Cinema Remains a Strong Ticket in an Uncertain World

14/07/2016 11:42 | Updated 14 July 2016


No matter how crazy the outside world might seem to be, the sanctity of the cinema always provides a refuge. It has been much needed this past month and I expect it will continue to be for the foreseeable future. It helps that the content on screen has been strong this year too, and what initially seemed like a tricky year admissions wise, has so far offered pleasant surprises at regular intervals.

After Star Wars: The Force Awakens continued to break records into the first couple of weeks of 2016, The Revenant became the big hit from awards season, but smaller titles like Room, Spotlight and The Big Short still managed to get a look-in. Deadpool laid an unexpected marker for the rest of the year's superhero films and the much-vaunted big superhero showdown between Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice and Captain America: Civil War, saw neither of them able to overtake the irreverent Ryan Reynolds vehicle. To date, only £300k separated the big DC Comics and Marvel titles.

The technical marvel of The Jungle Book swooped in and comfortably outperformed all three of them, and it's still the biggest film of the year to date. Family films have had an exceptionally strong year so far, with Zootropolis being the standout title, and it's only going to get bigger with The BFG and Finding Dory out in the next couple of weeks.

The second half of last year saw almost six million more admissions than the first half, and we're expecting an equally strong, if not better finish to 2016. August 2015 was the quietest August since the turn of the century but this August should see no such problems. Finding Dory broke the record for the biggest opening by an animated film of all time in the US and when it's released in the UK on Friday 29 July, it should easily be one of the biggest films of the year here too. On a great weekend for cinema, Matt Damon also makes a return as Jason Bourne.

We'll find out in August whether the Suicide Squad can live up to having three of the best trailers of the last year but whatever happens, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn looks to be one of the best pieces of casting of any of the summer blockbusters. David Brent: Life on the Road will be hoping to repeat Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie's successful transition from small to the biggest screen.

September is usually the quietest month of the year for cinema admissions but this time a genuine blockbusting comedy returns. The previous Bridget Jones films have grossed almost £80m between them and Bridget Jones's Baby sees a pregnant Renee Zellweger trying to determine whether the father of her child is Colin Firth or Patrick Dempsey. It could be huge (the film, not the baby). A star-studded The Magnificent Seven also sees Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt take on 1960's classic Western.

A genuine literary phenomenon should dominate October as the big screen adaptation of The Girl on the Train hits the big screen. Over two million copies of the book have been sold in the UK and I don't expect too many fans to mind that the action has shifted from South East England to upstate New York. Southern Rail was apparently too busy to comment. October also sees a host of awards hopefuls hit the screen, with two of the best British directors leading the charge. Andrea Arnold's American Honey won the Grand Jury prize at Cannes, losing out on the Palme d'Or to Ken Loach's I, Daniel Blake. Both are out on consecutive weekends in mid-October.

November arguably features two of the most intriguing titles of the year. Ang Lee struck critical and commercial gold with his last film, Life of Pi, and if Sony Pictures is to be believed, his latest, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, is set to be another technical and emotional marvel. The plan is to screen it in a 120fps and according to early reports, the footage is genuinely groundbreaking. Out on the same day is Arrival, the latest from Denis Villeneuve, director of Prisoners and Sicario. Amy Adams stars as an expert linguist who is hired to determine whether alien crafts that have landed around the world come in peace. Those two are likely to take the plaudits from the critics but in terms of box office, expect J.K. Rowling's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to sweep all before it.

Star Wars dominated last Christmas, and Star Wars is likely to dominate this Christmas (and Christmas 2017), as the first in the Anthology series, Rogue One, sees Felicity Jones lead the team that steals the plans to the Death Star, enabling Luke Skywalker to destroy it in A New Hope. It looks like it will more than satisfy the many fans of the Star Wars universe and after approximately 13m people in the UK went to see The Force Awakens, it's the hot favourite to be the biggest film of the year. It won't have it all its own way, though. Disney releases the charming looking animation, Moana, and Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence join forces in Passengers, a blockbuster sci-fi from the director of The Imitation Game, Morten Tyldum. Christmas is always one of the busiest times of the year for cinema, but this one could well be the busiest for a while. Where cinema is concerned, the second half of the year is very much one to look forward to.