Terrible US Baby Names of 2013

6 Jun

The US Department of Social Security just released their annual list of names for babies born in 2013. As is the case every year, among the regular Joes and Janes were a multitude of names so ridiculous, they could all have been replaced with the name ‘My Parents Hate Me’.

One thing to bear in mind: for privacy reasons, Social Security will not release names unless at least five different children were given the exact same name. This means that it’s more than just one weird couple calling their children stupid names like Coal or Blimi (actually it was 11 stupid couples calling their son Coal and 12 their daughter Blimi). That’s a lot of stupid!

One thing the list revealed was that there were a lot of trends when it came to trying to come up with a unique moniker for children. As per usual, there was the tactic of taking everyday words and deciding, ‘Meh – that’ll do for a name.’ How is that done? It’s easy.

Perfect baby name - for a boy *or* girl!

Perfect baby name – for a boy or girl!

Fancy a name for your child that is a rarity, but has charm? That will be the envy of others but bring happiness to your ears? Beautiful, or full of power, or spring to mind images of freedom? There is a reason why US parents have chosen to bless their children with the names they have.

Look closely at the above paragraph, and you will spot 12 baby names that somehow made the list. Go on, re-read it and see if you can guess what they are. I’ll wait.

Not sure? Here they are. There were five girls named Fancy, seven named Rarity and a whopping 26 named Charm. Eight girls named Happiness, six boys named Power, 16 girls named Spring, 17 lads named Freedom, another five named Reason, and five girls named Chosen. I hope you’re sitting down: 22 kids were named Bless, and they were all boys!

And to prove that correct spelling is entirely optional, seven girls were named Envie and 15 called Beautifull. I’m confident that none of those 15 sets of parents misspelt the name by design.

In fact, terrible spelling was another trend that continues after years of the English language being tortured for the sake of differentiating children’s names. Like the name Jason but want to be different? How about spelling it Jceion like 10 couples did last year. Sam a little bit too plain? Try Zam instead. Enjoy the name Zachary but don’t want to be like the more than 5000 other couples that gave their son that name? Give Zaccari, Zacharey, Zackarie, Zacorey, or Zacorie a go. I’m surprised no one’s tried Xachary.

In fact, why not combine bad spelling with random words to create a stupid name double whammy! Sixteen girls last year began their Jurney and 17 are a Trezure. Five are a Cymphony, and five others are a Rebelle (a badass, but feminine!). Eight boys are Tuf, five were called Zepplin, and five will be known as Kaptain until they’re old enough to legally change their names.

Another trend that has been prevalent over the years is to name children after popular TV and film characters of the time. Surprisingly, last year over 60 girls were named after Wreck-It-Ralph’s Vanellope. (Sadly, the register was silent on babies named Wreck-It-Ralph.)

Less surprising, I suppose, is the number of children named after Game of Thrones characters. There were well over 1000 Aryas, 241 Khaleesis, 67 girls named Daenerys, eight Briennes and five boys named Robb. Imagine the carnage if they all met.

Unforgivingly, fifteen boys were given the name Theon. That’s just mean. Of all the characters in the Game of Thrones canon, why hope your child would be like him? If someone ever calls their kid Joffrey they should immediately be placed into custody.

Seriously, don't you just want to punch this guy in the face?

Seriously, don’t you just want to punch this guy in the face?

However, for me, the most egregious crimes were these: 14 kids were called Andrew, and 18 called Isabella. What’s so bad about that? you might say. Sure, Andrew is a proud, traditional name, and Isabella is a beautiful, feminine classic. The problem is, the 14 babies called Andrew were girls, and the 18 Isabellas were boys. You’d better believe those kids are getting beaten up at school.

Probably by those pricks named Theon.


Dirty Sounding Athlete Names – Baseball Edition

12 May

On our juvenile journey to one day reveal the ten dirtiest sounding names in all of sport, we’ve already had a look at ten of the worst offenders in the world of basketball. Today we continue our immature expedition by stopping off in the land of baseball to see what sort of dirty names we can dig up. Spoiler alert: lots. Here are eleven of the best (or worst, depending on how you look at it).

11. Randy ‘Big Unit’ Johnson

I don’t care if you’re 6’10” like Randy Johnson is, if your name is a dirty sounding declaration of your horniness, you don’t then also give yourself a dirty sounding nickname like ‘Big Unit’.

