2014 Preview (October-December): 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1', 'The Hobbit' Finale, & Christopher Nolan Headline Next Holiday Season

on January 02, 2014

q4.pngBoxOffice wraps up our first 2014 preview with a look at the most promising flicks of the final three months of the year.

Big Hero 6
(Disney/Marvel, 11/7)

In another first for Marvel in 2014, they take the leap into the animation format with this lower-tier group of unknown comic book characters. Disney Animation Studios is on a hot streak with Frozen, Wreck-It Ralph, and Tangled over the last few years, so the combination of that team working with Marvel's brain trust and source material makes for considerable potential. We think a solid domestic run is likely by default as Big Hero 6 won't have much direct competition. All told though, this one's a wild card until the studio releases something more tangible.


(Paramount, 11/7)

Christopher Nolan's first post-Dark Knight Trilogy project is generating significant buzz online despite very little information about the film. Should history repeat itself, general audiences will follow suit as marketing peels away layers of the film throughout the year. The holiday release is a first for the popular filmmaker, indicating studio intentions to gun for awards buzz if the pic is up to usual Nolan standards. He himself is consciously aware of the challenge of space-set films. The secrecy behind Interstellar makes it impossible to forecast whether or not the movie will approach Inception's $293 million domestic run, but overseas (where the dream-sharing blockbuster earned $531 million) success is a safe bet. Key foreign markets will include China, the U.K., France, and Japan.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1
(Lionsgate, 11/21)

As we speak, Catching Fire is bucking the domestic trend of sequels doing less business than their predecessors who seemingly reached a saturation point in audience size. The division of the book series' final entry into two films follows the pattern of the Harry Potter and Twilight series, both of which saw their penultimate installments fall slightly in gross before rebounding with the final film. Expect a similar behavior from Mockingjay domestically. Strong overseas markets should again include the U.K., Germany, and Australia.


(Fox, 12/12)

Ridley Scott gets religious with this adaptation of the story of Moses, to be portrayed by Christian Bale. Scott hasn't delivered a crowd-pleasing blockbuster in awhile, but that could change here. Bale is on his A-game right now just a few years removed from his first Oscar, plus American Hustle's success, and a well-received biblical epic should play well through the holiday season. Like Noah earlier in the year, Brazil and Spain will be among the foreign territories that could put up big grosses for the film.


The Hobbit: There and Back Again
(Warner Bros., 12/17)

Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy will come to a close in what will surely be the most aggressively marketed entry of the franchise since 2003's The Return of the King. A few fans/audiences initially shied away from The Desolation of Smaug after An Unexpected Journey didn't quite live up to the hype of its Oscar-winning predecessors, but the middle chapter's word of mouth is regaining some momentum for the series in a way that should benefit There and Back Again. Another run close to $1 billion globally is likely with a strong finale.


Honorable Mentions: Gone Girl (10/3), The Interview (10/10), David Ayer's Untitled World War II Film starring Brad Pitt (11/14), Dumb and Dumber To (11/14), Horrible Bosses 2 (11/26), Annie (12/19), Into the Woods (12/25)

Tags: Interstellar, Big Hero 6, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, Exodus

  • S. Cam said on January 05, 2014 10:35 AM

    2013 was along the lines of 2012, with many surprises, new records and new disappointments. What one can obviously realise is that it had a quite powerful slate of films. However, this is not the case in 2014. Not many franchises have a sequel scheduled for this year and, most noticeably, Pixar isn't releasing any animated films.

    1. The Hobbit: There and Back Again $1120 million
    2. Transformers: Age of Extinction $960 million
    3. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 $855 million
    4. How To Train Your Dragon 2 $770 million
    5. The Amazing Spider-Man #2 $735 million
    6. Captain America: The Winter Soldier $620 million
    7. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes $560 million
    8. X-Men: Days of Future Past $540 million
    9. Rio 2 $535 million
    10. Maleficent $455 million
    10. Mr. Peabody and Sherman $455 million

    12. Guardians of the Galaxy $420 million ($170M+$250M)
    13. Big Hero 6 $380 million ($150M+$230M)

    Similarly to 2013, there is only one certain billion-dollar candidate, 'The Hobbit: There and Back Again' which is the final installment in Peter Jackson's prequel trilogy. The series started with lower momentum than expected but Warner Bros learned its lesson and increased the stakes for 'Desolation of Smaug'. That will probably still fail to save this second part of the trilogy from diminished grosses. However, historical comparisons suggest that the third installment will score higher than its predecessor. A lack of significant competition will definitely help, as will a guaranteed boost of foreign returns (NA: $300 million, outside: $820 million). However, there is another film with chances of reaching $1 billion, although it may be long-shot. Coming out this summer, still the most successful time of the year for the movie industry, it is no other than 'Transformers: Age of Extinction', the fourth entry in Michael Bay's alien robot franchise. The new cast and characters and the fact that the film is a reboot of sorts will greatly decrease the general interest. Asian and Latin American audiences, though, will be no less than enthusiastic about this 3-D pic, but maybe not enough to compensate for Europe's and North America's 3-D neglecting audiences. Not to mention that franchise fatigue may be finally setting in (NA: $250 million, outside: $710 million).

    The most desperate film to 'break the B' is none other than 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1'. Its predecessor, 'Catching Fire', was critically acclaimed and highly commercially successful. Despite not topping a billion dollars, it definitely demonstrated the immense popularity of the series. However, overseas growth wasn't as big as expected. The third and penultimate chapter to this franchise doesn't seem to have better chances, but with no 'Thor: The Dark World' hanging around as a potential option for males, 'Mockingjay - Part 1' has a great shot at getting closer to $1 billion than its predecessor. (NA: $405 million, outside: $450 million).

