If 2005 hits were any indication, it appears that people will just embrace something familiar if they think it's quality entertainment. Cases in point: The latest installments of the 'Star Wars' and 'Harry Potter' movies became the year's top blockbusters; returning hitmakers 50 Cent and Mariah Carey delivered smash albums; and 'CSI,' 'American Idol' and 'Desperate Housewives' continued to dominate the TV landscape.
As for new entertainment with fresh content, it seems that people are seeking our edgier fare. At the box office, raunchy and irreverent comedy was in ('Wedding Crashers,' 'The 40 Year Old Virgin'), while big-budget, action-adventure films ('Stealth,' 'The Island') underperformed or tanked.
In 2006 will we overdose on more crime TV shows? Will anyone care about the latest 'Superman' movie? Here are TMZ's picks for the entertainment that will hit, bomb or turn out to be bigger than people expect.
Predictable Blockbusters It's a given that these films will probably gross at least $100 million, based on the big names involved or the franchise's track records. Sequels such as 'Mission: Impossible 3' (May 5), 'X-Men 3' (May 26) and 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest' (July 7) should do big business. Others that are expected blockbusters of 2006 include:
'The Da Vinci Code' (May 19) Tom Hanks has been in a bit of a box-office slump ('The Terminal,' 'Ladykillers'), but this high-profile thriller adapted from the bestselling book should make Hanks a box-office champ again. Many of the filmmakers of the Oscar-winning 'A Beautiful Mind' are behind 'The Da Vinci Code,' which could be up for several awards this time next year.
'Superman Returns' (June 30) The highly anticipated movie stars Brandon Routh as the Man of Steel, Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane and Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor. This will be the comic-book flick to beat in 2006.
'Casino Royale' (Nov. 17) Daniel Craig will step into the role of James Bond in this film, but a new Bond shouldn't stop this popular movie series. Oscar-winning actress Judi Dench co-stars.
What Will Flop 'Alpha Dog' (Feb. 24) The movie's title alone sounds like a stinker. Starring box-office poison Sharon Stone (when was her last big hit, anyway?), 'Alpha Dog' is about a drug dealer named Johnny Truelove (played by Emile Hirsch) who becomes one of the youngest people on the FBI's most wanted list. Justin Timberlake co-stars as the drug dealer's friend. And all of this adds up to a drama that will turn out to be an unintentional comedy.
'Idlewild' (March 10) Movie audiences haven't been too kind to musicals lately ('Rent,' 'The Producers'), and 'Idlewild' looks like it would've been better off as a special on MTV. Grammy-winning hip-hop duo OutKast stars in the movie as Prohibition-era nightclub entertainers fending off gangsters who want to take over their club. Did the makers of this film not learn from Prince and his period-era flop 'Under the Cherry Moon'? And did anyone realize that OutKast fans are more likely to want to see an OutKast film set in this century? Also not a good sign: there've been many delays in releasing this film. Although the movie will probably flop, the 'Idlewild' soundtrack (OutKast's next album) should be better received. (See below)
'Miami Vice' (July 28) As much as we love the idea of Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell starring in a movie together, this big-screen remake of the trendy '80s cop show just feels like cold leftovers. The 'Miami Vice' trailer indicates that the film is more style over substance. On TV, that may be acceptable, but when people are shelling out money to see a movie with A-list talent, they should be getting something better than what we can see for free on TV. And when will Hollywood learn that big-screen remakes of TV shows haven't been going over well with the public? Can you say 'Bewitched,' 'The Dukes of Hazzard' and 'Starsky & Hutch'?
Other sequels and remakes that we predict will sink: 'Big Momma's House 2' (Jan. 27), 'Pink Panther' (Feb. 10), 'Final Destination 3' (Feb. 10), 'The Hills Have Eyes' (March 10), 'Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction' (March 31), 'The Omen 666' (June 6), 'The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift' (June 16), and 'Jackass 2' (September).
Sleeper Hits 'The Assasination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford' Despite the long-winded title and the fact that Westerns haven't done too well at the box office lately, this film should rise above expectations simply because it stars Brad Pitt. After all, tight jeans and cowboy hats worked for Pitt in his scene-stealing performance in 'Thelma & Louise.' Casey Affleck (Ben's younger brother) co-stars as Robert Ford.
'Freedomland' (Feb. 17) Racial tensions are explored in this thriller starring Julianne Moore as a distraught mother who claims that a black man stole her car with her 4-year-old son inside. Samuel L. Jackson co-stars as a veteran detective increasingly torn by both sides of the community who believe the woman's story and those who don't.
'Over the Hedge' (May 19) This animated comedy features the voices of Bruce Willis as a con-artist raccoon and Garry Shandling as a shy turtle that forge an unexpected friendship when suburban developers start to take over their forest home. Steve Carrell, William Shatner and Avril Lavigne are also included in this eclectic cast of voices. The odd-couple pairing worked for Shrek and Donkey in the 'Shrek' movies, and it could work for DreamWorks' 'Over the Hedge.'
Predictable Blockbusters 'Skating With Celebrities' (Jan. 18) The cheese factor will be high, but that didn't stop 'Dancing With the Stars' from becoming a hit. This FOX reality show, which shamelessly rips off the 'Dancing With the Stars' concept (pairing pros with celebrity amateurs), puts the C-list celebs on ice instead of a dance floor. Those who signed up for this humiliation include Todd Bridges and Bruce Jenner. People will tune in because we just can't enough of seeing celebrities awkwardly fall down on their butts.