10. Ralph Pierre ‘Pete’ LaCock

Although then again, a sensible nickname like ‘Pete’ doesn’t hide the fact that you have a dirty sounding name, so you may as well go all out. At least having the ‘La’ makes it a little bit classy. Who are we kidding? It sounds like a porn name from the ‘80s. At least he didn’t have a dirty porn mo.  Oh wait…

"I've come to clean ze pool.

“My name is LaCock.  It’s French for… Well, you get the idea.”

9. Dick Padden

The Red Sox are both the team that Dick Padden played for, and what he presumably used to stuff his underwear in order to live up to his name.

8. Albert Pujols

If you just read Albert Pujols’ name off the page, you may not think it belongs on this list. But when you realise that the ‘j’ in this Dominican-American player’s surname is pronounced like an ‘h’, you’ll quickly see why.

7. ‘Cannonball’ Titcomb

Everything about this guy’s name is hilarious. Bonus points to his mother being named Fanny Titcomb.

6. Dick Wantz

Complete this sentence: Dick Wantz…? The answer…

5. ‘Pussy’ Tebeau

Charles ‘Pussy’ Tebeau: a right fielder who only played in two games his entire career, the punchline to a bad Dick Wantz joke, and a man whose nickname was both dirty and the exact opposite of the usual intimidating monikers of the sporting world. Fantastic triple play.

4. Dick Pole

Why don't these people just call themselves Richard?

Why don’t these people just call themselves Richard?

A former pitcher and pitching coach, Dick Pole wasn’t satisfied with just one name being a synonym for a naughty body part, so he went with two. You couldn’t find a more thinly veiled first name/surname euphemism double whammy.

3. Dick Cox

I stand corrected.

2. Johnny Dickshot

This guy was ahead of his time. He passed away in 1997 – a good fourteen years before Snap Chat was invented.

1. Dick Burns

Well, that’s your fault for not using protection.




Bizarre Discoveries, Crazy Exes, and the Worst Use of Fried Chicken Ever

29 Apr

The world is a strange place, which is why I don’t get surprised by stories like these.

The first story is about a 70-year-old Italian man who did get a surprise. The man was feeling in the mood for a little female company, and thought he would hire an escort. In an attempt to be discreet, he decided to look outside his home city of Treviso and find an escort in the neighbouring city of Vicenza. When he met the beauty he received a bit of a shock.

The escort was his son’s girlfriend.

Two things need to be pointed out at this juncture. Firstly, the man did not have a fatal heart attack, which surely would have been on the cards. Secondly, the surprised pair wisely decided not to go ahead with their ‘transaction’.

Given that his son had been under the impression that his girlfriend was a waitress, the man decided to let him know that her employment involved serving more than just pizza and pasta. How did the son react? By fighting his father. Talk about shooting the messenger.

Perhaps the most bizarre part of all is that four years later, the father and son are now in court, because the son is suing the father for injuries sustained during the fight. Finding out your girlfriend is a hooker and getting beaten up by a 70-year-old man? That, my friends, is what you call a bad day.

A little further north, another elderly man made a shocking discovery. Fisherman Bjorn Frilund, 64, caught himself a lovely 5kg cod in the waters off his hometown of Eidsbygda in western Norway. When gutting the fish, Bjorn removed the usual items from its stomach, such as half-digested food, but also removed something he had not seen in a fish in all his years in the trade: a bright orange dildo.

It’s unclear whether the dildo belonged to the fish, the Italian escort, or some other third party, but it certainly gave Bjorn something to talk about at the pub that night. Interestingly, Bjorn told reporters that, “the dildo looks like what the fish eat”. Um, what are they feeding fish in Norway? Or perhaps I should ask what kind of kinky fish do they breed there?

Next time Bjorn, please wear some gloves, okay?

The reports didn’t detail what happened to the dildo. I imagine Bjorn has it tied to the end of a fishing rod in an attempt to catch more cod.

Here’s a tip for anyone wanting to get revenge on an ex-lover: don’t do what Torz Reynolds did. The Londoner had to say goodbye to her boyfriend of two years, Stuart ‘Chopper’ May, because he had to move to Alaska for work. Or so she thought. Soon after their teary airport farewell, she made her own shocking discovery: that Chopper was still living in London, with a girl with whom he had been having a 6 month affair.

