Box Office: 2014 Will Likely Be Down, Because Not All Sequels Are Equals
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).