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

13 Apr



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.


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.


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!

Random Objects Saving Lives

21 Aug

Life is a funny thing.  You could be going about your day the same as any other, when danger suddenly decides to pay you a visit.  Next thing you know you are faced with an armed robber, a runaway train, or a horde of sharks pummelling down at you from a tornado.

When confronted with unexpected life-threatening danger, there’s usually only one thing that can save you: dumb luck.  Here is a collection of people who survived near-death experiences with no thanks to skill or quick thinking, but to random objects saving their lives.

The first story takes us to Brazil, where 58-year-old Ivonete Pereira hopped aboard a bus in Salvador, the capital of Bahia.  There had been frequent bus attacks in the region, so Pereira decided to hide her money.  Her caution was justified when two men announced that they were about to rob the bus.  A shootout ensued with a police officer on the scene, and a stray bullet hit Pereira in the chest.  It would most certainly have been a fatal blow…

…except that the bullet struck the wad of bank notes Pereira had stuffed into her bra.

Pereira’s secret wad of hidden money absorbed enough of the impact of the bullet that her life was saved, although she still had to be taken to hospital to have the bullet removed.  It seems that money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you a reprieve from death.  It’s also an alternative to surgery when looking to achieve a fuller, perkier look.

This smart lady is taking sensible measures that could save her life.

This smart lady is taking sensible measures that could save her life.

Amazingly that isn’t the only case of money stopping a bullet.  Elizabeth Pittenger, 22, had just stepped into her truck on campus at Middle Tennessee State University, US, when a man pulled a gun on her and demanded her phone, purse and laptop.  Pittenger refused to give up her possessions, and in an unorthodox move to avoid danger, got out of the truck “to keep a struggle going”.

She got what she hoped for, the man shooting her with a .38 calibre revolver, before fleeing the scene.  Even though she was shot from just four feet away, Pittenger survived, thanks to a random object.  Like most women, Pittenger was carrying an oversized purse chock full of an assortment of items (most of which she probably never uses – am I right?!).  Thanks to being so full of junk, the bullet was lodged in her purse and didn’t even make it through the other end, acting, as it were, like a bulletproof vest.  Some of the contents of her purse included a calculator, umbrella, a sunglasses case, and a bullet.  Accessorising can not only make or break an outfit, but also the trajectory of a deadly projectile.


A typical woman's bag.

A typical woman’s bag.

Juan Camarena was also shot at close range and lived to tell the tale.  Camarena, 54, was sweeping the floor of an apartment building in Harlem, New York, after being hired by the building’s new superintendent.  Unfortunately for him, the building’s old superintendent was not happy about being fired, and showed up to the building to confront his replacement.  Seeing Camarena instead, the man kindly suggested that he, “Get the [fudge] out of here.”  Camarena continued with his work, and so the man pulled out a gun and shot him from 5 feet away.

Camarena didn’t have an oversized purse over his shoulder, or a bra to stuff a wad of notes in (probably) so how did he survive?  The bullet struck his mobile phone.  Talk about a close call!  The gunman fled without capture.  Camarena would have called 911, but…

David Fitzherbert of West London was enjoying a spot of skiing in Switzerland when he almost suffered an untimely death.  He was skiing down a glacier on Switzerland’s Matterhorn when the snow gave way beneath him, causing him to plummet 20m down a crevasse.  He was about to fall through the bottom and plunge to his death, when the gap narrowed.  The gap was just large enough that Fitzherbert would have fallen through, but he survived.  How?  He had his BlackBerry mobile phone in his jacket pocket, and it caught on a ledge, preventing him from falling.  No doubt it was the only time Fitzherbert had been happy to be put on hold.

We've all been in this situation before.

We’ve all been in this situation before.

The BlackBerry was sturdy enough to keep Fitzherbert safely wedged within the crevasse for two whole hours until he could be rescued.  Not only that, but after being taken to the hospital (Fitzherbert broke his jaw, cracked a rib, smashed his teeth, and almost had his nose completely torn off) he was able to use his phone to call his wife and let her know that not only was he alright, he had never been more grateful to be stuck on the phone.

