5 Baffling Hollywood Trends We'll See In 2020
Before you even look at the slate of upcoming movies in 2020, you can probably guess some of the obvious running threads that will show up. There'll be superhero stuff, awards bait, and more of Disney remaking their beloved animated films in halfhearted live action. But there are also a few brewing trends that are a bit more specific, and a lot more confusing. Like how ...
We're Suddenly Getting A Ton Of Belated Sequels
Usually the whole point of a sequel is to capitalize on the hype around the last film. This generally means putting it out within three years or so of the original, so that audiences aren't like "What the fuck even is an Iron Man?" But we've apparently decided it's never too late to go back to any given well.
For example, some bigwig apparently woke up after Rip Van Winkling his way through the the last few decades and shouted, "WE HAVEN'T MADE A TOP GUN 2 YET?" So 34 years after the late Tony Scott's tribute to cool sunglasses and Kenny Loggins, we're getting Top Gun: Maverick. And considering Tom Cruise's recent track record with action films (somehow the Mission: Impossible movies are more watchable than ever), it doesn't seem entirely out of place, even if I'm not totally sure that Pete "Maverick" Mitchell ever needed the Blade Runner 2049 treatment.
The same goes for Coming To America 2 (31 years after the first), which will hopefully keep building momentum for Eddie Murphy after Dolemite Is My Name and remind us why we basically crowned him King Hollywood in the '80s. Similarly, there's Bill And Ted Face The Music (29 years since the last one), because after three stellar John Wick films, Keanu Reeves has a blank check to do whatever he wants forever.
After that, though, I get a little concerned. For example, based on the trailer, Ghostbusters: Afterlife (31 years since #2, although only four since the controversial remake) seems to think that the thing we liked most about the original Ghostbusters was how washed-out and exhausted everything and everyone looked and sounded:
We're also getting a prequel to The Sopranos (the spring chicken of the entry, coming only 13 years after the show concluded), with James Gandolfini's son Michael playing a young Tony Soprano. I do not envy that kid, as taking on that role is like Gordon Ramsey making you dinner and then asking my stupid ass to handle dessert.
Finally, 17 years after the last one, Bad Boys 3 is coming. And the trailer for that seems fine. Martin Lawrence is loud and Will Smith has never not been in the best shape of his life. So if you're passionate about the style of pre-Transformers Michael Bay making a comeback, 2020 is really gonna be your year.
There Are Also A Few Sequels That Completely Ignore The Rest Of The Franchise
The job of a sequel is usually to continue the story of the last movie, or at the very least not throw a middle finger at the last one while speeding away. But no one told 2020 that.
Like, remember Suicide Squad, which starred Jared Leto as the Jared-Leto-est Joker ever? Well, we're getting a Harley-Quinn-led spinoff with Birds Of Prey. And since Margot Robbie is reprising her role as Harley Quinn, you'd think that Suicide Squad will at least get a mention. You know, like a "Weren't you part of some suicide squad?" line, which the audience will laugh off, as if the whole movie was just an embarrassing time that DC Comics got drunk in public. But nope. Apparently Birds Of Prey does everything it can to relieve you of your memories of Suicide Squad.
And that's only the first example of 2020 movies ignoring their predecessors when they wave to them in the hallway. No Time To Die, the latest James Bond flick, doesn't seem too eager to elaborate on the grand plans of the last film. See, in Spectre, classic Bond antagonist Ernst Stavro Blofeld announced that he'd been secretly behind all of the villains in the previous films, as if one Christoph Waltz monologue is gonna neatly and retroactively create a coherent overarching narrative. But here, eh, he's apparently just some guy in a box, being an off-brand Hannibal Lecter and seemingly not controlling every bit of murder and jaywalking in the world like he was in Spectre.
There's also Halloween Kills, which doesn't ignore 2018's Halloween, but is instead the middle part of a trilogy that's ignoring nine straight Halloween sequels. That's 28 years of Halloween. Hell of an employment gap for Michael Myers.
And finally, we have New Mutants, which was originally supposed to come out back in 2018. You know, when the Fox X-Men series was still a thing. It features none of the mutants from the prior films, but (POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD) apparently had a post-credits scene featuring the awesome (and awesomely named) villain Mr. Sinister, who had been loosely referenced in X-Men: Apocalypse and Deadpool 2. But the film's two-year delay and miscellaneous reshoots mean that scene now has a different villain, presumably one whose appearance isn't gonna look sad in hindsight. Not that it matters, though, as a Fox executive has said that this'll be the last one.
So I say go nuts. Tease a bunch of sequels. Have Matt Damon show up as Wolverine. And then in the credits, reveal that all 13 movies were just a dream Deadpool was having.
They're Adapting A Whole Bunch Of Properties That Really Don't Need To Be Movies
I have nothing against Dwayne "OK, It's Cool If You Call Me 'The Rock' Now" Johnson. He reinvigorated the Fast & Furious franchise, starred in the best video game movie since Mortal Kombat (Rampage,) shouldered a franchise that I was super skeptical about reviving (Jumanji), has showed off some true acting talent (Pain & Gain), had the most effortlessly singable part in a Disney film (Moana), and punched California so hard that it disconnected from the continental United States. (That's the plot of San Andreas, right?)
