New Hollywood rule if you want to make bank at the multiplex: Bury the cute and cuddly. To get in the game this blockbuster season, fill your movies with pissed-off predators. Tom Hardy is already running cinemagoers down and Charlize Theron is kicking their ass in Mad Max: Fury Road. Supremely pissed off raptors will chomp you in Jurassic World. Ah-nuld in Terminator Genisys isn’t immune. Hell, even the animated emotions in Pixar’s Inside Out boast a rager called Anger, and the three yellow dudes in Minions serve an evil mastermind. What’s that, you say? You don’t like this new development? Expect the shitfaced talking bear in Ted 2 to curse your sorry ass. Go find a place to hide, movie wussies. Winter 2015 ain’t for you.
‘Entourage’ (June 4)
So maybe you haven’t been jonesing for a big-screen version of Entourage. But just hearing Jeremy Piven dismantle the pretensions of Hollywood as agent-turned-studio-chief Ari Gold equals toxic hilarity. “Ari leads through intimidation,” says Piven. Yeah. But he’s still a monster you can love.
‘Jurassic World’ (June 11)
Chris Pratt is guarding a different kind of galaxy in this fourth screen take on a park where genetically modified dinos run amok. “I don’t get many chances to be funny,” says Pratt, “what with raging raptors running around eating people.” No worries. The only thing that can kill the box office on this baby is a monster called sequel fatigue.
‘Inside Out’ (June 18)
It’s pixar. After Toy Story, Cars and Wall·E, those geek genies have well and truly earned our trust. That means we’ll buy into a movie about 11-year-old Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) trying to wrangle the animated emotions inside her head. Can Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler) ward off Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Anger (Lewis Black)? Probably. But bet on those bastards to put up a good fight in this emoji war of the worlds.
‘Minions’ (June 18)
In this prequel to Despicable Me, the tiny yellow creatures (Kevin, Stuart and Bob) serve the dastardly Overkills, Scarlet (Sandra Bullock) and Herb (Jon Hamm). If anyone can seize the winter cash crown from Jurassic World, it’s the minions. Place your bets.
‘Ted 2’ (June 25)
Seth Macfarlane proved he could rack up half a billion in 2012 by having a cute bear talk shit to Mark Wahlberg. This winter, he does it again by having Ted take on the law to legalise his marriage to his human GF (Jessica Barth), with Wahlberg providing the sperm. Too much? “What?!” says MacFarlane, who likes crossing the line.
‘Terminator Genisys’ (July 1)
He’s baa-ack. what more do you need to know? In this time-travel sequel, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-man is shown entering naked from the 1984 original. “Then they show me naked today,” says Ah-nuld. “Scary.” And tons of fun to watch the damage done by an indestructible hunk of motivated metal.
‘Ant-Man’ (July 16)
Another marvel hero, with Paul Rudd as the thief who shrinks himself to ant size and wears the ant suit designed by Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). It’s all done to take on Yellowjacket (Corey Stoll), who is armed with cannons. As Rudd told David Letterman, “I guess we all can’t wait to see how stupid this will be.”
‘Trainwreck’ (July 30)
She’s the hard-drinking, trash-talking party girl you’d never bring home to mum. If you’re a dude, she’ll do you and dump you – no apologies. Like the title of her provocative, pinwheeling, howlingly funny movie, she’s a trainwreck. And she’s irresistible. That’s because she – men’s-magazine reporter Amy Townsend – is played by Amy Schumer, a comic force of nature who’s making her big-screen debut as star and screenwriter. Judd Apatow does the directing, expertly channelling Schumer, as he does with Lena Dunham as exec producer on HBO’s Girls, and letting her talent blossom and bruise. You heard me. Schumer’s comedy leaves marks. That comes with tackling the stuff America’s sweethearts don’t talk about. Schumer’s been a stand-up since 2004, and her sharply satirical sketches are currently on view in Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer. A movie, of course, is a different animal – a beast, actually. Hollywood’s safe rom-com formula demands allegiance to a flag Schumer has no intention of saluting. Can she rip comedy a new one with Trainwreck and make us laugh till it hurts? Hell, yeah.
‘Fantastic Four’ (July 30)
Look, the last two ff Marvel movies sucked ass. Now director Josh Trank (Chronicle) is rebooting with a fresh coat of young hotties. What else? “Upgraded powers,” says Miles Teller (Whiplash), who plays Mr. Fantastic. The same applies to Michael B. Jordan’s Human Torch and Kate Mara’s Invisible Woman. And Jamie Bell truly rocks it as Thing. Seeing is believing.
‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation’ (August 6)
“I love it,” says Tom Cruise. He’s referring to doing his own stunts. And in the fifth chapter in his M:I series, he has a few doozies, including perilous motorcycle action and hanging off the side of a cargo plane in midflight. The plots don’t matter much – this one concerns Cruise’s Ethan Hunt taking down a shadow syndicate bent on . . . oh, who the hell cares? It’s the stunts that count.
‘Ricki and the Flash’ (August 13)
Meryl Streep may not be a guitar god, but she had a true deity (Neil Young) to teach her as prep for playing a mum of three who left her family to play in a rock cover band. Director Jonathan Demme trusted that Streep could shred an acoustic and belt Tom Petty and Lady Gaga. Like we ever had a doubt.
‘Irrational Man’ (August 20)
In the latest provocation from Woody Allen, an alcoholic philosophy prof, played by Joaquin Phoenix, joins a student (Emma Stone) in considering what Allen calls “the big questions”. The existential debate, recalling Crimes and Misdemeanors, pivots on rationalising violent extremes, even murder. Don’t knock a think piece in a stultifying winter.
‘Southpaw’ (August 20)
Jake Gyllenhaal looks like he can take on the world as Billy Hope, a left-handed boxer fighting his worst tendencies to win custody of his daughter. Gyllenhaal says he stuck to a “strict regimen” to muscle up for the role. It’s a stark contrast to the kilos he dropped to play the spookily intense news cameraman in Nightcrawler. He wasn’t nominated for an Oscar for that great performance. Maybe Southpaw can rectify that injustice.
‘Vacation’ (August 20)
Confession: i’m a sucker for National Lampoon comedies that push the limit. So Vacation, with Ed Helms as Rusty Griswold, the son of Clark (Chevy Chase), taking his own family to Walley World had me at “Hello”. Bring on the bad taste.