Year Ahead

The Year Ahead: Culture in 2024

Taylor Swift will leave her mark on Toronto and Vancouver, while business mogul Ryan Reynolds returns to the big screen. Montreal’s video game industry will boom with new business, but Canada’s film and TV sector may take a hit. 

(Illustration by Anna Minzhulina)

1. Taylor Swift mania will take over Toronto and Vancouver

Canadian Swifties were seeing red when they heard that the singer had left Canada off her wildly successful Eras world tour, but they were somewhat appeased with the announcement of a six-night Toronto run in November and three nights in Vancouver in December. Local businesses will also be Swift lovers for a spell—in the U.S., her tour stops usually generate a total of US$5 billion in spending. When Swifties come to town for her concerts, they spend, on average, about US$1,300 on hotel stays, food and merch. Times that by hundreds of thousands of fans over the course of nine nights, and you’ve got an economic boon.

2. Deadpool 3 will blow apart the multiverse

Deadpool 3 might just be the most Canadian superhero movie ever made. This year, Vancouver native—and mega-successful business mogul—Ryan Reynolds returns to the big screen as the foul-mouthed antihero from Canada, directed by Montreal-born (and Reynolds bestie) Shawn Levy. Deadpool will be joined by Wolverine, canonically an Albertan superhero, played by Hugh Jackman in his comic-classic yellow costume. This is one of Disney’s first blockbusters to feature Marvel characters previously owned by Fox. Viewers can expect a meta, no-holds-barred adventure that takes them across the Marvel cinematic universe.

3. It will be the year of Celine Song

It’s hard to imagine how anything could top 2023 for director Celine Song. It was the year of her debut feature, Past Lives, inspired by her Korean-Canadian upbringing in Toronto, which premiered to critical acclaim; Guillermo Del Toro called it an “exquisite, delicate, powerful piece of cinema.” But this year seems even more promising: she’s getting Oscar buzz for Past Lives, and she already has a sophomore film in the works. Materialists, her new A24 movie about the lives of New York City’s elite, will likely come out by the end of 2024.

4. Sophie Grégoire Trudeau will change career paths

Since announcing her separation from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2023, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau is entering her next chapter—literally. She’s publishing not one but two books in the years to come. The first, Closer Together: Knowing Ourselves, Loving Each Other, is a self-help book hitting shelves in the spring, in which Grégoire Trudeau describes her struggles with an eating disorder as a teen and young adult and the expectations she faced as the Prime Minister’s wife. To gain further insight into mental health and personal growth, she conducted interviews with experts like Gabor Maté and Liz Plank. Her next release will be a picture book, out in 2025, that encourages children to explore the outdoors and connect with their inner emotions.

5. The AGO will honour hip hop’s artistic influence

In 2023, hip hop celebrated the 50th anniversary of its debut at a Bronx house party. To commemorate this milestone, the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto will premiere The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century, a multimedia exhibition about how the genre has influenced art. The show, which opens in December of 2024, features images by Deana Lawson—the photographer for Garage magazine’s cover story on Rihanna—who captures intimate portraits of Black subjects in domestic settings, and Hank Willis Thomas, a Guggenheim fellow known for a series of images where he superimposed the Nike swoosh on Black men’s bodies. The exhibition also showcases work by Kendrick Lamar and Kahlil Joseph, and influential design pieces by Black artists, like Adidas Originals by Pharrell and Louis Vuitton by Virgil Abloh.

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6. The Online News Act will disrupt the media industry

The Online News Act, which came into effect in late December, requires social media companies that share Canadian content to compensate its creators; the mandatory minimums amount to US$172 million per year. In response, Meta—the owner of Instagram and Facebook—has already blocked Canadians’ access to news outlets on its platforms. Google is also rattling its sabre. Executives told the federal government that they will block news if the government doesn’t back down. Changes to Apple News may also be in store for this year—the Canadian Association of Broadcasters recently asked the federal government to include the platform in legislation.

7. A new Ontario Place will (likely) dawn

The future of Ontario Place is one of Canada’s most contentious debates in public space development. In 2021, Doug Ford’s government announced that the area, home to Toronto’s Cinesphere and Trillium Park, would undergo a multi-million-dollar redevelopment led by Therme, a global spa developer; Live Nation Entertainment, operator of the Budweiser Stage and Echo Beach; and Écorécréo, an outdoor recreation firm. The new plan, which has faced public outcry over its commercialization of a beloved public space and for its high price tag, will include additions like a massive spa, waterpark, music venue and public beach. Shovels are set to start digging this year, but opponents still have room for hope: Ontario’s auditor general recently announced a probe into the development.

8. Dan Levy will make his big directorial debut on Netflix

Dan Levy, the superstar Canadian co-creator of Schitt’s Creek, has been lying low since the show wrapped up in 2020, mostly sticking to guest appearances in The Idol and Sex Education. But soon he’ll add director to his resumé with Good Grief, a new Netflix film set to debut this year. Levy also acts in the movie, starring as a widower who tries to get his groove back during a trip to Paris with his two best friends, played by Ruth Negga and Himesh Patel. Levy has said that the film is a story about friendship, grief and what happens when people confront certain truths they’ve long evaded.

9. Canada’s screenwriters and actors will enter labour talks

The SAG-AFTRA and Writers’ Guild strikes in the U.S. may be over, but talks are just beginning for the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists and the Writers Guild of Canada. The heads of ACTRA and the WGC say they are facing similar issues to their American counterparts, including low pay and the threat of AI replacing writers and actors. In late 2023, the WGC entered talks, partly informed by the deal their American sister organization struck. ACTRA, meanwhile, has already faced issues renewing its collective bargaining agreement with the Institute of Canadian Agencies, which represents the country’s biggest advertising agencies. They will go to the table late this year.

10. Montreal will get a new gaming super-studio

Montreal is cementing its reputation as Canada’s video game epicentre, home to major studios like Ubisoft, Square Enix and Electronic Arts. Soon, Sony Entertainment will open a new 50,000-square-foot office downtown. The move comes a year after Sony bought Haven Studios, a Canadian video game company founded by Jade Raymond, the co-creator of Assassin’s Creed. Haven Studios was key in the development of blockbuster games like Watch Dogs, and the studio’s first effort, Fairgame$, in which players can rob the rich, was announced in early 2023 for the PlayStation 5 and PC.

This article is part of the Year Ahead 2024, which is Maclean’s annual look at everything that’s coming your way next year. You can buy the print version right here.

This article is part of the Year Ahead 2024, which is Maclean’s annual look at everything that’s coming your way next year. You can buy the print version right here.

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