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Must-see movies for 2016: 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,' 'Finding Dory,' more

The major movie studios haven’t been just waiting around to see whether “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” would be a blockbuster. They’ve known that since Disney announced the film in 2012. Now that it’s out, and possibly destined to become the highest-grossing film ever, the studios are aggressively rolling out some strong titles in 2016.

As always, that means more superhero franchises, including not one, not two, but three “X-Men” films, (beginning with the Ryan Reynolds vehicle “Deadpool” on Feb. 12). There’s also a fairly high number of long-awaited comedies, from the new “Ghostbusters” to Ben Stiller’s “Zoolander 2.” And for moviegoers who follow directors as well as stars, new films from Richard Linklater and the Coen Brothers are on the slate.

Fair warning: You may find that this year will end much like 2015, with another “Star Wars” movie, “Rogue One” — a stand-alone spin-off starring Felicity Jones — scheduled for Dec. 16.

In the meantime, here are the films to look forward to in 2016.

'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' (Feb. 5)

Photo Credit: AP / Jay Maidment

"Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" (Feb. 5): Director Burr Steers ("Pulp Fiction") retells Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith's novel with the same name about relationships forming between lovers of different social statuses. Cast includes Lily James, Sam Riley, Bella Heathcote and Suki Waterhouse.

'Hail, Caesar!' (Feb. 5)

Photo Credit: Alison Rosa

"Hail, Caesar!" (Feb. 5): Josh Brolin plays Eddie Mannix, a Hollywood "fixer" named after a real MGM executive. If that's not meta enough, the film's title is that of a film (starring a famous actor played by George Clooney) within this film, which centers on a kidnapping plot. Also starring Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill and Tilda Swinton.

'Deadpool' (Feb. 12)

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox Film / Joe Lederer

"Deadpool" (Feb. 12): Ryan Reynolds plays the lead in this action comedy, which is a spinoff of Marvel's "X-Men," about a Special Forces operative-turned-superhero (Deadpool) who is on the hunt to destroy the man who nearly destroyed him. Starring Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller, Gina Carano and Brianna Hildebrand.

'Zoolander 2' (Feb. 12)

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

"Zoolander 2" (Feb. 12): Ben Stiller's 2001 comedy "Zoolander," about a male model and his brainless friends, has become such an esteemed modern classic that the idea of a sequel -- even with original stars Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell -- sounds worrisome. The trailer, however, promises good things, despite a minor controversy over Benedict Cumberbatch as a gender-ambiguous model named All.

‘Triple 9’ (Feb. 26)

"Triple 9" (Feb. 26): Woody Harrelson, Kate Winslet, Casey Affleck, Teresa Palmer and Aaron Paul are among the cast of "Triple 9," a thriller that follows a group of criminals and corrupt cops who are being blackmailed by the Russian mob. The only way to appease them is to pull off their biggest heist yet.

'Eddie the Eagle' (Feb. 26)

Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox Film / Larry Horricks

"Eddie the Eagle" (Feb. 26): The story of Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards, a British ski jumper who finished last at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. Starring Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Christopher Walken.

'Zootopia' (March 4)

"Zootopia" (March 4): Officers Judy Hopps, a rookie bunny voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin, and con-artist fox Nick Wilde, voiced by Jason Bateman, are on a mission to crack a case in the city of Zootopia, which is populated by different breeds of animals. Directed by Byron Howard ("Tangled," "Bolt") and Rich Moore ("Wreck-It Ralph," "The Simpsons") and co-directed by Jared Bush ("Big Hero 6").

‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ (March 4)

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures and Broadway / Frank Masi

"Whiskey Tango Foxtrot' (March 4): A deskbound journalist (Tina Fey) volunteers to report on the Afghanistan War. Based on Kim Barker's 2011 memoir, "The Taliban Shuffle," the movie presents the stories of two crises -- one personal, one international -- but both get superficial treatment. Cast includes Martin Freeman, Margot Robbie.

'Hello, My Name Is Doris' (March 11)

Photo Credit: Aaron Epstein

"Hello, My Name Is Doris" (March 11): Doris Miller (Sally Field), a 60-something woman, falls for a workplace colleague half her age, played by Max Greenfield of FOX's "New Girl."

'10 Cloverfield Lane' (March 11)

Photo Credit: Paramount

"10 Cloverfield Lane" (March 11): Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays Michelle, a woman who wakes up after a car accident and finds herself in the underground home of a man who says he saved her life. She's told the outside world is uninhabitable, but she believes she's been abducted and tries to escape. Also stars John Goodman ("Monsters, Inc," "Roseanne") and John Gallagher Jr. ("The Newsroom"). Directed by Dan Trachtenberg.