Now, it’s fair to say Reynolds made a few mistakes. The first was not changing her name the second she turned 18. (Torz? Really?) The second was dating a guy nicknamed ‘Chopper’. The third was to get a tattoo on her arm that read, ‘Chopper’s Bitch’ (at least she got the apostrophe in there). But her greatest mistake was how she sought revenge on her cheating ex.

Reynolds sliced off her tattoo – skin and all – and mailed it to Chopper.

As Reynolds explains, “I packaged it up so it really did look like a present. I even used different handwriting so he’s have no idea that it was me…I can’t imagine what his reaction was. I wish I could have been there to see it.”

I’m no expert, but my idea of getting revenge does not involve self-mutilation. She didn’t even use anaesthetic! And the worst part is that if her ludicrous actions had any impact on Chopper, she would never know because she wasn’t there to see it.

Photos of Reynold’s ‘gift wrapped’ tattoo. Anyone else surprised she actually got the apostrophe correct?

She says she now has closure, and that Chopper knows “never to mess” with her. Why is that, in case she mutilates herself further? I’m starting to understand why Chopper concocted an elaborate tale of moving overseas to avoid this woman.

Perhaps their relationship would have lasted if this following new product was available when their love was flailing. A florist in Kentucky, US, has partnered with KFC to create a product that frankly should have been on the market for years: a KFC chicken corsage.

In case you are wondering whether your instincts are incorrect, it is exactly how you imagined it: a corsage for the girl to wear to prom that has beautiful baby breath flowers – and a piece of deep fried chicken.

“It goes well with your French fries necklace.”

Whilst your first question is no doubt, ‘Why?’ (if it’s ‘Where can I get one?’ then we have a problem), the next might be, ‘How would you match the corsage to your dress?’ Well there’s good news on that front; the corsages come in Original Recipe, Extra Crispy, or Kentucky Grilled Chicken, so you can accessorise with ease. What I want to know is what happens when you finish eating it. Do you spend the rest of the night with greasy bones dangling off your wrist? Not a good look.

More to the point, what message, exactly, are young men hoping to send their dates with this product? Here’s some chicken to stick to your arm because I know you can’t last until dinner without some saturated fat?

Hopefully the chickens used for the corsages aren’t from Norway, otherwise when the young ladies bite into them, they might discover something inside that will send them an entirely different prom night message.

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!

Movie Predictions: The Biggest Films of 2014 – Part II

10 Apr

In Part I of this post we looked at some films almost certain to top this year’s worldwide box office rankings, and possibly join the billion dollar club. We also looked at some big sequels which should earn half a billion and beyond.

In Part II of this post, we turn our attention to a few other movies that are hoping to give the half billion dollar mark a nudge, including some fresh blockbusters from big name actors and directors, some reboots, some young adult novel adaptations, and a pair of comedies.


Edge of Tomorrow

Here’s a figure that might make your head explode quicker than the bad guys’ hideout at the end of an action blockbuster: $3,213,000,000. That’s how much money Tom Cruise’s films have grossed over the course of his career.   Just in America. I would do the maths on his worldwide numbers but my calculator doesn’t go that high.

Needless to say, whatever your opinion of the man might be, Cruise is as big a box office lock as any actor of the last 40 years. He’s hoping to do it again with this year’s Edge of Tomorrow.

Edge of Tomorrow is a sci-fi pic centring on Cruise repeatedly reliving the same day of a war against alien forces. Think Groundhog Day except if Bill Murray was blasting extra-terrestrials with plasma rays (I’d totally watch that movie by the way). 2012’s Oblivion managed a decent $286.2 million worldwide, and it wasn’t long ago when Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol raked in almost $700 million, so Cruise can still bring people into the cinemas. He’s also surrounded by a solid cast, including Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton and Jeremy Piven, so this film should work.

That said, I think there are too many must see blockbusters this year for Edge of Tomorrow to make a huge impact. It should top Oblivion, but not by much.  Although there might be a huge demand to see Tom Cruise die over and over and over…

Prognosis: This film will be on the edge of blockbuster successes. $300 – $350 million.


Someone else who has been box office gold in recent years is Christopher Nolan. The writer/director’s last three films (The Dark Knight Rises, Inception, The Dark Knight) grossed almost $3 billion between them. Will his latest project, Interstellar, be just as successful?

