Whilst it seems every year is now one where we can't move for ever-expanding franchises, 2016 seems set to be a particularly sequel-packed series-continuation-focused twelve months. We've got more entries into the respective Marvel and DC Cinematic Universes, as well as sequels for the likes of Kung Fu Panda, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Finding Nemo and Zoolander to name just a few.
To offer something of a remedy for all of these studio cash cows, here's a selection of ten films (currently) free from the franchise label to be released in the UK throughout 2016. No guarantees that all will be a success - at least a couple have the potential to be really quite ropey, in fact, if things go awry - but all at least have something interesting or different to offer.
The Hateful Eight
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, Kurt Russell, Channing Tatum
Expected in the UK: 8th JanuaryAs a long time Tarantino fan, every new release from the director is something I look forward to. But the third entry in QT's "period trilogy" following Django Unchained and Inglourious Basterds, two of the director's most cinematically accomplished works, could be very special indeed. The concept sounds almost like a 19th Century remake of Reservoir Dogs, placing the eponymous octet in an enclosed setting and letting the drama unfold. With a cast including both seasoned Tarantino collaborators and some impressive new talent added to his canon, The Hateful Eight could spend much of the year floating within many film fans' top tens.
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Domhnall Gleeson, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter
Expected in the UK: 15th January
2015's Best Director Oscar winner, a star-studded cast and a superbly gripping trailer are enough to make this one of my most anticipated of 2016. DiCaprio seems once again destined to be mentioned in amongst the Best Actor nominations, but will this be the performance to break his much-memed unlucky streak at the Adademy Awards?
Director: Oliver Parker
Stars: Michael Gambon, Blake Harrison, Toby Jones, Bill Nighy, Catherine Zeta-Jones
Expected in the UK: 5th February
So maybe it's not non-franchise in the same way as many others on this list, being as it is based on the classic BBC sitcom of the same name, but Dad's Army certainly isn't a studio juggernaut or even a sure thing. Did anyone actually ask for a remake of a comedy series set in the 1940s that started in the 1960s, especially one that's looked back on with such fondness by many? Whilst director Oliver Parker's recent filmography isn't exactly glowing - his last two films were Johnny English Reborn and St. Trinian's 2 - when you consider the British talent filling out the cast it's hard not to hold out hope that this will end up a little comedy gem waiting to be discovered.
Director: John Hillcoat
Stars: Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Woody Harrelson, Aaron Paul, Kate Winslet
Expected in the UK: 19th February
John Hillcoat's earlier films, including The Road and Lawless, whilst not perfect felt as though they offered a great deal of promise for the director's continuing career. This crime drama has an intriguing concept focusing on criminals and corrupt policemen working together combining both a heist and a murder, as well as a solid cast. With the inclusion of actors who have made their names in TV series, such as Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul and The Walking Dead's Norman Reedus, it will be interesting to see if this will be their opportunity to transfer that recognition from the small screen to the big.
Directors: Ethan & Joel Coen
Stars: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum
Expected in the UK: 26th February
If the Coen Brothers have proven anything over their career, it's that you can't predict what they're going to do next. At the same time, however, each of Ethan and Joel's releases has a distinct feel that it's impossible to mistake for anyone else. Hail, Caesar! - a 1950s Hollywood-set mystery about the disappearance of a famous actor - follows that non-pattern brilliantly, looking completely different to the Coen Brothers' most recent release (the near-flawless Inside Llewyn Davis), and yet continuing their unique offbeat aesthetic. Like Tarantino, the fraternal film-makers are furthering some established relationships within the cast whilst throwing in a few Coen first-timers too.
Eddie The Eagle
Director: Dexter Fletcher
Stars: Taron Egerton, Jo Hartley, Hugh Jackman, Tim McInnerny, Christopher Walken
Expected in the UK: 1st April
I've seen neither Wild Bill, Dexter Fletcher's directorial debut (which looked good), nor his second feature, stage musical adaptation Sunshine On Leith (which looked awful). But the eclectic cast, couple with the unique life story of Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards, means I'll be interested to see the reactions for this rather different take on the sports biopic.
Director: Jeff Nichols
Stars: Adam Driver, Kirsten Dunst, Joel Edgerton, Michael Shannon, Sam Shepard
Expected in the UK: 15th April
Jeff Nichols seriously impressed me with both Take Shelter and Mud, and Midnight Special looks to be another slightly unsettling, slightly ethereal slice of modern lore unfolded on the big screen through a talented cast. It will be great to watch Michael Shannon teaming with Nichols once again, as well as seeing what relatively new face Adam Driver, currently dark-siding it up as Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, can offer.
The Nice Guys
Director: Shane Black
Stars: Kim Basinger, Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Ty Simpkins
Expected in the UK: 20th May
Whilst Iron Man 3 received a mixed reception from some (although I really quite liked it), Shane Black's third directorial effort The Nice Guys looks to return to his buddy movie roots. With Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe starring as a private eye and hired enforcer respectively, teaming up to investigate the separate (yeah, right) cases of a missing girl and a dead porn star, this feels like prime territory for Black to return safely from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Jermaine Clement, Bill Hader, Mark Rylance, Penelope Wilton
Expected in the UK: 22nd July
It's perhaps surprising that Roald Dahl's beloved children's novel The BFG hasn't had another big screen adaptation since the 1989 Cosgrove Hall animation featuring David Jason as the voice of the titular colossus. That said, Dahl's work hasn't always transferred as well to film as you might expect. Steven Spielberg in the director's chair, however, and returning to proper family film-making for the first time since The Adventures Of Tintin, means it would be foolish to overlook this next summer.
Story Of Your Life
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Stars: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Michael Stuhlbarg, Forest Whitaker
Expected in the UK: TBA
Denis Villeneuve has been attached to direct a sequel (or is it?) to Blade Runner, but before that he's set to direct this story of alien invasion and linguistic diplomacy. It sounds a world away from much of his previous work, his most recent film being drug war drama Sicario released earlier this year, but Villeneuve has proven himself a capable director, making this one to keep a firm eye on.