'The Divergent Series: Allegiant’ (March 18)

Photo Credit: Lionsgate / Murray Close

"The Divergent Series: Allegiant" (March 18): Based on the "Divergent" novels by Veronica Roth, the third installment of the series, "Allegiant," follows the journey of Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James), who are determined to leave everything behind and get on the other side of the wall that's enclosing Chicago. Also starring Zoe Kravitz, Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, more.

'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' (March 25)

"Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" (March 25): The initial outcry over Ben Affleck's casting as Batman seems to have subsided, though that could change once superfans finally see this hotly anticipated film (directed by Zack Snyder, of "Man of Steel"). At any rate, the really interesting thing about it is the introduction of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, who'll get her own movie in 2017. Henry Cavill returns as Superman.

'The Jungle Book' (April 15)

Photo Credit: Disney

"The Jungle Book" (April 15): Directed by Jon Favreau and based on Rudyard Kipling's story, the film follows Mowgli (Neel Sethi), a young boy raised by a family of wolves. Voices by Idris Elba, Ben Kingsley, Scarlett Johansson, more.

'Everybody Wants Some' (April 15)

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

"Everybody Wants Some" (April 15): Richard Linklater's new movie focuses on a group of college baseball players, and features a largely unknown cast. Little is known about the plot -- Linklater movies don't always have one, anyway -- but what makes this movie special is that it's being called a "spiritual sequel" to his beloved 1993 film "Dazed and Confused."

'Captain America: Civil War' (May 6)

Photo Credit: Marvel

"Captain America: Civil War" (May 6): The Avengers become a force divided when allies Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) can't see eye to eye.

'Money Monster' (May 13)

Photo Credit: Sony Pictures / Atsushi Nishijima

"Money Monster" (May 13): Jodie Foster directs George Clooney -- you're already sold, right? -- in a thriller about a popular television stock-tipster who gives bad advice to the wrong guy. This sounds like a B-movie plot with a classy cast (including Julia Roberts and Dominic West), a formula that has certainly worked before.

'X-Men: Apocalypse’ (May 27)

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox / Alan Markfield

"X-Men: Apocalypse" (May 27): Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) and Professor X (James McAvoy) lead a team of young X-Men to stop Apocalypse -- the Marvel X-Men universe's most powerful mutant -- from attempting to destroy the world as they know it.

'Finding Dory' (June 17)

Photo Credit: TheEllenShow via YouTube

"Finding Dory" (June 17): Though few specifics are known about the plot, a sequel to "Finding Nemo" is bound to pull in audiences, and Pixar is still the gold standard for animated films (yes, even despite "The Good Dinosaur"). Ellen DeGeneres returns to play the voice of Dory, the forgetful blue tang, who goes off in search of her own family.

'Ghostbusters' (July 15)

Photo Credit: Hopper Stone

"Ghostbusters" (July 15): The 1984 sci-fi comedy gets a makeover with Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones donning the famous jumpsuits. This is reportedly a new story, not merely an all-female reboot, written by Katie Dippold ("The Heat") and director Paul Feig ("Spy"). Chris Hemsworth plays the troupe's receptionist.

'Suicide Squad' (Aug. 5)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures via Youtube.com

"Suicide Squad" (Aug. 5): A superhero film whose heroes are supervillains, "Suicide Squad" focuses on a team of bad guys -- "the worst of the worst" -- that undertakes a dangerous assignment for the government. With Jared Leto, Will Smith and Viola Davis.

'Snowden' (Sept. 16)

Photo Credit: Open Road Films

"Snowden" (Sept. 16): If someone's going to direct a biopic of the controversial whistle-blower Edward Snowden, who better than Oliver Stone? Some might say: Who worse? And that's what will make this movie interesting. Although it has a troubled history -- it was originally scheduled for a Christmas 2015 release, pushed to May and then again to September -- the casting of Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the lead sounds promising.

'The Girl on the Train' (Oct. 7)

Photo Credit: Riverbed; Getty Images / Anthony Harvey

"The Girl on the Train" (Oct. 7): Emily Blunt plays a woman traumatized by a recent divorce who begins eavesdropping on a seemingly perfect couple. This thriller from Tate Taylor ("The Help") is based on Paula Hawkins' best-selling novel and stars Rebecca Ferguson ("Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation"), Edgar Ramírez ("Joy") and Allison Janney.

'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' (Nov. 18)

Photo Credit: Jaap Buitendijk

"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" (Nov. 18): Many major studios have been trying to replace the "Harry Potter" franchise, but the lucky folks at Warner Bros. simply went back to their source: J.K. Rowling, making her screenwriting debut with a film about a Hogwarts textbook. Eddie Redmayne plays its author, Newt Scamander, heading a cast that includes Katherine Waterston, Ezra Miller and Colin Farrell. Directed by four-time "Potter" veteran David Yates.

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