The odds are on his side. As is usual with his films, the cast is stellar (or should that be interstellar?). Some of the usual suspects are there – Anne Hathaway and Michael Caine – and they are joined by the likes of Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, Topher Grace, and reigning Academy Award Best Actor Matthew McConaughey. That’s pulling power.

The trailer doesn’t give much away, but that’s how Nolan likes it.  Based on resume only, you’d have to assume this will be a hit.

Prognosis: The movie will be astronomical in name and earnings. $500 – $600 million.

Jupiter Ascending

Another sci-fi blockbuster, Jupiter Ascending is the latest effort of the Wachowski siblings. Unlike Nolan, the Wachowskis’ stock has stagnated since an extremely promising start; although 2012’s Cloud Atlas did respectfully in foreign markets, it bombed in the US, barely scraping in $27 million at the box office. Will Jupiter Ascending capture audience’s imaginations, like bullet time in The Matrix? Or will it simply confuse audiences, like the Architect’s speech in The Matrix Reloaded?

It’s not easy to tell. Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis should attract viewers, and the trailers look beautiful, but they also show that the plot is likely to be as unconventional as Cloud Atlas. That might be a problem, given that audiences shunned that film for more familiar and easily digestible superhero movies and sequels. If I had to guess, I’d say the returns will be an improvement on Cloud Atlas, but not in the same class as others on this list. However ultimately I wouldn’t be surprised with any figure.

Prognosis: It could go any way, but in all likelihood, Jupiter won’t ascend all that far. $200 – $400 million.


This one will be interesting. In a vacuum, an action/disaster movie starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Nick Nolte and Anthony Hopkins, with a budget of $125 million, and written and directed by Darren Aronofsky, would seem like a sure fire candidate to make half a billion dollars. However Noah, of course, has an added element: it is a tale lifted from the Bible.

And by lifted I mean ‘the basic premise of the story of Noah has been taken and adapted into an action film’, if the trailers are anything to go by. How will audiences react? Will Christians shun it as blasphemy? Will non-Christians ignore it as a religious film?

Well the initial box office returns have been strong, and the last time we saw a controversial religious film on the big screen The Passion of the Christ ended up being the a huge hit, particularly in the US, where $370.8 of its $611.9 million were earned.

Noah could have bombed badly, and it’s clear that it won’t, but I’m not convinced it will be a story for the ages.

Prognosis: Aronofsky’s prayers will be answered, and Noah won’t drown. $400 – $500 million.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel has been meticulous with their film planning over the last decade and getting the most out of their cache of characters. As we’ve seen, the results speak for themselves, with any recent movie associated with their name coming with a blank cheque from the box office. So it’s nice to see them take a bit of a risk, which is exactly what Guardians of the Galaxy is.

Guardians does not have any of Marvel’s big name characters, and it’s adapted from a comic that not many people have heard of. It is also a little more out there than most of Marvel’s films to date, with aliens that look like trees and talking racoons. So will audiences be interested?

Guessing the ceiling on this one is tough, but I’m well and truly in the camp that wants and expects this to be a hit. If anyone can afford to throw some money into marketing, it’s Marvel, and the trailer looks extremely fun. Chris Pratt is perfect to play wise guy Peter Quill, and the likes of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel voice some of the other characters. I’m saying that Guardians hits the mark as a fun space romp and gives Marvel another hit.

Prognosis: Marvel at this money making machine. $400 – $600 million.

Check back in soon for the next page of this post

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

27 Mar

Captain America: Winter Soldier

Speaking of cash cows, how smart do Marvel look for the way they approached the Avengers franchise? Everything Avengers related has turned to gold, highlighted by the first Avengers film taking in a staggering $1.52 billion worldwide, making it the third highest earner of all time.

It’s worked for the solo films too. The most recent Thor and Iron Man films earned $644.6 and $1,215.4 million respectively, Iron Man 3 ranking fifth all time.

However Captain America: The First Avenger didn’t do quite so well. It earned $370.6 million, which isn’t shabby by any stretch, but not quite as strong as its franchise friends. Can Captain America: Winter Soldier improve?

One thing going against the Captain as a character is that outside of the US, he isn’t very popular. The pro-American elements of the first film’s storyline didn’t help, and this was reflected at the box office. Perhaps the best comparison is with Thor. Both films were released in 2011, and both earned virtually identical amounts in the US. However Thor earned almost 40% more than Captain America: The First Avenger in overseas markets.

