So there you have it, the silly season of summer blockbusters is over and done with for another 12 months. We had some great summer hits, like Star Trek: Beyond, X-Men: Apocalypse, Steven Spielberg’s The BFG and long-gestating Pixar sequel Finding Dory. The summer also threw up some hidden gems like Money Monster, The Nice Guys and Everybody Wants Some!!
There’s barely time to take stock, however, as the rest of 2016 promises to be one of the busiest periods in recent cinematic memory – offering the opportunity to get an early glimpse at potential award-season contenders, make a return trip to J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World and the small matter of another story set in a galaxy far, far away.
One film to have flown somewhat under the radar is the New Zealand-set Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Releasing September 16th, the story follows a young boy named Ricky (played by Julian Dennison) who, after getting lost in the wilderness with his foster father (Sam Neill of Jurassic Park and Peaky Blinders fame), unwittingly becomes the subject of a manhunt. Written and directed by Taika Waititi, the film released to rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival this year and, having been favourably compared to the work of Wes Anderson, it could be one of the sleeper hits of the year.
Director Adam Wingard surprised everyone at San Diego Comic-Con this summer when he revealed that his upcoming horror feature The Woods is actually Blair Witch, a sequel to 1999 sleeper hit The Blair Witch Project. The original Blair Witch was hugely influential in introducing the found footage style of filmmaking which has become so prominent in horror cinema today and there is much intrigue surrounding this return to Black Hills Forest.
Michael Keaton has become something of a regular fixture during awards season, with last year’s Spotlight being his second Best Picture-winner in a row after Birdman in 2015. Director John Lee Hancock will be hoping he can make it three in a row when The Founder, which follows Ray Kroc (Keaton) as he turns McDonald’s from a lone Californian burger stand into worldwide multi-million dollar institution, releases in October.
It wouldn’t be winter without some Box Office behemoths and this year certainly won’t be lacking. Marvel will round off a crazy year of superhero films with Doctor Strange at the end of October, featuring Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular practitioner who specialises in more magic than medicine. before Warner Bros. drags us back into the world of Harry Potter in November with the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. While Harry and co. are absent, Eddie Redmayne is taking centre stage as Newt Scamander in a new screenplay written by J.K. Rowling herself and set in New York 70 years before the Potter films started.
Following hot on the heels of last years The Force Awakens, Star Wars spin-off Rogue One will take audiences back to before Episode IV and follow the Rebel Alliance’s attempts to steal the plans to the newly built Death Star, a task made all the more difficult by the return of James Earl Jones as Darth Vader.
So although the summer may be drawing to a close, we’re back on campus with inevitable bouts of stress, assignments, and panic to come. there’s comfort to be taken in the knowledge that we are about to enter the greatest period for movies so far this year. Roll on those winter months.
David Deignan | Film & TV editor