2023: the year of the film franchise
As phase five of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is set to take over from February 2023, the famed film franchise is not the only one expected to dominate cinema screens this year. From much awaited sequels such as Dune Part Two, Spider-man: Across the Spider-Verse and Shazam!: Fury of the Gods, to long-standing titles such as Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One to the return of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, this year is sure to reunite blockbuster movie fans with their film favourites.
Following the highly anticipated return to Pandora with Avatar: The Way of Water, box office responses did not seem to reflect the expected excitement for the high budget James Cameron feature. The sequel to the highest grossing film of all time, has seen a staggering, yet slower start than expected, especially in response to its estimated USD 350 million production cost, presenting a global opening box office result of USD 435 million. As performance is set for a table growth, much like its predecessor, what will be the case for this year’s round of cinematic second (and beyond) comings?
Calling Trilith Studios in Atlanta,Georgia home from November 2021 to May 2022, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, set to be released on May 5, will follow Peter Quill, played once again by Chris Pratt, and his team, as they embark on yet another intergalactic adventures. While the Guardians will be travelling through space and time, in the animated world of the MCU, Miles Morales will stumble through dimensions with the June 2 release of Spider-man: Across the Spider-Verse. Directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson, original cast members Shameik Moore Hailee Steinfeld and Jake Johnson will reprise their roles with new characters being played by Issae Rae, Daniel Kaluuya, Jason Schwartzman, Brian Tyree Henry, Luna Lauren Valez, Greta Lee, Rachel Dratch, Jorma Taccone, Shea Whigham, and Oscar Isaac.
Whilst bringing about a bit of controversy after the announcement of the return of Henry Cavill’s Superman, and the subsequent retraction, along with the shift in the cinematic universe as it has been known, the DCU fanbase has been highly opinionated about the state of the franchise and their sentiments towards these changes. But as James Gunn extends his leadership beyond his directorial contribution to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, his newly instated reign alongside Peter Safran within the DC Universe will see him welcoming in the arrival of the much anticipated Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom as well as Shazam!: Fury of the Gods.
Hopping back into the ring, Adonis returns for Creed III. Facing off against childhood friend Damian, played by Jonathan Major, the third instalment will not be short of its usual triumphant overcoming of trials and tribulations, both within the sporting events and in the personal lives of the characters. Unlike the two preceding films, Sylvester Stallone will not reprise his much loved role as Rocky Balboa for the upcoming feature. With principal filming beginning in January 2022, lead actor Michael B. Jordan was seen on set in Atlanta Georgia.
Denis Villneuve will continue to help tell the story of Paul Atreides as he sets on a warpath to avenge his destroyed family in Dune Part Two. Returning to the cast are Timothee Chalamet and Zendaya who will reprise her role as Chani, as well as Rebecca Ferguson, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Charlotte Rampling, and Stephen McKinley Henderson. With pre-shoots starting in Italy during the beginning of July 2022, principal photography commenced on July 18 in Budapest and moved to Abu Dahbi in Novemeber. Featuring the otherworldliness of Arrakis, the first feature travelled to Wadi Rum and other landscapes of Jordan, as well as Norway, and the revisited Abu Dhabi.
Within in the deep set franchise history, some cinematic veterans including Mission Impossible, and even Indiana Jones will be returning this year, allowing fans to watch the stories continue to unfold. As the classic John Williams crescendos at the end of the trailer, the same childlike wanderlust is felt as scenes of Harrison Ford balancing on the top of moving trains and dodging bullets spark a feeling of nostalgia that hasn’t been felt since the last release in 2008. Older but still as adventurous as ever, Ford is joined by Fleabag star and creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the fifth instalment Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. Infamous for the use of striking locations to emphasise the impressive action sequences that rope audiences every time, Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning part one is no different from its predecessors. Filming in a slew of locations, including Abu Dhabi, Rome, Venice and Birmingham, director Christopher McQuarrie takes special agent Ethan Hunt, played by the daring Tom Cruise, on another adrenaline induced adventure.
“Even better than the original” or “A thunderously, underwhelmingly damp squib of a return”. With movie sequels, there are hardly ever any in between. Well, with 2023 filled with them, as critics and cinema goers get wrapped up in the cycle of follow ups, will this next round learn from the mistakes of the past or will it be another experience of ups and downs?
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