    Lower down, there is a battle between superheroes. 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' is the foreseeable winner for various reasons. Spider-Man is Spider-Man, so even the lukewarm reception of the first chapter in the scheduled four-part series won't stop audiences from swarming into cinema theaters around the world for the reboot sequel. Even so, Spidey is facing tough competition from 'Cap 2', 'Days of Future Past', 'Godzilla' and other summer films and unfortunately it doesn't feel like the ultimate cinematic event of the summer anymore (NA: $235 million, outside: $500 million). Opting for a release in early April, 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' will avoid competition from 'Spidey 2', 'Days of Future Past' and other summer films. Of course, the 'Avengers' effect guarantees a worldwide total higher than $500 million, but anything earned in excess of that number really has to do with audience reception and competition. Other Marvel films have been quite entertaining overall, as audience ratings indicate, so an (expected) rigorous marketing campaign by Disney can turn this into another success (NA: $210 million, outside: $410 million). Finally, 'Days of Future Past' is counting on good will and positive reception of 'First Class' in order to expand its audience and box-office potential. It does have a favorable release date (Memorial Day weekend) but summer is unfortunately a too crowded time of the year. With so many 3-D options, the format will not boost grosses significantly, so this will probably finish in third place among superhero films (NA: $195 million, outside: $345 million).

    Due to Pixar's troubled production, 'A Good Dinosaur', 'How To Train Your Dragon 2' is the only major animated film being released next summer ('Planes 2' is a rather modest, if not minor, venture). It's a sequel to a film that received extraordinary word-of-mouth and had an impressive box-office run. Yes, 3-D was at a high note at the time but audiences have shown they are prepared to pay the extra 3-D charge if there's something worth the money. Plus this film will have very wide appeal among Asian populations. Therefore it is, either you like it or not, a straightforward hit for DreamWorks Animation after a year that was one of its worst (NA: $290 million, outside: $480 million). 'Rio 2' is also poised for a healthy run. Lets face it: some films, including animated ones, can get away even without any quality at all. Everything then comes down to commercial viability so without serious competition this will be another modest, or even bigger, hit for Blue Sky Animation Studios (NA: $155 million, outside: $380 million).

    'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' ranks seventh on the list and appears to have promising potential. The first was impressive in August 2011, finishing higher than $175 million in North America plus a considerable foreign intake. Opting for a July release this time, the sequel will at least match its predecessor in North America, while an increase in overseas numbers seems as a foregone conclusion (NA: $200 million, outside: $360 million). In tenth place, following the moderate successes of 'Snow White and the Huntsman' and 'Oz the Great and Powerful', 'Maleficent' is attempting to at least match the numbers earned by these films. Much like 'SWATH', it's opening on the post-Memorial Day weekend. Given that 'Days of Future Past' will play strongly but actually along the lines of 'MIB3', 'Maleficent' has a shot at succeeding. Although it will be a bit more difficult for Disney to sell it a a family picthan it was for 'Oz', having Jolie as the villain definitely won't hurt. Also, 3-D and the two-week window ahead of 'Dragon 2' will at least ensure a solid overseas gross (NA: $165 million, outside: $290 million). In a difficult-to-call tie for tenth place, 'Mr. Peabody & Sherman' is DreamWorks Animation's spring cinematic event. Unlike 'The Croods', it'll be battling in a more crowded market: 'The Wind Rises' will be emerging from a potential Oscar win, while 'Muppets Most Wanted' and 'Rio 2' won't leave much breathing space in subsequent weekends. However, the premise is more appealing and can connect better with audiences, so anything below $140 million in North America will be a surprise (NA: $155 million, outside: $300 million).

  • S. Cam said on January 05, 2014 11:18 AM

    2014 WORLDWIDE GROSSES (continued...)
    Among other releases, 'Guardians of the Galaxy' may be a surprise hit although the scarcity of info about this movie prevents any reliable predictions from being made. 'Big Hero 6' on the other hand is, similarly to 'The Lego Movie', an attempt to adapt a comic book into an animated film. Marvel's consistency and the Disney marketing machine are things you can rarely bet against but there is always a danger that the film may appear too childish for Marvel fans, yet too violent or just "non-Disney" for the family audiences that Disney usually targets.

    '300: Rise of an Empire', 'Godzilla', 'The Expendables 3', 'Transcendence' and 'Interstellar' all seem as potent action movies which will probably get their fair share a box office booty. At the moment, though, none of them seems like the next break-out hit. The former three will most likely not get through to anyone else except the pre-existing fanbase. The latter two are original films tied to big names ('Johnny Depp', 'Christopher Nolan') but that is not enough to make a film succeed, so we'll have to wait and see how they will play out, as their release dates approach.

    Finally, comedies and horror films are usually ignored when coming to yearly predictions. This is partly, if not totally, justified. For instance last year's largest comedy was 'The Hangover Part III'. And although some comedies do have chances of getting to the Top 10 (look no further than 'The Hangover Part II', 'The Hangover', 'Hitch' and 'Meet the Fockers'), it is rare and depends greatly on marketing close to the release date and word-of-mouth. This is also true for horror movie. Therefore, do expect 'A Million Ways to Die in the West', '22 Jump Street', 'Think Like a Man Too', 'Purge 2', 'Tammy', 'Paranormal Activity 5' and 'Horrible Bosses 2' to end up in the Top 30 or 40 with some getting into the Top 20, but no one can say for sure.

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