It was a big year in entertainment in 2015, which brought fans a new “Star Wars” movie, the first album from Adele in years, a wealth of new video games, plus in Fresno a touring stop by “The Book of Mormon” and concerts ranging from Shania Twain to Mötley Crüe.
But that was 2015. When you woke up this morning, a new year had started and it’s full of great potential. Before getting bogged down in all that life will bring in the next 366 days (yes, it’s a leap year), here’s what members of the Fresno Bee entertainment and lifestyle staff believe are the events that have the potential to make 2016 memorable.
Movies (Rick Bentley)
“Deadpool” (Feb. 12): Ryan Reynolds takes on the role of one of the most interesting characters in the Marvel Universe. Deadpool is not your typical hero.
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“Warcraft” (March 11): This is an adaptation of the classic video game series. If only one-tenth of the people who own the game see the movie, it will be a hit.
“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (March 25): Forget that it’s another movie with Superman and Batman. This film gets high points for including Wonder Woman (Gal Godot).
“Captain America: Civil War” (May 6): The heroes go to war over differing viewpoints about the Superhuman Registration Act. It isn’t another “Avengers” movie, but there will be just as many characters.
“Finding Dory” (June 17): It has been 13 years since the animated fish tale “Finding Nemo” was released. The wait for another has been far too long.
“Star Trek 3” (July 8): Justin Lin is directing the latest film in the relaunched sci-fi franchise. There’s little known about the script except Simon Pegg was one of the writers.
“Ghostbusters” (July 22): The anticipation is mixed. This all-female version of the ghostbusting story will either be a massive hit or make fans want to call the original cast.
“Suicide Squad” (Aug. 5): A group of DC super villains are given a get-out-of-jail-free card to take on a dangerous mission. The most interesting casting is Jared Leto as The Joker and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn.
“Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them” (Nov. 18): The script for this spinoff of the “Harry Potter” series was adapted by J.K. Rowling from her own book.
“Moana” (Nov. 23): This Disney animated film comes from the same creative team behind “The Little Mermaid,” Ron Clements and John Musker.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” (Dec. 16): This story of the team that steals the Death Star plans is the first of many spinoffs from the “Star Wars” franchise.
Television (Rick Bentley)
“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” (Jan. 21): The CW Network has found the right formula for converting DC Comics characters into strong TV shows. This one mixes heroes and villains working together to save the world.
“The X-Files” (Jan. 24): Not only is Fox bringing back this great series, but it will feature the show’s original stars, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson.
“Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” (Feb. 8): The new TBS show finally brings a female voice to the heavily male late-night talk show world.
“Vinyl” (Feb. 14): Martin Scorsese is the executive producer of this series set in 1970s New York. If he can do for this time and place what he did for “Boardwalk Empire,” HBO will have a major hit.
“Better Call Saul” (Feb. 15): The AMC series that’s a prequel to “Breaking Bad” returns for a second season. Bob Odenkirk stars
“Roots” (no date announced): A&E is producing a new version of the Alex Haley book. The 1977 mini-series is one of the most-watched TV shows in history.
Concerts (Joshua Tehee)
Grizzly Fest, May 7: There has yet to be an official lineup announcement for year two of the annual cross-genre music festival – led by Fresno rapper Fashawn. But if the rumors stand, the festival (slated for May 7) will have its share of indie-rock and funk/soul/reggae.
Justin Bieber: The Canadian teen-pop sensation (who is now of legal drinking age) last played Fresno in 2012 at the height of Bieber Fever. He returns March 26 at the Save Mart Center. Tickets to the show sold out in minutes. The singer recently released a new album that appeals to (gasp, what?) adult men. It will be interesting to see the demographic makeup of those who turn up March 26. Other big Save Mart Center shows already announced include: Carrie Underwood (April 5), Selena Gomez (May 8) and Journey (Aug. 28).
Reel Big Fish: The Huntington Beach ska band doesn’t have the draw it did in 1997, say, during the height of the third-wave ska movement, which included bands like Mighty Mighty Bosstones and No Doubt (and the year “Sell Out” became a minor radio hit). For ska fans, this show Feb. 21 at Strummer’s will be one of the best and most fun shows of the year.
Reverend Horton Heat : The Texas trio returns to Fresno March 17 for a show at Fulton 55. Music fans should be excited about the band’s style of punked-up reverb-drenched country rock. The kicker here is the rest of the tour’s lineup, which includes the comedy-country singer Unknown Hinson (who does the voice of Early Cuyler on the Adult Swim series Squidbillies) and the Gothic rockabilly band The Legendary Shack Shakers (whose song “Swampblood” was featured on the soundtrack of HBO’s “True Blood”).
Albums (Joshua Tehee)
Tool (title and release TBA): News that the ’90s alt-art rockers are working on new material has made fans giddy. And rightfully so. It will be the first new album from the band since the 2006 release of “10,000 Days.”
