Here we are again, folks - America's second-best excuse to pig out while getting drunk and yelling (after Thanksgiving)! The 2016 Super Bowl matchup between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers promises to be quite the spectacle -- and not just because this is the game's 50th anniversary. Last year, 114.4 million viewers made Super Bowl XLIX the most-watched broadcast in U.S. TV history (and the most tweeted Super Bowl, with 28.4 million tweets), so this Super Bowl has to be even Super-er. C'mon, any show that opens with Lady Gaga is clearly determined to make heads pop off, and while there are sure to be more surprises worthy of Left Shark/Missy Elliott levels of delight, here are six things we know are happening this Super Bowl, and that we can't wait to see.
1. Beyonce + Coldplay + ? First and foremost: Beyonce. Coldplay, of course, is headlining this year's halftime show and, well, they're great and all, but we're curious to see how the woman whose shimmying knocked the lights out during the 2013 Super Bowl will be woven into the band's act. Certainly she'll appear for "Hymn for the Weekend," the Coldplay song on which she appears. But in light of criticisms that the Indian garb she wears in the song's video is offensive cultural appropriation, costuming and creative direction for the performance will be critically important. Will Bey's hubby/Chris Martin's bro Jay-Z appear too? Other rumored guest stars include Bruno Mars and Rihanna. The production will take place during daylight hours and, according to Entertainment Weekly, will highlight the Super Bowl's legacy as well as incorporate some level of audience participation.
2. The Hollywood effect There'll be plenty of movie buzz around the big game: Disney will air its Alice Through the Looking Glass trailer and, with other flicks on its 2016 lineup, including The Jungle Book in April and Captain America: Civil War in May, we're likely to see more.
The Hollywood Reporter says the cast of Independence Day: Resurgence, including Liam Hemsworth and Jeff Goldblum, will attend the game. Actors from X-Men: Apocalypse could be there too. Deadpool, out Feb 12, will also have a presence: Ryan Reynolds will be handing out chimichangas (Deadpool's favorite food) from a food truck, and the movie has commandeered a location near Levi's Stadium where Reynolds and T.J. Miller will play darts and serve drinks. Of course, all that probably won't make it to TV screens, but it'll no doubt be all over social media -- which is increasingly as much a part of the game as the halftime show.
3. Social Media Naturally, what will trend on Sunday will hinge on events we can't predict. While Twitter has long been the go-to forum, Facebook just rolled out Sports Stadium, where users can follow the game in real-time as well as comment, "like" and share plays. But count on big brands taking over your feeds and timelines, since it costs much less to get your attention there than on TV. (Pepsi, for example, is spending 40 percent of its budget on digital, Adweek says.) Bud Light is already trending thanks to its hashtag #BudLightParty being used by sports teams, people and bars hosting parties (and of course, for snark, following its tongue-in-cheek political parody commercial with Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen).
4. The commercials With commercials priced at $5 million for 30 seconds (a jump from $4.5 million in 2014), many brands have moved towards teasing spots instead of showing them in full before game day. Highlights include Amazon's peek at its first Super Bowl ad, which stars Alec Baldwin, Dan Marino and Missy Elliott. Pokemon will celebrate 20 years with an extended commercial. Beermaker Shock Top is promising the 'Greatest Super Bowl Ad of All Time' with T. J. Miller. Key & Peele teased something for Squarespace, and Ad Week shared a cryptic press release from perennial pleaser Taco Bell, which will unveil a mysterious new product. And the always-fun Doritos, which has done its "Crash the Super Bowl" contest (asking people to create ads for a chance to win $1 million) since 2006, is ending that this year.
5. There's some sort of game, too Rumors are rampant that Peyton Manning will retire after this game, surely heightening his will to lead the Broncos to victory. But will the 39-year-old's seniority be any match for whippersnapper Cam Newton? Can the Broncos' defense contain the NFL's highest-scoring team? Will Newton take his celebration dance to the next level with a choreographed routine guest-starring Beyonce? I mean, she's already there. Might as well take advantage, right?
6. After the game The Late Show with Stephen Colbert will make TV history as the first late-night show to air post-game. Confirmed guests include Tina Fey, Will Ferrell, Key & Peele and Megyn Kelly, who'll no doubt be prodded to take some jabs at her nemesis Donald Trump. After that, The Late Late Show with James Corden has Carpool Karaoke with Elton John, as well as Zac Efron, Anna Kendrick, a re-creation of classic Super Bowl commercials and something called the Baby Bowl - which sounds like the perfect way to end a long night.
Super Bowl 50 airs Sunday Feb. 7 on CBS, with kickoff at 6:30/7:30c.
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert begins immediately following the game, at approximately 10/9c.
The Late Late Show with James Corden airs following Colbert and local newscasts.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)