It’s possible that overseas markets will continue to overlook Captain America, but I don’t think so. For one thing, The Avengers was released after CA:TFA, and now audiences are more familiar and accepting of the character. Also, Marvel is marketing the movie as a thriller, seemingly dialling down the ‘America rules!’ cheerleading a notch. I think this film will be another huge success.

Prognosis: There’s nothing more American than chasing the dollar. $500 – $700 million.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a surprise hit of 2011, pleasing critics and audiences alike with its unexpectedly touching tale of Caesar the ape, expertly played by Andy Serkis using motion caption technology. The sequel is being released this year, and could well be even more successful.

Caesar’s first tale took in $481.8 million, and there’s no reason to believe the sequel can’t exceed that. No doubt it will also rekindle the debate as to whether or not motion capture performances should be recognised in acting awards. Why not I say – they’re more realistic than some actors’ performances. *Cough cough* Kristen Stewart *Cough cough*.

Prognosis: Caesar’s empire grows richer. $500 – $600 million.

300: Rise of an Empire

The producers made a mistake by not calling this film 301, but otherwise they appear to be on a winner. The original 300 earned $456.1 million, which would suggest that a sequel would break half a billion easily. However given the seven year gap between films, the less than deafening cries for a sequel in that time, and the amount of more anticipated blockbusters this year, I’m a little sceptical about the financial success of 300: Rise of an Empire. It won’t flop by any stretch – especially if the 3D ticket returns are strong – but I see it falling just short of the magic half billion dollar mark.

Prognosis: This will not be Rise of the Box Office Grossings, but it will still earn a dollar for every chiselled ab seen on screen. $400 – $500 million.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

The X-Men franchise has spawned six films in the fourteen years since that very first mutation. Whilst there have been some disappointments (X3: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), generally this is a well-liked franchise full of iconic characters and unusually strong casts for the genre. It is a surprise, then, that while other superhero films routinely break the half billion and even billion dollar mark, not a single X-Men film has earned more than $459.4 million.

That drought will end with X-Men: Days of Future Past. With a plot that crosses multiple timelines, virtually all of the important characters from present day X-Men films will join the characters from X-Men: First Class, creating an ensemble cast of characters and actors that puts The Avengers to shame. I doubt it will earn The Avengers type money, but it will easily be the most successful X-Men film to date.

Prognosis: This film will mutate into a money earning machine. $500 – $750 million.

Log in soon for Part II of this post.

Movie Predictions – The Biggest Films of 2014 – Part I

25 Mar

The Lego Movie was released barely a month ago (it hasn’t been released in Australia yet) and it has already grossed US$391 million worldwide, the highest grossing film of 2014 so far. Clearly it is on its way to smashing past the half billion dollar mark, which got me wondering, what other films this year will reach that financial benchmark?  Will any break the fabled one billion dollar barrier? Of the eighteen films to have grossed over a billion dollars, eleven have come in this decade, so it’s not only possible, but probable.

In part one of this post, we look at the films that will definitely be successful at the box office and threaten to join those eighteen movies in the elite billion dollar club, as well as some big sequels and how much they might earn. Later we’ll look at other films that could be box office juggernauts, including a few dark horses to reach half a billion and beyond.

And just to clarify: this is not a commentary on what will be the best films of the year, just the biggest earners. Although no doubt there will be some overlap.

(All figures are in $US and taken from boxofficemojo.com at the time of posting.)

The Sure Fire Mega-Hits

The Hobbit: There and Back Again


Let’s see.  The worldwide grossing for the three Lord of the Rings films were, in order, $871.5 million, $926 million, and $1,119.9 million.

The first two Hobbit films grossed $1,017 million and $944.4 million (and counting).

Given that pedigree, there is little doubt that The Hobbit: There and Back Again will join its predecessors in earning its producers more loot than all the gold in the Lonely Mountain.  The real question is whether this final tale of Middle Earth can outdo The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, currently the seventh highest grossing film of all time.  Given that There and Back Again will not only offer closure on this story arc, but will be the last opportunity for film goers to enjoy Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth, my prediction is that it will comfortably break the one billion dollar mark. However given that the Hobbit series is slightly less epic than the LOTRs series, I don’t think it will quite overtake The Return of the King. Still, I don’t think the film’s backers will be complaining.