'Courting Alex' (Jan. 23) For anyone who missed Jenna Elfman from her 'Dharma & Greg' days, she'll try to make a comeback in this CBS comedy series. Elfman plays a single lawyer who tries to find a balance between her career and love life. CBS has had a good track record lately with its new comedies and this one should also be a hit.
'Crumbs' (Jan. 12) Sitcom vets Jane Curtin ('Kate & Allie,' '3rd Rock From the Sun') and Fred Savage ('The Wonder Years') return to TV in this family comedy on ABC. Curtin plays the divorced mother of two sons who's being discharged from a mental institution. And she's about to find out that her ex-husband has gotten his new girlfriend pregnant, and that one of her sons (Savage) is gay. This show may not be as smart and funny as 'Arrested Development,' but this dysfunctional family sitcom may strike a chord with viewers.
What Will Flop 'In Justice' (Jan. 1) Do we really need another crime drama on TV? Not this one with a loopy concept. Starring Kyle MacLachlan, this new ABC series features crimefighters who don't just catch the bad guys, but they also free the good ones. Somewhere, the 'Law & Order' people are laughing.
'Emily's Reasons Why Not' (Jan. 9) Based on the hit novel, Heather Graham stars as a successful young woman in publishing who goes through the trials and tribulations of life. On paper, this sounds like a sure-fire hit. But we wonder how this concept can stretch out over several weeks and remain interesting. We can think of many reasons 'why not' to tune into this potential mess on ABC. And enlisting a sexy movie star in the lead role won't guarantee a hit and just makes it look like she's slumming. Remember Alicia Silverstone in 'Miss Match'?
'South Beach' (Jan. 11) Even though Jennifer Lopez is one of the executive producers, this drama on UPN has all the makings of a flop. 'South Beach' is UPN's misguided attempt to have its own sexy nighttime soap. The concept: two working-class best friends from Brooklyn, played by unknowns Marcus Coloma and Chris Johnson, head to Miami and encounter the socialite world of Miami's South Beach. Vanessa Williams co-stars as a hotel owner, and will probably want to erase this show from her resume when it's over. Maybe she and J.Lo should stick to movies and music.
Sleeper Hits 'Love Monkey' (Jan. 6) Tom Cavanaugh, the former star of the quirky drama 'Ed,' has always had an eye for smartly written, under-the radar shows. Now he stars in the CBS drama 'Love Monkey,' a drama about a record company A&R executive and his commitment-phobic perspective on relationships. Jason Priestley and Larenz Tate also star in the series.
'The Book of Daniel' (Jan. 6) This limited-run drama series on NBC stars Aidan Quinn as Rev. Daniel Webster, a husband and father who sees and talks to Jesus. Quinn's character also has to deal with raising three teenage children. What worked for the first season of 'Joan Arcadia' could work for this show.
'The Black Donnellys' Although it doesn't have a premiere date and no cast has been announced yet, this NBC drama already sounds like a winner. Respected filmmaker Paul Haggis ('Crash,' Million Dollar Baby') will write, executive produce and direct this series about four young Irish brothers involved in organized crime in New York City.
MUSIC (Some albums don't have titles and release dates yet)
Predictable Blockbusters OutKast, 'Idlewild' This highly anticipated set is the soundtrack to OutKast's feature film and the follow up to the hip-hop duo's smash 2003 album, 'Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.' Too bad the movie looks like a flop, but the album is sure to go multiplatinum.
Linkin Park After ending its 2004 legal dispute with Warner Bros. Records, and re-upping with the label, rock/rap band Linkin Park will no doubt give fans what they want with its still-untitled new album. Coming off back-to-back No. 1 sets, the New Linkin Park album will probably end up another best-selling chart-topper.
Velvet Revolver Due in spring 2006, the second album from the rock supergroup will once again feature ex-Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland and former members of Guns N'Roses. The band will also do another lengthy tour to support the album. Let's just hope that the tour isn't ruined by Weiland getting arrested again.
What Will Flop The Strokes, 'First Impressions of Earth' (Jan. 3) With all the hype around the Strokes, you'd think they'd be superstars by now. But the truth is the band hasn't even gone platinum in the United States. And lately, the Strokes have been getting more press because their drummer, Fabrizio Moretti, is dating Drew Barrymore. The garage-band craze led by the Strokes seems seriously dated now. In other words, the Strokes are so 2002.
Eve She's been so busy acting in her self-titled UPN sitcom and being known as a fashionista with her own clothing line that Eve may have fallen out of favor with those who think she should've maintained her street credibility as a hip-hop artist. Sales for Missy Elliott's and Lil' Kim's albums fell short of expectations last year, and it'll be hard for Eve to climb out of the slump currently facing female rappers.
The Cure The veteran modern-rock band's 2004 self-titled album was met with a massive yawn, and things probably won't be much different when the band releases its next (still-untitled) album this summer. Their tour will probably fare much better than record sales.
Sleeper Hits Yeah Yeah Yeahs, 'Coco Beware' (March) The alternative rock band led by the striking Karen O. could be on the verge of a major breakthrough as they straddle the line between indie hipster and MTV trendy.
Pharrell, 'In My Mind' (February) He hasn't had a major hit with his band N.E.R.D., but superstar producer Pharrell has had smashes with so many other artists (including the ubiquitous 'Drop It like It's Hot' with Snoop Dogg), that maybe he'll find the platinum motherlode with his first solo album.
Dashboard Confessional The modern rock band has been steadily building a following through the years, with each successive album rising higher and higher on the charts. That loyal fan base could bring Dashboard Confessional to new heights when the group releases its next album in early 2006.