In mid-summer 2012 I was joking about the so-called apocalypse that the Mayan calendar predicted for Dec., and I said, “It’s okay if the world ends, I’ve already seen The Dark Knight Rises.

You see, I’d been following the production of Nolan’s film since the premier of The Dark Knight, and I’d been following The Dark Knight production since I saw Batman Begins. It was a cycle of permanent anticipation that influenced me whenever I walked past the Batman section in Curious Comics, or wanted to debate some film trivialities with my friends. It didn’t consume my life, but it meant there was always something to look forward to and think about, no matter what happened to me personally. I imagine this is the sort of comfort that religion holds for spiritual people, which I suppose would make Nolan my God.

But, now that The Dark Knight Trilogy is completed, is there nothing left to look forward to? Well, Nolan is considering a full-on science fiction film written by his brother Jonathan called Interstellar. Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks just announced they are working on a third WWII mini-series for HBO called Masters of the Air. Jurassic Park 4 was just announced for 2014. Joss Whedon is currently preparing a post-Avengers TV series called S.H.I.E.L.D., which will include fan-favorite Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg). And for the five of you who haven’t heard, Disney bought Lucasfilm and has Star Wars Episode VII scheduled for 2015. Star Trek director J.J. Abrams has just signed to direct, which will surely re-ignite the “Trek vs. Wars” debate.

My point is that by the time the apocalypse came and went I had new things to look forward to, and there is a very good reason for this. The film industry is a perpetual motion movie machine, and it has fallen into a predictable pattern over the last 30 to 40 years with the goal of making film geeks like me give free word-of-mouth promotion. I’m not going to fight it, so let’s see how 2013 fits the pattern:

The year starts in Feb.–Mar. (I’ll explain why later) with a spread of action films (Good Day to Die Hard, Snitch), genre films (Oz the Great and Powerful), and delayed holdovers from 2012 (GI Joe: Retaliation) that have mid-range ad campaigns and mid-range expectations.

May is the start of blockbuster season, which, like the last few years, opens with a Marvel film (Iron Man 3) and takes us to the summer and to the year’s biggest movies (Star Trek Into Darkness, Man of Steel, Monsters University, World War Z, Kick-Ass 2, Pacific Rim, The Wolverine, Elysium).

By Sept. we are into the genre films and new franchises that are not sure things (Riddick, The Tomb, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones).

Oct. is where everything gets mixed. We have big sequels (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For), award-seeking genre films (Gravity), remakes (Oldboy, Carrie), and some quirky originals (The World’s End, from the makers of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz).

Nov. mostly gets crowd-pleasing blockbusters (Thor: The Dark World, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Frozen) with a few interesting early Oscar-contenders (Ender’s Game).

Dec. has a final push of blockbusters (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Jack Ryan, Anchorman: The Legend Continues), but this is also the time for all the currently unpublicized Oscar-contenders to make their bids.

The end of the year is Jan., which is where we are for the 2012 movie cycle, and this is where movies go to die. You may have noticed that your options at the theatre are limited, and the best films are the Oscar-contenders held over from Dec. The box office is the best evidence. Currently the highest-grossing film of the month is the Del Toro-produced horror film Mama. Past winners include Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Big Momma’s House 2, and Spice World. Essentially, Jan. is a good time to catch up on your reading.

My point, if I have one, is this: if you enjoy movies but haven’t seen a good one in a while, don’t despair. The Hollywood calendar will reset after Seth MacFarlane hosts the Oscars on Feb. 24, and this perpetual motion machine will continue to churn out good films, bad films, and ugly Jan. films until a real apocalypse puts a stop to it.