rest of the crew fighting a vengeful Ian Shaw (Jason Statham) with fast cars and explosive stunts. Kurt Russell joins the cast, and this movie can’t get into our eyes soon enough.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Release date: May 1
Why it’s must-see: Joss Whedon continues the adventures of Marvel’s dysfunctional superhero team, and this time a visit from the creepy, sentient robot Ultron threatens to shake Earth’s Mightiest to their core. The film promises to be the biggest Marvel outing yet, with lots of international action and Hulkbuster fighting. As exciting as the set pieces will be, Whedon insists that Age of Ultron’s real draw will be the emotional fallout from all the kick-punching. Does that mean one – or more – of our favorite heroes could die by the end of the movie?
Mad Max: Fury Road
Release date: May 15
Why it’s must-see: If you need more convincing than the trailer below, then you’re some kind of wrong person.
Release date: May 22
Why it’s must-see: Brad Bird’s follow-up to his live-action debut, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, finds George Clooney as a reclusive inventor who may hold the key to unlocking the secrets of Disney’s titular theme park attraction. Given Bird’s reputation, Tomorrowland stands to deliver some inventive, character-driven sci-fi. Aside from a short, but effective, teaser, Disney has kept the top-secret film (co-written by Damon Lindelof) under wraps. But we know one thing: It has jet packs, which is never a bad thing.
Release date: June 12
Why it’s must-see: Chris Pratt, Raptor Whisperer.
The final shot of the recently released teaser shows the Guardians of the Galaxy star riding a motorcycle while flanked by a posse of running raptors. That’s just one , Pixof many inspired ideas in store for audiences in this fourth installment of the venerable franchise.
Director Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) sets the dinosaur mayhem in a fully functional theme park – complete with gyro-ball tours and kayaking trips danger-close to the beasts. Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard lead the cast of potential meals, who find themselves running and screaming when a new, genetically engineered hybrid dino -- one capable of camouflage – gets loose.
Release date: June 19
Why it’s must-see: Pixar’s newest film feature’s one of the studio’s most inventive premises: Inside Out centers on a young girl, Riley -- and the personification of her emotions (voiced by Amy Poehler, Bill Hader and others) – as she struggles to adjust to her family’s move to San Francisco. Joy has to work overtime to help Riley deal with this life-changing event, and early footage hints that Pixar has another creative success on its hands.
Release date: July 17
Why it’s must-see: Edgar Wright’s much-publicized exit from the film didn’t do much for fans’ blood pressures, but director Peyton Reed seems to have put Marvel’s follow-up to Age of Ultron back on solid ground.
Paul Rudd stars as Scott Lang, a petty thief who gets his hands on Hank Pym’s (Michael Douglas) suit, which turns him into one of the MCU’s smallest, but strongest, heroes. The film is expected to have an impressive amount of pint-sized action, as Lang battles villain Yellowjacket in ways that all but ensure Marvel’s continued reign at the box office.
Release date: Aug. 7
Why it’s must-see: We’re less than a year out and, aside from some leaked images, no one has seen what Chronicle’s Josh Trank has in store for Marvel’s First Family.
While some fans are worried that strategy spells doom for the franchise reboot, we give Trank the benefit of the doubt. The new film, which stars Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Bell, completely rewrites the heroes’ origins – treating their superpowers more like burdens than gifts – in an attempt to deliver a gritty, grounded take on Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, the Human Torch and The Thing. Can Trank do for Fantastic Four what he did for found-footage superheroes? Fox certainly hopes so; the studio is already planning a sequel and a rumored team-up with the X-Men.
Release date: Oct. 16
Why it’s must-see: Guillermo del Toro trades in his Pacific Rim kaiju for something even scarier: a haunted house. The filmmaker’s much-anticipated thriller, set in the 19th century, stars Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) as a troubled writer who discovers husband Tom Hiddelston at the center of truly frightening secrets of the “bump-in-the-night” variety. Fans of del Toro are eager to see his unique and visually exciting take on the haunted house genre.
Release date: Nov. 6
Why it’s must-see: Thanks to the Sony hackers, most of the plot of Bond’s 24th mission has leaked. While we won’t spoil it here, what we can tell you is that Daniel Craig’s 007 finds himself on the hunt for the titular bad guys, possibly led by Christoph Waltz’ character – who may or may not be Bond’s arch-nemesis Blofeld.
Spectre promises to provide connective tissue surrounding the events of Craig’s previous Bond outings, while sending the venerable spy to Rome for the first time. The film is rumored to be one of the most expensive ever made – clocking in at more than $300 million. Despite the negative response to the leaked script, let’s hope Spectre can reach Skyfall-level highs with audiences.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
Release date: Nov. 20
Why it’s must-see: Fans disappointed by the incomplete nature of Part 1 are promised a very satisfying, blockbuster-sized conclusion to the popular YA series.
Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) aims to permanently put an end to President Snow and his white rose delivery service, just as soon as she figures out what to do with a brainwashed, murderous Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). While fans of the books already know how the story ends, that won’t stop them from paying tribute (pun so intended) at the box office.
The Good Dinosaur
Release date: Nov. 25
Why it’s must-see: Pixar’s second film of 2015, The Good Dinosaur is set in a world where dinosaurs never went extinct. The movie centers on dinosaur Arlo and his human friend, with their adventures promising a much more heartwarming – and less carnivorous – outing than that of Jurassic World. But two movies about dinosaurs -- in one year -- is never a bad thing.
The Hateful Eight
Release date: December
Why it’s must-see: Quentin Tarantino’s follow-up to the Oscar-winning Django Unchained is another bloody Western. However, this film almost never happened.
A leaked script in 2014 sent Tarantino off the handle, with the director vowing to never make the film. Thankfully, he changed his mind, and now fans get to see Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Channing Tatum and Bruce Dern trapped inside a remote saloon during a snowstorm. Lots of great dialogue and gunfire will ensue.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Release date: Dec. 18
Why it’s must-see: The Star Wars part pretty much sums it up.
Thousands of fans cried out with joy upon the recent release of the film’s first trailer, which teased X-Wings and the Millennium Falcon getting in on the action 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi. Newcomers Adam Driver, Oscar Issac and John Boyega star opposite Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher in this first chapter of a new trilogy from J.J. Abrams.
Mission: Impossible 5
Release date: Dec. 25
Why it’s must-see: Only Tom Cruise would have the balls to take on The Force in its second weekend. This time, Ethan Hunt has his mission is cut out for him – facing off against Star Wars and following up Ghost Protocol, the biggest movie in the Mission series.
Cruise’s Jack Reacher director Christopher McQuarrie is at the helm of this fifth installment, which has managed to keep its plot details firmly filed under ‘Top Secret.” Hunt’s latest finds Cruise forced to hang onto the side of very large aircraft – mid-flight – while presumably on his way to stop the bad guys from ending the world. Simon Pegg returns in the role of tech guru Benji as well, in what promises to be one of the biggest missions yet.