But even I don't trust that there's a good reason to turn the Disney theme park attraction Jungle Cruise into a movie, despite him flexing his way through it.
Who is it for? Who has ridden Jungle Cruise and thought, "This is great, but it would be equally great/better as a goddamn MOVIE." And that's a running theme across certain 2020 films: Throwing hundreds of millions at properties that can't possibly be a safer bet than some of the original projects that are no doubt floating around out there. If you're having to dig this deep, why bother at all?
Like, did you know they're making a Fantasy Island movie, based on the TV series from ... 1977? It was a fantasy series which they're now taking in a horror direction, but does anyone have fond memories of the show, outside of Herve Villechaize yelling about the plane? Then there's Dolittle, which cost $175 million and stars Robert Downey Jr. as the titular animal-understanding doctor. I mean, I know he was the highest-paid actor in the highest-earning movie franchise in history, but $175 million is a lot to spend on a concept that was mostly poop jokes when they last attempted it back in 1998.
More promising is the Artemis Fowl movie (partly because it "only" cost $125 million), which has been in development hell for nearly 20 years. So all the kids and teens who were primed to watch an adaptation back in 2001 have likely aged out of seeing it. Hey, maybe it'll be great. Maybe all these movies will. But this has to be frustrating beyond belief for anybody trying to get an original script greenlit. We only have limited amounts of The Rock to leave to our children, and should not waste such a precious resource.
We're Apparently Going To Reboot Every Profitable Horror Series
Anyone with even a passing awareness of horror history knows that sequels are just a part of life. A lot of people paid to see some weird doll look menacing once, and now our grandchildren are going to delight in Annabelle 3D and Annabelle In Space. And we're certainly getting those. A third Conjuring, a second The Boy, and a second A Quiet Place are all on the way.
But then there's a more recent phenomenon whereby once Hollywood loses faith in those sequels, they rewind and start over with Part 1. Maybe you saw the trailer that recently dropped for the reboot of The Grudge:
It ends with the same "a hand comes out of the back of someone's head while they're in the shower" scare that wrapped up the trailer for 2004's The Grudge -- a scare that was also in the trailer for the original Japanese The Grudge.
Meanwhile, Jordan Peele has written and produced a "spiritual sequel" to Candyman, titled Candyman. Peele's work in horror so far has been pretty great, so I'm excited for this, even if no one can seem to figure out whether there's a new Candyman or if there are now two Candymen. However, the phrase "spiritual sequel" is usually shorthand for "somebody will reference the old movies, but we're basically starting this shit over." And since they've directly announced a new actor playing Candyman, I think it's safe to say that this is a reboot.
Lastly, we have a reboot of The Invisible Man, which is not to be confused with the recently cancelled The Invisible Man. However, this one looks pretty horrifying, telling a story about a woman trying to escape an abusive relationship, and it stars the extremely talented Elisabeth Moss. So it'll likely be better than the one that was supposed to star Johnny Depp and tie into a half dozen other Universal Monster movie remakes. As it turns out, maybe waiting for a unique spin on a familiar concept is better than just giving Frankenstein the Avengers treatment and hoping it works out.
Hollywood Keeps Throwing Money At Video Game Adaptations
There are three notable video game movies coming out in 2020: Sonic The Hedgehog, Monster Hunter, and Uncharted (or at least, Uncharted is supposed to come out in 2020). All three of those series have dedicated built-in fanbases. Sadly, video game movies have a worse track record than any other kind of film. And judging by the development history of Sonic and Uncharted, we're in for an interesting time.
Sonic recently went through a much-praised redesign process, which I can only imagine was wonderful fun for the animators who had to miss holidays and family gatherings to revamp a talking hedgehog monster Twitter didn't like ... only to all be laid off immediately after. Executive Producer Tim Miller said, in regards to the redesign, "This is a franchise, and it has to be great." Which sounds like someone suddenly realizing that if no one likes the current Sonic, they won't be interested in the next four Sonic films Paramount is probably mulling over.
Meanwhile, Uncharted -- a series that seeks to answer the question "What if Indiana Jones had fewer likable qualities?" -- has had a tortured decade-long development. How tortured? Mark Wahlberg, who plays Nathan Dranke's grizzled mentor Sully, was originally supposed to play Drake himself. Back when he was originally cast in 2010, Sully was supposed to be played by Robert De Niro. This movie has been in the works for so long that 2010 Mark Wahlberg has aged into 2010 Robert De Niro.
Lastly, we have Paul W.S. Anderson's take on Monster Hunter -- a series I love because it gives me the "kill the same monster over and over again so that I can get sweet knee pads" thrill I never knew I wanted. Anderson previously directed four of the Resident Evil movies, which aren't exactly known as stellar ambassadors for the genre. This film also stars Tony Jaa, though I fear he may get Force Awakens'd. (The Force Awakens featured two supremely talented martial artists from The Raid, but the only thing they got to do was stand menacingly and then get eaten by a CGI monster.)
But who knows! Maybe all three of these movies will redefine video game adaptations. Maybe in 2021, Jonah Hill will announce Monster Hunter as the Academy Award Winner for Best Picture. If that's the case, burn this column. I believed in you all along, Monster Hunter.
Daniel Dockery is a writer and editor for Cracked and one of the few supporters of Monster Hunter's Oscar campaign. You can find him on Twitter.
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