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Blockbusters have become the dominant form of life in cinemas, with major event movies feeling like they are now released every couple of weeks. This can have a tiring effect on audiences who can only take onboard so many explosions and CGI robots, which results in a more than a fair few major films bombing every year.

Recent years have seen the big budget likes of Battleship and Fantastic Four sink without trace because of audience apathy towards them, and this problem is only going to get worse if every film is trying to go bigger and louder. 2016 has a large line-up of films people are buzzing over – Rogue One, Suicide Squad, Captain America: Civil War – and a selection of movies they’re really not; in some cases, most people probably forgot these movies even exist.

From sequels to successful movies that don’t need one to studios desperately attempting to kickstart a franchise that has nobody wants, all the signs point to this group of upcoming blockbusters failing to find the audiences they need.

There’s still room for some of them to emerge from the haze of weak early buzz, but the rest will be haunting a supermarket bargain bin this time next year.

10. Alice Through The Looking Glass

Johnny Depp has been shamefully lazy the last few years, churning out sub-par Pirates Of The Caribbean sequels or Tim Burton movies for large cheques, and audiences have finally tired of him. His recent payday movies like Mordecai, The Lone Ranger and Transcendence have all flopped, and his decent turn in Black Mass has done little to restore faith in him.

Instead of reinventing himself again he’s going back for more punishment, so he’ll be reprising the role of The Mad Hatter in Alice Through The Looking Glass. The Tim Burton movie was – somehow – one of the most successful movies ever, so it’s a logical choice, but it’s doubtful anyone is really up for another round of Depp in white face paint and doing silly accents. The original was relentlessly glum and joyless too, so it won’t even be a fun world to revisit.

The only bright spot is that James Bobin (The Muppets, Flight Of The Conchords) is directing instead of Burton, so he might be able to breathe some life into it; he’s got a hell of an uphill battle, though.

9. Warcraft
Universal Pictures

Making a great movie out of a videogame has proven a nearly impossible task for Hollywood, and little progress has been made since the original Mortal Kombat. They keep trying, bless them, yet the results are always the same. The latest swing of the bat is Warcraft, which will take the expanse world of the online multiplayer game and condense its dense mythology into a stodgy looking Lord Of The Rings clone.

The game obviously has a large inbuilt fanbase and a great director in the form of Duncan Jones, but the first trailer looked like an uneasy mix of Avatar and every other fantasy movie ever, and nobody was impressed. The characters and relationships don’t look captivating in the least, and the mix of real and CG characters isn’t the seamless join the filmmakers would like; even the battle sequences scenes look dull.

Anticipation for it has cooled considerably since people got a proper look at it, and unless the marketing turns that around the odds of Warcraft being a franchise launcher (it’s optimistically subtitled “The Beginning”) are a little bleak.

8. Gods Of Egypt
Summit Entertainment

When the first trailer for Gods Of Egypt arrived it looked like an elaborate parody of fantasy movies; full of stupid dialogue, hammy overacting and crammed with dodgy CGI. Turns out it’s a real film, and the trailer genuinely was supposed to get people excited; this was warning sign number one.

Then it drew ire for the predominantly white cast – including Gerard Butler and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau – despite taking place in Ancient Egypt. The studio didn’t really have a good defence for this, so they and director Alex Proyas came out and apologised, promising to do better in future. This backlash was another mark against the movie, and despite later trailers trying to get people hyped the excitement levels for it are somewhere near zero.

Maybe people will embrace the camp silliness of Gods Of Egypt when it comes out and it will surprise everyone by being a big 300 style success. The outlook isn’t so hot though.

7. Central Intelligence
Warner Bros.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a consistently annoying film star; he’s got the talent and charisma to do great things but often chooses to star in the most obvious crap. Case in point is Central Intelligence, which “hilariously” teams him up with Kevin Hart, which is funny because Johnson is big and Hart is small. Judging by the marketing that’s the main gag and it gets tired just sitting through the trailer.

Hart’s shrieking, bug-eyed comedy shtick has already grown stale and Central Intelligence will do nothing to modify this formula. While there’s always room for a well-crafted buddy comedy, Central Intelligence is aimed squarely at the lowest common dominator and just barely scraping by on that level.

Maybe audiences will embrace it because of the team-up alone, but if there’s any excitement for the movie in the air it’s being kept quiet.

6. London Has Fallen

Olympus Has Fallen was the movie that helped heal the world in 2013 when A Good Day To Die Hard came along and tried to destroy the legacy of that series. Olympus was an enjoyable “Die Hard in the White House” antidote, and though it did nothing new it had enough action and silly one-liners to keep people entertained.

But why there needs to be a sequel – one that removes the central gimmick – is a bit of a puzzle. Gerard Butler’s hero was too generic and stock to build a series around, and the supporting players weren’t all the captivating either. The plot, this time, features a terrorist blowing up world leaders in

London, and if he doesn’t get his hands on the American President he’ll blow up other countries too.
The trailer makes it look like a passable evening’s entertainment but it lacks a good central hook and where the original had an interesting setting, London Has Fallen looks like a big budget version of a dodgy episode of 24.

