There has been a lot in the news these past few days about how poor the box office was in 2014. I make the case often that people aren’t willing to fork over money for just any movie. In this age of streaming content, Redbox, and the “Internet” (wink wink), people are wanting bigger and bigger spectacles for their dollar.
Take a look at 2014 and you’ll see that some of the best performing movies at the box office were indeed some of the more “You gotta see it in a theater” movies. My top flicks of last year are pretty consistent with that theory. Check out the list here below of my Top Flicks of 2014.
Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson took this Marvel sequel to a whole new level. In Cap’s first outing, it was more a true to the comic book period piece that was fun to a certain extent, but still fell kinda “meh” at the end of it in my opinion. I guess the best description would be that it felt “obligatory.” In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the game was changed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe forever with this one. Instead of a period flick, we get a great espionage thriller with twists, turns, plenty of action…and Anthony Mackie in a flying wing super suit as Falcon. What’s not to love? Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige have a plan and that plan is working like a charm at drawing people out of their homes and into the theaters.
I will be the first to tell you that I was highly skeptical that Disney could pull this movie off. You can’t just take your well-established characters from the stable of animated fairy tales you’ve spun over the course of the past 60 years and make a live-action adaptation work! But it does. Maleficent is one of the most well-known villains of the Golden Age of Disney from Sleeping Beauty, but here we get a more fantastical and juxtaposed glimpse at the motives of the dark haired fairy. Angelina Jolie nails it with a wicked delivery when it’s needed, but she also (thanks to motherhood I think) pulls off the nurturing side as well. Unlike Snow White and the Huntsman, which added plenty of CGI monster battles, the big CGI monster battles in Maleficent at least reflected some heart and didn’t seem as purposefully added solely to add big epic CGI battles. I think the appeal of Maleficent shows now in that she has been added as a heroic character to the Disney Infinity gaming universe. I guess even little girls like a good anti-hero.
As mentioned before, Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige have a plan and are sticking to it. That being said, though, Marvel themselves were surprised at the success of James Gunn‘s Guardians of the Galaxy, a lesser-known Marvel property that when officially announced found itself immediately marked as a “gamble.” Not one, not two, but five anti-heroic misfits (including a talking raccoon) in a big cosmic space adventure flick. It was never gonna work. Well, after coming in first domestically at the box office for 2014, I’d say it worked and it worked well. The movie was so badass and well done that people were, for the first time in a while, going back and seeing it for a third and fourth time at the theaters. I myself saw it 3 times in 3 different theaters. Guardians drives home my point that some movies are just better seen on a big screen and that with the right mix of humor, spectacle, and heart you can have an epic run at the box office. I honestly think people would still be going to theater to see this movie if it were more widely available. And that these days is legendary….like Kevin Bacon.
There were TONS of great movies in 2014. There were some great Honorable Mentions that I hear were great movies but just not ones that I got to see in the theaters like Lucy, Big Hero Six, Edge of Tomorrow/Live.Die.Repeat, and even X-Men: Days of Future’s Past. Again, all somewhat successful in 2014 and all delivering the kind of movie you just gotta see on the big screen.
The most financially successful film of 2014 was Transformers: Age of Extinction (with a worldwide gross of $1,087.4 million, mos of which was overseas), which I thankfully waited till Redbox had it and even then it was with a free coupon before seeing it. The fourth Transformers movie was an absolute abomination of a flick in my opinion and a horrible entry into the franchise (which was downhill after the original Transformers, in all honesty). The reason I mention it now is that it all but proves that people will go in droves to see a spectacle of a movie if they just think they are gonna get a big show, even extremely bad ones like Transformers: Age of Extinction.
With Avengers: Age of Ultron and Star Wars: The Force Awakens no the horizon, I can already tell that 2015 is going to make it a great year for the box office (especially compared to 2014’s low numbers). I know that I sound like a Disney/Marvel fanboy with my favorite picks of 2014, but that is kind of my point. Going to the movies is expensive for me and my family and I have to pretty much base my movie-going budget off what’s gonna get me the best bang for my buck.