With 2018 now in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward to what’s coming to audiences by way of feature releases in 2019. Thanks to a number of media and theater-adjacent companies we have a decent idea of what people are looking forward to.
While every news site has published their own lists of films its staff is anxious to see, a few have been released based on survey results and they show a lot of commonalities, both in specific titles and rationales. Let’s take a look at what Atom Tickets, Fandango and IMDb have to tell us about what has gotten people’s attention among the upcoming releases.
- Avengers: Endgame (Atom #1, IMDb #2, Fandango #1)
- Captain Marvel (Atom #2, IMDb #1, Fandango #2)
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (Atom #3, Fandango #4)
- Toy Story 4 (Atom #4, Fandango #5)
- The Lion King (Atom #5, Fandango #7)
- Star Wars: Episode IX (Atom #6, Fandango #3)
- Aladdin (Atom #7, IMDb #9, Fandango #8)
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix (Atom #8, IMDb #3,
- Glass (Atom #9, IMDb #7, Fandango #6)
- Jumanji 2 (Atom #10)
- Hellboy (IMDb #10)
- Joker (IMDB #8, Fandango #10)
- It: Chapter Two (IMDb #6)
- Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (IMDb #4)
- Dumbo (Fandango #9)
So what do all those titles and their rankings tell us?
Super Heroes Continue To Be Big Draws
Six movies out of the 15 spread across the three lists feature comic book characters, with Marvel’s Avengers and Captain Marvel releases appearing at or new the top of them all along with the Spider-Man sequel produced in partnership with Sony Pictures. Marvel is also the source for the latest X-Men installment, one of two coming out this year that have been repeatedly pushed down the release calendar by Fox for various reasons. Add to that the new Hellboy movie with David Harbour in the title role and the Joker solo feature and you have lots of comics-based IP in theaters, not to mention the other films not on this list. Given that “critics finally embrace super hero movies” was one of the dominant themes coming out of 2018 and this isn’t at all surprising.
Sequels and Remakes Oh My!
With the exception of Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time in Hollywood on IMDb’s list, everything here is either a sequel or remake of an earlier film. I’m including in that category the Joker movie since the character is so well known even if this is a new take independent of previous film incarnations. So studios aren’t going out on many limbs, at least not with the movies that have already begun their hype cycles, instead choosing to remain firmly on familiar ground in an effort to best appeal to the audience that isn’t interested in taking risks with their money and time. Notably, all three non-franchise releases from Disney on the lists are remakes of classic animated features.
Disney Continues to Dominate
Of the 15 films that make up the three lists, Disney is the force behind eight of them. Those releases include not just those remakes but also new installments in the franchises they manage including Star Wars and Marvel. In 2018 Disney accounted for one quarter of total box office receipts and it’s hoping to continue gaining more and more market share even as it enters the year it’s expected to launch its own streaming subscription service. That service will be filled with similar material related to Star Wars, Marvel and other properties, including sequels or remakes of its back catalog.
Earned Media Will Help All These Films
Every title on the list comes with the kind of big press hooks that will ensure whatever paid marketing is done the main job of raising audience awareness and keeping appetites stoked will be done through the press. Cover stories, feature profiles and more have already come out about many of them and will continue to be placed by press teams regularly to offer first look photos, new interviews with the talent involved and more. Corporate synergies will also be exploited to make sure casts enjoy cozy environments on the talk shows airing on networks owned by the same companies producing the films, helping to garner even more attention and earn even more secondary media coverage.
It’s surprising to see none of the movies planned by the streaming behemoth on any of the three lists, except it’s actually not. Atom, IMDb and Fandango are all tied closely to the theatrical industry, especially through ticket sales, so not seeing upcoming films from Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh and others is largely to be expected. But it’s likely these films will receive significant marketing pushes as their release nears. It’s also possible Netflix pulls out another period like 2018’s “Summer Of Love” where it released a number of romantic comedies and completely dominated the cultural conversation for months.
As usual, how all this turns out remains to be seen. Some of these titles will go on to be massive successes and some will fall by the wayside. But right now, these are the movies people have said they’re willing to check out, which should make studio publicity teams feel pretty good.