How does cinema follow a year like 2015? Three of the top 10 grossing films of all time in the UK were released within a seven month period and two of them became only the third and fourth films in history to cross the £90m mark. Add to that two of the biggest animated titles of all time, and it's clear that 2016 has a tough act to follow. There's no need to panic though, 2016 has arguably the widest selection of blockbusters ever and the family slate is a potential record-breaker.
The year has hit the ground running as Star Wars: The Force Awakens continues its incredible performance into 2016, becoming the biggest film of all time in the UK. It faces competition from a typically excellent awards season, featuring new films from Quentin Tarantino (The Hateful Eight), Alejandro González Iñárritu (The Revenant) and Adam McKay (The Big Short). Lenny Abrahamson's Room has been dubbed an instant classic by several in the DCM office and the consummate Spotlight has been hoovering up early awards Stateside.
February sees some of the brightest comic talents in the world return. Ben Stiller once again unleashes Magnum and Blue Steel as Derek Zoolander continues to try to find out whether there is more to life than being really, really good looking and Sacha Baron Cohen unleashes his latest comic creation in the riotous Grimsby.
Two of the world's best filmmakers, the Coen brothers, return in early March with Hail, Caesar, a 50s set comedy-drama that features everyone you'd expect to be in a Coen film and a few new faces too (Channing Tatum and Ralph Fiennes). Summer blockbusters are getting earlier each year and the first in 2016 is out at the end of March. Warner Bros have a lot riding on Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice, as DC Comics starts its bid to rival the titans of Marvel, and they're throwing everything at it.
April has a potential sleeper hit in Eddie The Eagle, about the infamous ski-jumper, and early buzz suggests it's a genuine crowdpleaser. Captain America: Civil War will be vying for the title of 2016's biggest comic book movie and the Captain has got some serious help from Iron Man, Ant-Man, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch and Spider-Man. Arguably 2016's stand-out superhero film though is a good deal smaller. Midnight Special is the latest from US indie director Jeff Nichols (Mud, Take Shelter) and stars Michael Shannon, Kirsten Dunst and Adam Driver in the tale of a father and son who go on the run after learning the son possesses special powers.
One of the most intense cinemagoing experiences of 2016 arrives in May with Jeremy Saulnier's Green Room, about a punk band trapped in a neo-nazi music venue. I saw it at the London Film Festival in October and there were moments where the tension was so high, I thought I might be sick.
Shane Black is something of an 80s legend, having written Predator and The Last Boy Scout, and he joined the directing big league with Iron Man 3. Satisfyingly he's returning to the kind of sharp, violent thrillers with which he made his name and The Nice Guys is shaping up to be one of the standout films of Q2. Later in June, Independence Day: Resurgence, will be looking to capitalise on the same sense of nostalgia that helped make Jurassic World a huge hit this year, and with Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman back, it's on the right track.
July is chockablock with big titles. Three massive family films (see below), vie for screen space with the new female Ghostbusters, Star Trek Beyond and Bourne 5. The latter sees Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon return, so should be the stand-out action film of the summer.
August is all about Brent, as Ricky Gervais brings his greatest creation to the big screen in Life On The Road. While, Bridget Jones is back in September as Renee Zellweger reprises the role that earned her an Oscar nomination and banked almost £80m at the UK box office. October is full of high quality literary adaptations, the most intriguing of which is the latest publishing phenomenon, The Girl On The Train. Over 2m copies have been sold already in the UK and it's not out on paperback until March.
Q4 seems to be the favourite time for distributors to release their biggest films and this year is no different. J.K. Rowling returns to the wizarding world of Harry Potter and pens her first screenplay with Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. Finally, in December Star Wars is back, as Disney release the first in its anthology series. Rogue One is about the team who steal the plans for the Death Star, that allow the rebels to attack it at the climax of A New Hope. The cast is amazing (Felicity Jones, Ben Mendelsohn, Mads Mikkelsen) and Gareth Edwards looks to cement the promise he's shown with Monsters and Godzilla. After the huge success of The Force Awakens, it's the film to beat next year.
That's before I even mention the family slate. There's a decent chance it will be the biggest year ever, with new films from the popular Kung Fu Panda and Ice Age franchises. Alice Through The Looking Glass will be looking to repeat the first film's £40m performance and Disney brings out a live action Jungle Book, in addition to releasing two brand new titles in Zootropolis and Moana. Illumination Entertainment's big title is The Secret Life Of Pets and the first teaser is one of the funniest released last year. Add to that an Angry Birds film, a sequel to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Laika releasing another stop-motion marvel in Kubo and the Two Strings. Those alone make it pretty big and we still haven't talked about Pixar's Finding Dory. It should be the biggest family film of 2016 but it has a major rival in Steven Spielberg's live-action The BFG. Released to coincide with Roald Dahl's 100th birthday, it's written by Melissa Mathieson (E.T. The Extra Terrestrial) and stars new Spielberg favourite, Mark Rylance. The BFG is going to be everywhere come July. It all adds up to what should be another giant year.