A New Movie Season, Same As the Last Movie Season

By  · Published on September 1st, 2015


Plenty of critics have noted the end of the summer movie season. In general, not just the one actually ending this week. With tentpoles hitting theaters at all times of the year now, and with half of the 10 top-grossing movies of 2015 (so far) having come out before Memorial Day, it’s clear that the hotter months aren’t that special when it comes to blockbuster cinema anymore. And this fall is bringing more proof in its own parade of big action movie sequels, such as Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 and plenty of major sci-fi and fantasy releases, including The Martian, Pan and The Last Witch Hunter. Plus, fitting both categories, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

But there’s another reason to expect a smooth transition from summer to fall this year. A bunch of upcoming movies will heavily remind you of the movies you watched over the past few months, almost to the point of sensing deja vu. They feature similar themes, characters, subjects, time periods and more, yet there’s an interesting twist to each of these carry overs. Here’s our guide to what’s being repeated from the past few months over the next few months:

Dinosaurs and Humans Living Together

The biggest movie of the summer (and year) is, somewhat surprisingly, Jurassic World. And one of the most anticipated movies of the fall is Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur. The latter will be a worthy alternative for your kids who were too young to see the horrific reality of what it’d be like for dinosaurs and humans to share the Earth. The worst thing that happens to people in the animated feature seems to be that they’re kept as pets by the larger creatures. The Good Dinosaur sort of fits into the current fan-theory trend where movie heroes are imagined as the real villains, and vice versa. This time it’s the dinos. We saw them bad in Jurassic World, now see them “Good.”

Spies, Then and Now

This year’s spy trend has been very apparent, and there’s more from the genre due this fall. There’s quite a change in tone between the summer and fall entries, however. Things are suddenly a lot more serious. Guy Ritchie’s jaunty Cold War action comedy The Man From U.N.C.L.E. makes way for Steven Spielberg’s tense Cold War historical drama Bridge of Spies. And for our modern agents, the latest fun Mission: Impossible installment gives way to the latest no-nonsense James Bond movie, Spectre. There’s also, possibly at peak seriousness, Oliver Stone’s Snowden, which could be the counterpart to the peak silliness of Spy, since both deal with unlikely heroes in their very dissimilar stories of spying.

Putting the Trans in Transition

A strong contender for the hottest indie of the summer is Tangerine, which stars a transgender actress as a transgender sex worker trying to locate and confront her unfaithful boyfriend. Now we’re heading into the time of the year when “indie” movies shine brighter, and cisgender actors take over portrayals of trans characters in bids for awards consideration. Eddie Redmayne playing a pioneer of sexual reassignment surgery in a Tom Hooper-helmed period drama sounds pretty Oscar-baity. And alongside The Danish Girl is About Ray, starring Elle Fanning as a trans teen starting out his transition, dealing with his family’s response. That one is from The Weinstin Company, so also Oscar hungry.

Gibberish-Speaking Cartoon Characters

Here’s a tip for Blue Sky Studios and Twentieth Century Fox Animation: lose Charlie Brown and the rest of the verbally comprehensive kids and let The Peanuts Movie focus solely on Snoopy and Woodstock – and maybe some “wah-wah”-muttering adults. If Minions made a billion dollars around the world because its main characters speak only high-pitched nonsense, then the mostly gibberish-gabbing beagle and bird combo could similarly be box office gold.

Torch-Passing Trilogy

Hollywood has been trying to pass the baton with many of its aging franchises of late, but none have really worked out. This summer’s Vacation may have been close, but it wasn’t exactly a hit, putting into doubt the likelihood of another installment, let alone two. More successful was the extra-textual torch-passing of O’Shea Jackson Jr. playing his dad, Ice Cube, in Straight Outta Compton. If that doesn’t count, though (and sadly it’s not actually going to spawn a franchise), this fall has two very promising attempts in Creed, which stars Michael B. Jordan taking over the Rocky franchise as the son of Apollo Creed, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which starts a new trilogy that will at least pass the franchise torch to a new group of actors, whether any of them are playing the kids of older characters or not.

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.