Matt Bean at the NCM Media Networks Upfront Event

Experts are calling 2014-2015 movie season the perfect storm, and Matt Bean (@MattBean1), editor of Entertainment Weekly, gave NCM’s The Bigger Picture upfront event audience an exclusive look at the potential blockbusters coming to a theater near you:

“Some of the best bets on the big screen next year are household names by now, even if they’re the last people you’d actually want in your home. Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk and dozens more spandex-clad super heroes and villains arrive in theaters in May with Avengers: Age of Ultron. Who’s the bad guy this time? James Spader. Well, an evil, sentient robot called Ultron voiced by Spader, anyway, but you get the point. Epic battles, incredible explosions, pithy one-liners, that kind of thing. Ultron’s gonna be huge.”

“Another blockbuster: Fast & Furious 7, which hit pause on production after the sudden and tragic death of series star Paul Walker last November. After taking several months to regroup, director James Wan went back into production last month – and even hired Walker’s surviving brothers to serve as body doubles in some scenes. It’s a nice gesture, and Fast 7 is set to open in April.

Some sequels take much, much longer to reach theaters. Dumb and Dumber To – that’s spelled just T-O, by the way, get it? – hits theaters this November exactly 20 years after the original. Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey are back as Harry and Lloyd, and this time they’re on a quest to find one of their long-lost children in hopes of scoring a new kidney. Classy guys.

What is it about road trips in 2015? Mad Max: Fury Road, due next May, is the fourth installment in the dystopian action series and the first since Beyond Thunderdome in 1985. This time, Tom Hardy steps in for Mel Gibson as our hero, Max, and Charlize Theron plays a baddie named Imperator Furiosa, shaved head and all. I’ve seen some previews — and it’s big.

Speaking of big, next June we head back to dino-land with Jurassic World, starring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard as potential T-Rex kibble. You’d think after this long someone would have figured out that dinosaurs just don’t make great pets, but they’re a heckuva lot more entertaining to watch on a rampage than genetically engineered goldfish I suppose.

Another four-part epic returns the screen in November with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, the first half of the two-part finale of Katniss Everdeen’s epic struggle against the oppressive regime in the Capitol. This time, she’s out for vengeance.

And in December, Bilbo and the dwarves prepare for the Battle of the Five Armies in the final installment of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy while security guard Ben Stiller heads to London for a third fateful Night at the Museum:  Secret of the Tomb.

Starting the year off with a bang (or three) is Liam Neeson. The actor goes on the chase again for Taken 3 and word is it’s not someone, but something, that’s been swiped this time around. Also next year, the yellow Minions get a movie of their own, as villain-turned-softie Gru relinquishes his Despicable Me leading-man status.

Not every big Hollywood film is a sequel – some are adaptations of best-selling hits. This October, David Fincher brings former EW writer Gillian Flynn’s twisty novel Gone Girl to the screen with Ben Affleck as the suburban hubby who may or may not have had a hand in his wife’s mysterious disappearance. Angelina Jolie goes behind the camera for this December’s adaptation of the nonfiction best-seller Unbroken, about an Olympic runner who was taken prisoner by Japanese forces during World War II. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, director Sam Taylor-Johnson brings the steamy Fifty Shades of Grey to the screen with newcomers Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as the S&M-fancying couple from EL James’ megahit novels. And finally, there’s Ridley Scott’s Exodus, based on the best-selling book of all time and starring Christian Bale as Moses. Expect audiences to part the red carpet to see that one this Christmas.

Of course, Hollywood always brings us a handful of truly original stories – non-franchise films such as Gravity that truly take flight. This year’s contender is Interstellar, which is director Christopher Nolan’s first film since wrapping up his Dark Knight trilogy. Nolan is notoriously secretive about his productions so we don’t know a lot about this one, except that it’s set in the future, involves travel via wormhole to other dimensions, and stars Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, and Anne Hathaway. Also, given that Nolan is the man who gave us Memento and Inception, it promises to be a mind-bender of the highest order.

It’s clear that 2015 is shaping up to be an exciting year at the movies. While we can’t yet say who will win at the box office, I do have one prediction that you can take to the bank: By this time next year, your kids will still be singing the soundtrack to Frozen.”



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