Beastmaker, “Lusus Naturae”, early 2016: Fresno doom metal/stoner band Beastmaker was signed to the English label Rise Above Records in September. The label is the home to bands like Angel Witch, Cathedral and Ghost. Expect a 7-inch release in January with a full-length album to follow.
Rihanna, “Anti,” release date TBA ... still: The release of Rihanna’s much-hyped eighth studio album has been a long-time coming – as in, it keeps getting delayed. Current speculation is it will be out sometime this month. We will see.
Shopping and restaurants (Bethany Clough / Joshua Tehee)
Dave & Buster’s: This mashup of restaurant, bar, arcade and adult playground is probably the most highly anticipated chain business coming to Fresno right now. Surveys by River Park show Fresnans were begging for it. Construction on the 30,000-square-foot building has started on an empty lot at Friant Road and Highway 41, between Applebee’s and the northbound offramp. It is expected to open this summer.
Hobby Lobby: The arts, crafts and home decor store has a huge following waiting not-so-patiently for the first Fresno store to open. The Fashion Furniture Outlet Showroom and other buildings have been knocked down on Blackstone Avenue to make way for the store. It will be built between Sierra and Herndon avenues, north of the Goodwill store. Hobby Lobby has been predicting opening during the first three months of 2016, but that will depend upon the construction schedule.
House of Pendragon + Pita Kabob: The Sanger brewery and Visalia Mediterranean restaurant teamed up to create a gastropub in a 7,000-square-foot location on Van Ness Boulevard near Inyo Street in downtown Fresno. At last word, the restaurant was yet to be named and scheduled to open in February. To which we say: We can. Not. Wait.
Video games (Rory Appleton)
“Street Fighter V,” Feb. 16: The premiere fighting game finally gets a true sequel. It will definitely be a smash hit for casual gamers and on the professional gaming scene.
“Far Cry Primal,” Feb. 23: Finally, an honest to goodness caveman game. Don’t mess this up, Ubisoft!
“The Division,” March 8 (for now): This game has been delayed so many times that I can’t even remember what it’s about. I think there’s an illness that threatens humanity?
“Dark Souls III,” April 12: More impossibly hard killing.
“Uncharted 4,” April 26: The much-delayed final chapter in the thieving/spelunking adventures of Nathan Drake.
“Overwatch,” June 21 (I think): This is the rumored release date for EA’s recycled shooter. Watch out for this one – it looks awesome.
“Final Fantasy” and “Kingdom Hearts” games, TBA: We are supposed to get at least four of these in 2016. They all look amazing, but none more than “Kingdom Hearts III.”
“Mass Effect: Andromeda,” TBA: This will be the game of the year.
“South Park: The Fractured But Whole”: Matt Stone and Trey Parker released a fantastic role-playing game in 2014. Now they will try their hand at an action title, a la “Assassin’s Creed.”
Theater (Donald Munro)
9 to 5: The Musical: Good Company Players presents the musical adaptation of the hit movie at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater. (Jan. 14-March 13)
“Blue Willow”: Fresno State’s theater department offers the world premiere of a play about contemporary rural life in the Valley. (May 6-14)
“Heathers: The Musical”: The cult film gets the musical treatment in a central San Joaquin Valley premiere at the Selma Arts Center. (Scheduled for summer)
“Mulan and the Battle on Black Mountain”: An original Charles Erven play is always a cause for celebration at Fresno City College. (Feb. 26-March 5)
“The Phantom of the Opera”: The granddaddy of ambitious Broadway musicals gets a full-scale production on tour Oct. 5-16 at the Saroyan Theatre.
“The Who’s Tommy”: Joel C. Abels brings this musical production, which he directed long ago for Children’s Musical Theaterworks, to StageWorks Fresno July 1-17 with an adult cast.
Visual arts and classical music (Donald Munro)
“Alexander Nevsky”: The Fresno Philharmonic’s final concert of the season April 24 will bid adieu to conductor Theodore Kuchar with a program including vocalist Kelley O’Connor and the Fresno Master Chorale in the famed Prokofiev piece.
“Dead Man Walking”: On May 7, Fresno Grand Opera tackles Jake Heggie’s contemporary opera based on the bestselling 1993 memoir by Sister Helen Prejean.
“Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray”: The Fresno Art Museum is ramping up for a blockbuster show featuring 50 photographs of the pop-culture-superstar artist by a former lover. Opens Jan. 22.
Conventions (Rick Bentley)
Silicon Valley Comic Con 2016 (March 18-20): The inaugural edition of the convention will feature appearances by William Shatner and Stan Lee.
WonderCon 2016 (March 25-27): The comic book and pop culture convention that is second in size in California only to ComicCon will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Comic-Con International: San Diego (July 21-24): This massive convention is not only a place to find collectibles but has become a major stop for TV show and movie promotions.