In many ways 2015 saw the entertainment industry look back as it moved forward, returning with new Marvel and DC Comics films, new installments of the Star Wars, Star Trek, and Zoolander films, Dr. Dre returning to the top of the Billboard, and even Kanye West looking to Paul McCartney for inspiration for his latest album. The year also saw increased competition in streaming music and for Kyrie Irving's Uncle Drew as well as a welcome return by The Gorillaz. All told, 2015 was a big win for music and movie fans with plenty of momentum headed into 2016. So, before we close the book on '15, let's take a brief look back at the year that was.
Unless you just crawled out from under a rock, Star Wars: The Force Awakens unleashed a torrent of movie goers when the filmed debuted on December 19. Following its first weekend, the seventh film in the franchise broke US and worldwide records for an opening weekend, with just a hair under $529 million in ticket sales, edging Jurassic World from its place. The force remains strong with the new Star Wars movie even as the time of this writing, on track to top $1 billion in sales by the close-out of the Christmas weekend. The seventh film also picked up records for the biggest single day opening, the fastest movie to gross $100 million (one day), and helped US movie theatres to bring in the most money ever taken in a single weekend.
Photo via GettyImages
This year also saw our first look at the official trailer for Captain America: Civil War, which is billed as the sequel to 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger and 2014's Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The 13th film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the May 2016 film will be directed by Anthony and Joe Russo and will see the return of Chris Evans, Robert Downey, Jr., and Scarlett Johansson. In other words, just about all the Avengers are back - save for Thor and Hulk - for now, albeit in a quite fractured arrangement.
Beats Music signed off for good this past November, paving the way for Apple's own music streaming service, Apple Music, to carry forward with a slightly less crowded marketplace. The move came about a year after Apple finished the buy-out of the music company and only about 5 months after the launch of Apple Music. Apple helped ease the blow to Beats Music fans by enhancing some of their service's features, including improved recommendations, music integration, and Beats 1.
We don't typically weigh in on politics - even with the campaigns as interesting as they come this fall - but the fact that Kanye West appeared on the cover of The New Yorker this September couldn't go unmentioned. The illustration on the September 14, 2015 issue saw West replicating the iconic shot of Harry Truman holding a copy of the Chicago Daily Tribune, which mistakenly declared Dewey as the presidential victor, swapping in Trump. The image recalled West's proposed campaign for 2020, but it looks like Trump got the jump on West for 2016.
In a year that saw Apple Music absorb Beats Music, Jay-Z broke new ground again in 2015 launching TIDAL, the first artist-owned music streaming service. Unveiled at a ceremony that included some of the biggest names in the industry - ranging from Alicia Keys to Nicki Minaj, Daft Punk, and Madonna - TIDAL will bring CD-quality audio and HD music videos for those willing to pay for it. Today, TIDAL has over 35 million tracks and 85,000 music videos and draws in contributors by providing the market's biggest percentage of royalties to artists and songwriters. TIDAL is a service to keep your eye on in 2016 as the brand spreads its global reach, signs with more labels, employs a new CEO, and finishes its integrating with its sister service, WiMP.
Just in case you happened to actually forget about Dre, the Doctor returned in 2015 with the announcement and release of his first album in 16 years. Titled Compton: The Soundtrack, the album features songs inspired by the N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton, launching in August 2015 with guest appearances by the usual suspects, Snoop, Eminem, The Game, Ice Cube, and Xzibit. After debuting at number 2 on the Billboards and picking up a generally strong acclaim from music fans, the 16 track project also officially put the final nail in the coffin for the much-anticipated Detox.
7. Trailers for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Begin to Heat Up
The follow-up to 2013's Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, released its first trailers this past fall drumming up plenty of hype for the first live-action film that will feature both Batman and Superman as well as the first theatrical reveal of Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg, and The Flash. So far, sneak peaks of the film have been mainly centered on the new Batmobile and the battle between the two leading crime fighters. With plenty of explosions, scenes of Superman tearing the doors off of the Batmobile, and goading by the Joker, the March 2016 film is well on its way to drawing us even deeper into the DC Comics World.
In addition to setting fire to the fashion and sneaker world in 2015, Kanye West also proceeded to dominate on the stage, including his performance during the 2015 Brit Awards. Never one to disappoint, West debuted new music accompanied by a hoodie-wearing gang that included two flame-throwers, but his whole performance during the event was equally attention-grabbing. The performance saw new music released live, with West performing "All Day", a track from his seventh upcoming album, SWISH, featuring the likes of Paul McCartney that had been leaked for months in various forms. If you didn't get a chance to see it, click here to watch it before moving on.
One thing is for sure: this doesn't look like your father's Star Trek. December saw the first look at July 2016's expected Star Trek Beyond, which - judging by the trailer - looks to be packed with wall to wall action. Set to the Beastie Boys' song "Sabotage", the 90-second trailer is the first look at director Justin Lin's (from "The Fast and the Furious" franchise) take on the sci-fi icon, with brief looks at Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, and the rest of the regulars returning to advance the storyline.
With no one left to turn to when all of the world's most beautiful people begin to be assassinated with Derek Zoolander's "Blue Steel" face, Derek has no choice but to call in his friend Hansel to take on the world of high fashion. If that wasn't enough, Derek's main rival, Jacobim Mugatu, played by Will Ferrell, returns to seek his own revenge. Alongside a leather-clad Penelope Cruz and a star-studded cast of today's top funny men (and women), the film's February 2016 launch is a must-see to start off the new year right.
November saw the latest installment of the on-going Pepsi spot, releasing Chapter 4 of its Uncle Drew series starring Kyrie Irving as a grey-haired baller who hasn't lost a step. This clip saw cameos from other basketball greats, Baron Davis and Ray Allen, challenging Drew to a game of Horse in a bid to settle an old score. What unfolds is an epic game of skill mixed in with a bit of new Nike footwear. You've got to love Drew's comeback to the Allen-played Walt when asked if he knows how to spell "H-O-R-S-E" -- "I ain't never made it past H."
While we were readying for Halloween, Gorillaz collaborator Jamie Hewlett confirmed that he and Damon Albarn are working on the group's next album, scheduled for a 2016 release. Very little is known about the planned follow-up to the fan-directed 2011 album "The Fall" with the group staying tight-lipped about its direction aside from Hewlett confirming that live shows and guest appearances are definitely on-tap. Stay tuned for the year of the Gorillaz.