2016 has been a remarkable year in current affairs, and a sad one for the untimely deaths of so many beloved celebrities. But let us turn our attention to something more comforting – film. As the year draws to a close, it’s time to review the 2016 Hollywood trends. Rather than a countdown of the best films, this article looks at the key trends in mainstream cinema of the year. It has been a year that harks back to Golden Age-Hollywood, whilst superheroes met head to head. Disney have dominated once again, whilst the Summer was lacklustre blockbuster season…
2016 Hollywood Trends: Superheroes Assemble
Although big superheroes appearing together in the same film is not a new phenomenon (2012’s Avengers Assemble and even 2014’s The LEGO Movie attest to this), in 2016 it became a noticeable trend. whilst February’s Deadpool only featured lesser-known X-Men with the title character, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice brought together three of DC’s biggest heroes in one film (paving the way for 2017’s Justice League). Released in April, Captain America: Civil War functioned like ‘Avengers 3’ with the inclusion of Iron Man, Ant-Man and other secondary Avengers. Pivotally, the film boasted the addition of Spider-Man (who had previously appeared only in Sony films). In August, the hotly-anticipated Suicide Squad hit the big screen. The film featured many of Batman’s nemeses together, including the Joker, and Harley Quinn in her first live-action film appearance.
2016 Hollywood Trends: Golden-Age Revival
2016 has been the year for Golden-Age Hollywood nostalgia. The Coen Brother’s comedy Hail, Caesar! focussed on the day in the life of a studio fixer in 1950s Hollywood. As well as all the backstage activity Mannix has to keep under wraps, the film features some great musical sequences harking back to classic Hollywood features. Albeit, with tongue firmly in cheek. Woody Allen’s Café Society focuses on the assistant to a Hollywood producer working in the 1930s. With the action taking place between Hollywood and New York, the film offers wonderful costumes and a salubrious soundtrack. Although it is set in contemporary Los Angeles, La La Land (opening at UK cinemas on 12th January 2017) is brimming with Golden Age nostalgia. The opening sequence, and indeed others later in the musical, are reminiscent of the best technicolor musicals of the 1950s. Continuing this trend, Warren Beatty’s 1950s Hollywood-set Rules Don’t Apply arrives on UK screens in March 2017.
2016 Hollywood Trends: Disney Dominance
Disney sitting on top of worldwide box office grosses is not a surprise considering the properties the company owns (Marvel, Pixar, LucasFilm). In 2015, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was crowned box office champ, pulling in almost $400 million more than nearest competitor Jurassic World. Nevertheless, this year Disney have completely dominated worldwide box office grosses, with four films (Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory, Zootropolis, and The Jungle Book) each grossing more than any other studio’s production. And this is while Rogue One: A Star Wars Story currently rides high at the box office across the world.
2016 Hollywood Trends: Starring Michael Shannon
It may not be immediately obvious when looking back at 2016 films, but Michael Shannon has appeared in a plethora of films this year. The actor has no fewer than ten credits for 2016. These range from leading roles in films such as Midnight Special and Frank & Lola, to a supporting role in Loving (released in UK cinemas on 3rd February 2017), and even in a brief flashback in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Shannon delivered a scene-stealing performance in Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals, released in November. Expect to see more of Shannon next year, with Wener Herzog’s Salt and Fire, among others.
2016 Hollywood Trends: Lacklustre Summer Blockbusters
There were plenty of Summer blockbusters in 2016 (as has been the case for years), but this year’s tentpoles seemed to lack something. July’s The Legend of Tarzan may have delivered somewhat decent worldwide box office grosses, but reviews were less than sparkling. Ghostbusters‘ domestic gross did not get near its reported production budget, and Independence Day: Resurgence received poor reviews. Meanwhile, Star Trek Beyond, Jason Bourne, and Suicide Squad failed to make the impacted expected at the box office. At the tale-end of the Summer, sword and sandals epic Ben-Hur flopped at the box office. If 2016 is anything to go by, 2017’s Summer blockbusters will need to beat family animation and Spring superhero films to take the crown.