Perhaps the greatest example, however, of being saved by a random object happened in 2011. Israeli “model and actress” (if you know what I mean) Orit Fox was appearing on countryman DJ Shmulik Tayar’s radio show.  As part of the show, Fox was fondling and licking a poisonous snake (as you do).  It’s not clear whether the snake realised it was being handled by one of its mortal enemies – the Fox – or whether it was aroused by the fondling and thought it would reciprocate, but the snake lashed out at the model.

And latched on to her breast.

I know what you’re thinking, and yes, that’s hilarious.  But it was also life threatening; or at least it would have been had Fox not been saved by a random object.

Her breast implants.

Yes, Fox’s ginormous, perfectly shaped breasts were not, as it turns out, natural, and the extra padding bore the brunt of the snake’s fangs, leaving Fox’s breasts untouched (a situation that doesn’t occur very often for Fox I’m sure).

The tale does have a sad ending however.  A few days after the incident, the poor snake passed away, dying from poisoning.  In a complete turn of the tables, the snake was poisoned from a most unlikely source: Fox’s silicone implants.  Yes, the snake punctured Fox’s implants and the leaking silicon killed it.  Talk about having a killer body.

If only the snake had a wad of cash or a phone in its mouth it might still be alive.  Perhaps its memory lives on – as an oversized purse.


12 Jul

The Godfather, Gone with the Wind, The Shawkshank Redemption, Alvin and the Chipmunks: the Squeakquel – what do these films have in common?  They are all nowhere near as freakin’ awesome as a new made for TV movie being released on US’ the SyFy channel today.



As you can probably deduce from the promo poster, this movie is basically a disaster flick whereby an ocean borne hurricane hits land and converts into a series of tornados, each packed with hundreds of sharks, turning them into airborne killing machines.  Finally!

I’m not sure whether this film is based on a true story, or is an adaptation of a D.H. Lawrence novel, but either way I’m sure it will be a classic.  How do I know?  Look at the cast: Tara Reid, aka the blonde from American Pie whose most famous moment since that 1999 film was accidentally showing her boobs on a red carpet shoot and not noticing until someone came and pulled up her dress; John Heard aka the dad from Home Alone; and in possibly the greatest coup in recent film history, Ian Ziering, aka Steve Sanders from the original Beverly Hills 90210 (whose character in this film, appropriately, is named ‘Fin’).  Clearly this ensemble cast puts Ocean’s 11 to shame.

Sure, the movie will probably require more suspension of disbelief than most films, as there are a few slightly hard to believe concepts.  For example, how do the sharks breathe as they are flying in the air?  How can there be so many sharks swept up by the ‘nado?  Why are only sharks swept up by the ‘nado?  And who would ever cast Ian Ziering in a movie? 

But I’m sure you can overlook those small details for the big picture awesomeness because, as you can see from the trailer and elsewhere, this movie has it all:

–        the ominous warning (Ziering to Reid on the phone): “It’s flooding here.  Not the plumbing – the ocean.”

–        subtle irony: the flying sharks claiming their first victims at a criminal business meeting of – wait for it – shark fin soup dealers!

–        sage advice to rally the troops (again, Ziering): “We can’t just stand here and wait for sharks to rain down on us.”

–        creativity: the gang arming themselves against the oncoming sharknado torrent with random items, including a pool cue – an object universally regarded as an effective weapon against a ten ton beast falling at you from a great height.

–        challenges: “We’re going to need a bigger chopper.”

–        solutions: people shooting flying sharks with handguns.

–        and, without doubt, what is already considered (by me) to be the greatest scene in the history of cinema: Ian Ziering, armed with a chainsaw, leaping heroically into the mouth of a flying shark.

No words can capture how amazing this scene is.

No words can capture how amazing this scene is.

Life just doesn’t get better than this.  Enjoy the trailer, and pray that there will be many sequels (Molecano?  Wolfquake?  Lizard Blizzard?)

What ridiculous disaster movie involving animals and natural phenomena would you like to see?  Share them in the comments section below