“Mockingjay” and “The Hobbit” look like locks, but there's a dearth of billion-dollar franchise films next year — that's coming in 2015
Enjoy those back-to-back record-breaking box-office years while you can, Hollywood. It looks like the streak will end in 2014.
Sequels drove this year's box office — the top five films were all second go-rounds — and they'll drive next year's, too.
“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay” and “The Hobbit: There and Back Again” will arrive at Thanksgiving and just before Christmas as they have the past two years. And films from familiar franchises like “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (March 4), “300: Rise of an Empire” (March 7), “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” (May 2), “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (May 23), “How to Train Your Dragon 2 (June 13), and “Transformers: Age of Extinction” (June 27) should all do major business.
But not all sequels are equal, and for the first time since 2006 there will be no “Avengers,” “Dark Knight,’ “Harry Potter” or “Iron Man’ movies on the schedule, and that's why most analysts see 2014 having a tough time matching this year's grosses. Moreover, heavily anticipated films such as “Fast & Furious 7” and “The Good Dinosaur” have encountered production problems, forcing them to be pushed back into 2015.
“It all has to do with the number and kind of sequels,” Eric Wold, a B. Riley analyst who projects the domestic box office will be down in 2014, told TheWrap. “Sometimes things just get scheduled this way, but for whatever reason, 2014 looks down or flattish and 2015 is shaping up to be gangbusters.”
But the box office sky is definitely not falling.
This year's grosses were the highest ever, but only by a percentage point. Wold notes that going into 2013, the slate seemed to be a weak one — arriving as it did without a Tiffany franchise like James Bond or Spider-Man. If 2014 does wind up off, it will likely be by a similar margin to this year.
Plus, there's always the potential for a movie to way over-perform, as “Gravity” did this year, Wold notes. Among his likely candidates are Christopher Nolan's “Interstellar,” the Marvel Comics adaptation “Guardians of the Galaxy” and the young adult fantasy “Divergent,” which aren't sequels, but have built-in fan bases of one sort or another. And with China building 10 screens a day and Brazil and other markets fielding burgeoning populations of moviegoers, the global box office will likely grow even as the stateside market cools off.
“Because of the math of all the theater growth in these new regions, it should grow,” Wold said. “It may not be as robust, but it we'll continue to see growth overseas.”
Nearly everyone sees 2015 – with “Star Wars 7,” “Avengers: The Age of Ultron,” a new Bond film and “Batman vs. Superman” — as having record-shattering potential, but that's a different story.
It's early, of course, but here are some trends that have emerged for the upcoming year:
You can't have a franchise without a successful second movie, and several studios will be trying to grab the brass ring with follow-ups to recent hits. They include Sony's “22 Jump Street” (June 13), Universal's “The Purge 2,” Sony's “Think Like a Man Too” (June 20), Disney's “Planes: Fire and Rescue” (July 18) and Warner Bros.’ “Horrible Bosses 2” (Nov. 26). Then there's “Dumb and Dumber To” (Nov. 14) – with Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels in a follow-up to their 20-year-old celebration of stupidity for Universal.
GO WITH GOD
Detractors say Hollywood is filled with heathens. Maybe, but that doesn't mean they can't make movies with religious themes. Prepare to be smote with Mark Burnett and Roma Downey's “Son of God” (Feb. 28), Darren Aronofsky's “Noah” (March 28) with Russell Crowe as the ark builder, the bestseller-based “Heaven Is for Real” (Nov. 11) and director Ridley Scott's “Exodus” (Dec. 12).
SCI FI HIGH
There will be brain modification with Johnny Depp and Kate Mara in “Transcendence” (April 18), wormhole space travel from director Nolan, Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway in “Interstellar” (Nov. 17), genetic engineering from Andy and Lana Wachowski in “Jupiter Ascending” (July 18) and a classic giant lizard in Legendary Pictures’ “Godzilla” (May 16).
BECAUSE YOUNG PEOPLE WON'T REMEMBER THE ORIGINAL
Remakes and reboots are in. We'll see Eli Roth's “Devils Due” (Jan. 17), a Satan's spawn saga that looks a lot like “Rosemary's Baby”; a new “Robocop” (Feb. 12); “Endless Love” (Feb. 14) with Alex Petyfer and Gabriella Wilde; and “About Last Night” (Dec. 18) with Kevin Hart, Regina Hall, Michael Ealy and Paul Patton.
There are many movies that don't necessarily scream breakout box-office hit, but could very well connect. Even if they don't, they'll be intriguing. Here are a few:
In the action comedy, “Ride Along” (also Jan. 17), fast-talking security guard Ben (Kevin Hart) joins his cop brother-in-law (Ice Cube) on patrol to prove himself worthy of marrying his sister.
“The Lego Movie” (Feb. 7) has more going for it than that catchy title. The animated tale based on the plastic toys is written and directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”) and features the voices of Chris Pratt, Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, Morgan Freeman, Will Ferrell, Liam Neeson and Nick Offerman.
Seth MacFarlane will direct and star in “A Million Ways to Die in the West” (May 30), reuniting him with “Ted” screenwriters Alex Sulkin and Wellesley Wild. Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Neil Patrick Harris and Sarah Silverman star, but the last comedy Western to score big was … “City Slickers”?
Featuring lesser known stars of its cinematic universe, “Guardians of the Galaxy” (Aug. 1) will be a test of the marketing of Marvel Studios and Disney. The ensemble cast should help. It features Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Djimon Hounsou, Benecia del Toro, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel.
The comedy “The Interview” (Oct. 10) will be the second film from the directing team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, whose “This Is the End” broke out last summer. James Franco and Lizzy Caplan will star, along with Rogen.
Michael Bay will attempt to revive the two-decade-old “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (Aug. 8) franchise with this live-action reboot. Will Arnett and William Fichtner are among the heroes on the half-shell, and Megan Fox co-stars.