Movie Predictions: The Biggest Films of 2014 – Part II (Cont.)

13 Apr

Reboots

Godzilla

As we discussed in part one of this post, there are few safer strategies for profitable movie making than to release a sequel to a successful film, which is why studios green light so many of them (for example, I think we’re up to Fast & Furious 19). The main reason for this is that you can leverage an already existing audience, and expand from there. It’s a similar theory behind rebooting franchises: studios hope that there is a readymade audience upon which to build, and therefore a higher chance of a strong return on investment. There are a couple of reboots coming out this year for just that reason, one of which is Godzilla.

The last iteration of the story of this beloved building-destroying giant lizard was a much maligned and quickly forgotten effort in 1998. Nonetheless, that film earned $379 million (the third biggest worldwide earner of the year), meaning that this year’s Godzilla has every chance to break the bank. The Godzilla character is well known worldwide, and international markets are a lot bigger than they were in the 90s. The floor for this reboot has to be above the last remake, and the ceiling could be anywhere if they get it right. As long as Godzilla doesn’t destroy it first in a fit of rage.

Prognosis: Godzilla will smash skyscrapers and box office receipts alike. $500 – $600 million.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

In 2007, Michael Bay took a popular ‘80s cartoon called Transformers and adapted it for the big screen. He made a ton of money and three sequels, the most recent coming out this year, and so he’s decided to do it again with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Even though Bay is only producing and not directing, TMNT looks like it’s going to follow a similar format to Transformers with lots of action and lots of special effects. Heck, it’s even got Megan Fox starring as April O’Neil.

How will it do? Like Transformers, TMNT will hope to get viewers from multiple markets, namely fans of the original series and movie, as well as current youngsters who have enjoyed a resurgence of the radical reptiles in their most recent cartoon incarnation. However there has already been negative backlash from a vocal number of fanboys, particularly when Bay announced that the ‘mutant’ turtles would in fact be ‘aliens’. Can’t you read the name of your own movie?!? Bay quickly changed his mind with that, but criticism still followed, most notably about the look of the turtles. Nonetheless, I’m sure the film will do well, if not Transformers well.

Prognosis: With two big films out, it’s going to be a totally tubular year for Michael Bay. Cowabunga! $400 – $500 million.

Teen Fiction Adaptations

Some of the biggest movies in recent years have been adaptations of young adult novels, and studios are searching ever more keenly for a successful book series to alchemise into a film franchise. And why not? The five Twilight films brought in almost $3.5 billion, and the Harry Potter franchise a whopping $7.7 billion.  Yowsers.

The problem is, for every booming success, there are dozens of others that rank between middling efforts and abject bombs.

Will there be a new Hunger Games this year, or just a series of fizzling projects that fail to take flight? I think there will be two films that could, if things go right, approach the half billion dollar benchmark.

Divergent

This film is based on the first in a trilogy of dystopian young adult novels centred on a world that divides people into five different factions. The protagonist, Tris, is secretly a Divergent: she doesn’t fit properly into any faction. This means, of course, that the bad guys will want her dead. Oh dear.

There are some similarities between Divergent and The Hunger Games, which is no doubt why the producers took interest, and what they hope to emulate in terms of box office takings. Both have a young heroine, both are set in a futuristic dystopia, and both are based on trilogies that were recently published and successful almost immediately (Divergent was published in 2011).

And if any young adult novel adaptation is going to catch fire as much as The Hunger Games, this will be it (the studios are banking on it – the remaining two films in the trilogy are set to hit screens over the next two years). However that is a very high standard, one I don’t think it will reach.  I wouldn’t worry too much though, it will still make plenty of money.

Prognosis: The future may look grim for Tris, but not for the studios. $500 – $600 million.

The Fault in Our Stars

This could be a big year for Shailene Woodley. Not only does she star as Tris in Divergent, she is also starring in the adaptation of the John Green novel, The Fault in Our Stars. The films couldn’t be more different, however, The Fault in Our Stars following two teens who fall in love after meeting at a cancer support group.

The book debuted at number 1 on the New York Times Best Seller List in January 2012, and the film rights were sold in the same month, so needless to say, the fan base is there. However, generally speaking studios will have a tougher time making money out of a straight romance novel than an action thriller. Still, if the film is executed well, and receives positive reviews and word of mouth praise, it could build a strong audience that sustains over a long screening period. That’s a lot of ifs though.

Prognosis:  $200 – $300 million.

Comedies

A Million Ways to Die in the West

If superhero sequels are the luxury items of movies, then comedies are the generic brands: they are cheap to finance and quick to make meaning that while they usually produce a good return on investment, they rarely bring in huge box office totals. Every now and then, however, a comedy resonates with the public in a big way, and joins the action blockbusters at the box office big boys’ table.

One such movie was Ted, the first feature film by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane. That potty-mouthed teddy bear turned a $50 million budget into $549.4 million of box office receipts. That’s extremely impressive, and MacFarlane hopes to do it again with his follow up project, A Million Ways to Die in the West.

This time, MacFarlane is putting himself on camera as Albert, a cowardly farmer in the wild west who develops a crush on the new woman and town, only for her husband, a notorious gun-slinger, to arrive on the scene.

One thing this movie has going for it is the cast. Joining MacFarlane is Liam Neeson, Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Neil Patrick-Harris, and several other big names. Will that translate into Ted level success? I’m going to guess no, and put Ted down as lightning in a bottle.

Prognosis: This town ain’t big enough for the both us. $250 – $350 million.

22 Jump Street

The only other comedy that has any chance of making significant money is 22 Jump Street. The original movie, 21 Jump Street, was a surprise hit (although it was a reboot of sorts, so maybe that should have tipped us off). Somehow, turning a TV crime drama from the ‘80s into a modern action comedy film – starring a guy who basically hadn’t done a comedy before – actually worked. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill had undeniable chemistry, and they’re back for the follow up.

Unlike action sequels, comedy sequels are hard to get right. Even if 22 Jump Street does manage it, which it well could, it will need to more than double the earnings of the original, which took in $201.6 million. I don’t see that happening.

Prognosis: The sequel’s earnings will jump from the original, but not by enough. $250 – $350 million.

The Scoreboard

We’ve looked at exactly 20 films to see how they’ll fare this year, and if I’m right three will join the billion dollar club, eight will make half a billion, and another four could gross half a billion if things go right. Only time will tell whether my predictions will be close to being correct, but one thing’s for sure: with the amount of money flying being spent at the box office I should quit my day job and become a movie producer.

Do you agree or disagree with the predictions? Any films you think should have made the list? Comment below!

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