Prognosis: Not even Smaug can prevent The Hobbit: There and Back Again from bringing home the loot. $1 billion +

The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay, Part 1


Following the trend of recent young adult fiction series adaptations, the final book in Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy is being split into two parts. (And like other recent young adult adaptation finales, will include all kinds of punctuation in the title.) Is this for artistic reasons? Um, right – and the Capitol has the Districts’ best interests at heart.  No, by splitting the film in two the makers of this franchise hope to also follow the trend of those films other young adult films (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1; The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1) and earn their way to box office glory.

And it will.

The first movie in the series, The Hunger Games, was a success, earning $691.2 million worldwide.  The sequel, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, was superior to its predecessor in every way, and it showed in its box office receipts: a cool $864.3 million.  The upward trend should continue, especially given Jennifer Lawrence’s current status as Hollywood’s ‘It’ girl, and with Philip Seymour-Hoffman’s tragic death.  Expect Mocking Jay, Part 1 to give the billion dollar mark a good nudge.

Prognosis: When it comes to this film breaking the bank, the odds are ever in their favour.  $1 billion.

Transformers: Age of Extinction

Unlike the Hunger Games franchise, the Transformers franchise hasn’t received as much critical acclaim. In fact, the second instalment, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, was heavily criticised, for everything from its ludicrous plot to its inane humour (because racist robots are funny!)  But that didn’t stop the film – or the others in the franchise – enjoying massive box office success.

So far the films have earned $709.7, $836.3, and $1,123.8 million, the most recent, Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon, being the sixth highest earning film of all time.  Whilst there will be a few changes with the latest instalment – out goes Shia LaBouf and in comes Mark Wahlberg – it will no doubt follow the same formula of lots of action, explosions and amazing special effects.  And Dinobots! It will also no doubt have the same level of success.

Say what you want about Michael Bay, but the man knows how to deliver action blockbusters that appeal to the masses. Transformers: Age of Extinction could be another billion dollar earner.

Prognosis: Autobots, roll out…your bank notes! $1 billion.

The (Other) Big Sequels

Did you notice anything in common with the sure fire mega-hits?  Yep, they are all sequels to successful movies.  Film studios love nothing more than backing franchises that have already provided them with good returns.  With a readymade fan base, and often bigger budgets to produce and market the films, sequels can often outperform their forerunners financially.  That is, if they get them right.

The following sequels will be hoping to break the bank in a big way.

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Animated films are huge business. The second and third highest grossing films of 2013 were animated (Frozen and Despicable Me 2 respectively), and we’ve already seen what The Lego Movie is doing this year.  Earning $494.9 million, How to Train Your Dragon was the tenth highest grossing film in 2010, a year where half of the top ten movies were animated, with Toy Story 3 ranking number 1.  Four years later and How to Train Your Dragon 2 could well break the half billion dollar mark.

With enough time to digest what made the original film so successful, as well as to render the amazing graphics, the sequel (and the planned third movie) should capture audiences’ imaginations just as strongly as the first time around, if not more so.  If DreamWorks get it right, especially given the relatively light animated competition this year, this chapter of the tale of Hiccup and Toothless could even approach the three-quarter billion level.

Prognosis: You’d better train your dragon to fly you to the bank.  $500 – $750 million.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

This one is slightly harder to pick. The 2002 Spider-Man starring Tobey Maguire was a huge hit, reviving the superhero genre after years of lacklustre productions (I’m looking at you, Batman and Robin).  However it was downhill from there, the nadir being the bizarre evil/goth evil Peter jazz sequence in Spider-Man 3 (I still don’t know what they were thinking).  And so the franchise got rebooted a mere seven years later.

The reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man, raked in $752.2 million worldwide. Why then isn’t the sequel in the sure fire mega-hit category?  Believe it or not, the box office receipts for The Amazing Spider-Man was actually lower than all three of the original films, and wasn’t quite as successful as the studio might have hoped for. The cast was solid and it looked great, but the reception from audiences and critics was somewhat lukewarm. Will the sequel trend upwards? Or will movie goers be more wary?

I’m giving The Amazing Spider-Man 2 the benefit of the doubt, at least financially. The trailers look good, so hopefully the movie will be an improvement on the first.  If not, the strength of the trailer and Spider-Man’s inherent popularity should result in a windfall irrespective.

Prognosis: Spidey is your friendly neighbourhood cash cow.  $700 – $800 million.

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