5. The Legend Of Tarzan
Warner Bros.

Tarzan is a story that’s been well milked over the years, and it doesn’t feel like anybody is yearning for a chance to revisit the tale and see it smeared in CGI. Yet that is the only innovation Warner Bros. is bringing to the legend, where Alexander SkarggĂ„rd’s abs will be swinging around ropes, punching computer-generated animals and generally not having much in the way of charisma.

Christoph Waltz is playing yet another villain – Hollywood really has to find other roles for the actor to play – and Samuel L. Jackson and Margot Robbie round out the cast. While it’s nice to see a blockbuster with no alien armies or giant robots, seeing one that slaps a glossy coat of paint on a well-worn premise isn’t much better either.

The Legend Of Tarzan looks like Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong in that aims to recapture the feel of past movies, which just comes across as phony with modern technology. This leaves a movie that’s too old-fashioned for modern audiences, and too modern for people who like old style adventures; all that, and it just doesn’t look very good.

4. Now You See Me: The Second Act

Hey, you remember that movie Now You See Me right? The one with Jesse Eisenberg being an insufferably smug git and Mark Ruffalo was the detective chasing him and his band of magicians? It was the movie that kept talking about how amazing magic is, and then executed most of the magic acts with obvious CGI. It wasn’t very good, but somehow was successful enough to get a sequel greenlit; now that’s an impressive trick.

Nearly all the cast will return, with newcomer Daniel Radcliffe playing the son of Michael Caine’s character, who is seeking revenge for the events of the original. Hopefully, the sequel will remind the audience what those events were since they probably forgot what happened ten minutes after they left the cinema.

The Second Act is a prime example of a something being produced because the original was a hit, and not because there’s a new story to tell. The cast obviously enjoyed the experience enough to return, but time will tell if audiences feel the same way.

3. Independence Day: Resurgence
20th Century Fox

While Independence Day gives a warm, nostalgic glow to a certain generation, the harsh truth must be faced; it’s not great. It had fun setpieces and likable characters, but it’s achingly hollow and dumb too. Cinema has moved on a lot since 1996, so Resurgence has a lot of work to do to get new audience members excited and – with the lack of Will Smith – old audience members too.

Big Will decided to sit the sequel out since the studio didn’t want to go bankrupt paying his salary, but, at least, Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman are back. The sequel doesn’t look to be offering much besides everything being “bigger”, and returning director Roland Emmerich hasn’t been in good form the last decade or so (2012, White House Down). The casting of butter sandwich Liam Hemsworth as the new hero doesn’t bode well either, since he’s usually the most forgettable thing about all of his movies.

Perhaps Emmerich has some surprises up his sleeve and Resurgence will prove to be a great hit; if not, Will Smith will be feeling mighty smug when he looks at the weekend box-office grosses.

2. Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice
Warner Bros. Pictures

Batman V Superman is one of the most talked about movies ever; but not in the way Warner Bros. would like. The reaction so far has been fairly lukewarm; people didn’t go crazy for Man Of Steel (or Zach Snyder) and Dawn Of Justice’s kitchen sink approach (the Batman/Superman fight, Wonder Woman, Doomsday, setting up the Justice League etc) already has people exhausted at the thought of sitting through it.

The studio obviously has a lot riding on the movie’s success, since it will set up their cinematic universe. To that end they’ve apparently spent around $400 million on the production, making it one of the most expensive movies ever made; that’s a scary figure, and if it underperforms than DC’s plans could be in serious trouble. If it’s a success the profit margin will be razor-thin, and negative word or mouth could seriously impact overall box office.

While people seem genuinely excited for Suicide Squid – since it offers something different from the typical superhero fare – the buzz for Dawn Of Justice feels muted and cautious in comparison, and that’s something DC can’t afford; literally.

1. The Huntsman: Winter’s War
Universal Pictures

Who exactly is this movie for? Did anyone grow such an attachment to Chris Hemsworth’s Huntsman they’d rush out to see a prequel? Does anyone want to see a Snow White movie without Snow White in it? The answer is no, of course not; yet they made The Huntsman: Winter’s War regardless.

The movie will fill in essential backstory (?) about the rivalry between evil sisters Emily Blunt and Charlize Theron, and Hemsworth will be called upon again to swing an ax, but there won’t much suspense since the outcome is already obvious. Winter’s War had a brief period of hope where it was going to be directed by Frank Darabont, but when he left any chance of it being something more than a generic fantasy adventure was lost.

Hemsworth hasn’t had much luck in leading man roles outside of Thor – evidenced by Blackhat and In The Heart Of The Sea – and the standard reaction people have to see the trailer is “What, they made a sequel?!” The movie does have a pretty great cast, but that probably won’t help it much overall.

Can you think of any other forthcoming blockbusters that could turn out to be disastrous? Share your choices in the comments below.


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