Universal has had a massive, massive year at the box office so far. They started the year with the breakout success of Fifty Shades of Grey, before breaking all sorts of box office records with Furious 7, which is now one of the highest grossing films of all time with over $1.1 billion worldwide. And Universal is set up for even more major success in the near future- Jurassic World and Minions could both do absurd business in the thick of the summer season. If Disney didn't have the one-two punch of Avengers: Age of Ultron and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Universal would undoubtedly be the big hero of 2015. With all of that success, Universal will surely feel pressure to keep it up in the near future. They have a fantastic slate for the rest of 2015 that includes sequels like Pitch Perfect 2 and Ted 2, sleeper hits like Straight Outta Compton and Trainwreck and Oscar players like Steve Jobs. But what's in store for the studio once we close the books on 2015? Their upcoming release schedule was made more clear at Cinema Con on Thursday, where many sure-to-be blockbusters were announced.
The biggest news at the convention was the official announcement of Furious 8, which is now set for release on April 14, 2017. An emotional Vin Diesel revealed the release date of the film to the theater owners, but there's still a lot of work to be done for the film. With Paul Walker and Dwayne Johnson seemingly removed from the franchise, Diesel and company will have a lot of work to do if they want to match the success of one of the biggest blockbusters in Hollywood history.
Universal also confirmed that Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed are in production, with the two films set for release on February 10, 2018 and February 9, 2018, respectively. Both of those films will be major hits, I guess. I don't really know the longevity of this franchise, and I think that there's a chance for these sequels to disappoint like Insurgent did. Maybe the audience is still there and I'm completely wrong, but if Fifty Shades of Grey left a bad taste, people might not show up for the sequel.
Tom Cruise's follow-up to Edge of Tomorrow with director Doug Liman was also announced at Cinema Con yesterday. The film, titled Mena, follows a pilot who becomes the leader of a powerful drug cartel. The film is now set for a January 6, 2017 release date, which doesn't necessarily inspire a lot of confidence. Hopefully this gets an Oscar qualifying run because this sounds like a very good film and the talent involved is enormous.
Universal also shifted the dates for a few of their upcoming tentpoles. Warcraft, Duncan Jones fantasy video game adaptation, was originally set to hit theaters in March 2016, but will now debut on June 10, 2016. Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim 2 was previously set to hit theaters in April 2017, but will now smash into cinemas on August 4, 2017. And finally, The Mummy will premiere on March 24, 2017, moving from its previous summer 2016 date. So to wrap things up, Cinema Con brought lots of changes for the major films that Universal will be hoping to make a buck off in the near future. I'm looking forward to their upcoming films and I'm hoping that these highly anticipated flicks are able to deliver.