Saturday 9 August 2014

2014 Blockbusters: Winners and Losers

Now that "blockbuster season" is starting to wind down for another year, I figured it was a good time to sit back and assess the winners and losers from what has been a thoroughly captivating season of mainstream, big-budget cinema (for the most part anyway). 

What films and studios saw their stock rise over the past few months? And who had a nightmare 2014? Check out my thoughts below!


X-Men: Days of Future Past

Bryan Singer returned to the X-Men franchise in style this year - in what was a 'make or break' movie for the series, Singer took the characters he made iconic over a decade ago and knocked it out of the park.

From the meshing of old and new characters into one massive cast to the feverish flicking back and forth between past and future, this latest X-Men feature had audiences gripped from start to finish.

Stand out scenes included that scene between the two Xaviers, Quicksilver showing Usain Bolt how he do in the Pentagon prison break and that thrilling showdown that flicked between the dystopic future teeming with towering Sentinels and the 1970's - which was also teeming with Sentinels come to think of it...

To top off the box-office success were rave reviews; many heralded Days of Future Past the best X-Men film yet and said it breathed new life into the jittering series. All in all, things are looking pretty rosy looking forward for this gang of mutants.

Marvel Studios

Let's be honest - Marvel Studios currently has an infallible track record rivalling that of Pixar in their hey-day. I certainly don't envy the creative team over at DC trying to topple them...

In 2014, Marvel Studios have dropped two massive belters on audiences - we all expected Winter Soldier to be a hit - and it was - but did anyone really expect Guardians of the Galaxy to be as brilliant as it was? With some niche characters and some obscure source material, it was looking pretty risky for Marvel to be blasting off into full-blown space opera, that's for sure.

And then the opening weekend box office numbers (and the rave reviews) rolled in and everyone was laughing so hard at Star-Lord and co. that they instantly forgot this was supposed to be Marvel's first mistake, their black sheep. Guardians was heralded an instant classic with the longevity to charm the pants off of everyone for generations to come. All doubts were cast aside and Marvel breathed a sigh of relief; street cred remained intact and consumer trust is higher than ever. Roll on 2015 and Whedon's second Avengers team-up, Age of Ultron.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Read my Dawn of the Planet of the Apes review

Following on from 2011's stellar reboot, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes took everything we loved about the new series - amazing VFX, three-dimensional characters of both human and ape variety, and emotional storytelling - and polished it into an even shinier and gripping summer blockbuster.

It might not have made a tonne of cash, but the rebooted Planet of the Apes series has just pulled off the rarest of feats in film-making; delivering a sequel which is an improvement on an already brilliant first film. It's up there with lofty company alongside The Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Knight and Aliens. And if that ain't something special, I don't what is.

Godzilla (and Gareth Edwards)

Read my Godzilla review

The King of Monsters ascended his place at the top of the box office earlier this year after Gareth Edwards' rather stupendous Godzilla remake stomped across cinemas. It might not have been perfect, but audiences flocked to see Gojira wreck havoc in San Francisco and do battle with some slimy MUTOs.

It might not have been perfect, but the reviews for Godzilla were positive, and this translated into big box-office takings. A sequel is already in the works and Edwards is attached to direct. Not only that, but he's also signed on for a Star Wars spinoff in the not-so-far-off future. From indie obscurity to franchise movie-maker in a matter of four years - Edwards is without a doubt a big winner from 2014.

The Fault in Our Stars

Regardless of what you think of John Green's young adult novel or the film itself, The Fault in Our Stars has been inescapable this summer.

All of sudden, everybody (regardless of whether you've read the book or not) has heard of Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters.

Now, any casual observer could have told you the film would make a tidy sum of money. What they wouldn't have been able to call is that The Fault in Our Stars would edge out Edge of Tomorrow when they went head-to-head on the same weekend here in Australia and in the US.

Okay? Okay.

Middle Ground

Transformers: Age of Extinction

How can the movie that made the most money this summer not be considered an out-and-out winner I hear you cry? Well, it's simple. The reviews were eye-wateringly negative.

Yep, to nobody's surprise, Michael Bay's fourth Transformers movie was critically-panned upon its release. The bloated run-time, cardboard characters, indulgent action - you name it, critics tore it to pieces. When all was said and done, Age of Extinction found itself slapped with a less than favourable 18% on Rotten Tomatoes. Hardly the future classic you're going to want to show your kids, right?

On other hand, the movie made an unbelievable amount of cash. Over $300 million on opening weekend, Age of Extinction proved that negative reviews don't necessarily translate into a movie being dead-on-arrival. The box-office gross ensures the series will continue, and that Michael Bay will most likely stay at the helm for 2016's Transformers 5.


The Amazing Spider-man 2: Rise of Electro

The Amazing Spider-man 2 is a curious tale - over $700 million worldwide gross, and still many commentators were dressing the movie up to be a flop. It made $700 million! 700 MILLION DOLLAS. That's a lot of moolah. Whatever way you cut it, that's a win.

Or is it? When you tally up the money made against Sam Raimi's original trilogy, Marc Webb's Spidey sequel is still the lowest grossing film in the series so far, and the series is increasingly relying upon international audiences to make its money back. US audiences are losing interest in the series, and slowing but surely, carefully made plans of an Avengers-style interconnected franchise are slipping away from Sony.

In terms of reviews, TASM2:ROE (catchy) was very mixed with some sources praising the dazzling action and many others panning the convoluted, bloated script. It's been a tough ride for Spidey this year, and whether we'll see him again soon remains to be seen...

Edge of Tomorrow

Read my Edge of Tomorrow review

Now this one stings - Edge of Tomorrow, a film that ranks as one of my favourites from this year, very nearly ended up in the red. Seriously. If you've seen this film and appreciate its brilliance, that has got to hurt your very soul.

There's three pretty big reasons why Doug Liman's excellent time-loop action flick flew under the radar of mainstream audiences this year. One, Tom Cruise. The guy is like Marmite. You either love him don't. Like, a lot.

Secondly, the generic and forgettable title. I mean, Edge of Tomorrow? It sounds like a documentary about the year 2030 on the Discovery Channel. It could be worse - TASM2:ROE anyone?! - but c'mon, All You Need Is Kill was soooo much more badass. Why the change?

Thirdly, it isn't a sequel, franchise, reboot or YA adaptation. And that's a big nail in the coffin for a June tentpole if ever I saw one.

This film still ranks in the middle ground because it got such great reviews and energised those of us who actually saw it - but I can't help but feel a little sad about Edge of Tomorrow not making the kind of money its quality demanded.


Another year, another series of disappointments for Dreamworks. After a series of films that range between semi-successful to absolute flunks, they've been having a bit of rough time financially. Turbo, The Croods, Peaboy and Sherman - hardly animation classics right? How To Train Your Dragon 2 was seen as the golden ticket back to brilliance for this studio, but despite rave reviews, the film struggled to detonate this summer. 

Sure, it made money but not Despicable Me 2 kind of money. Not the kind of money that Frozen made (which, by the way, is more than Iron Man 3 or any other film last year made).

Despite being absolutely fantastic, How To Train Your Dragon 2 has 'only' grossed just over $450 million worldwide to date. It ranks behind Rio 2 ($490M, utter shite) and The Lego Movie ($470M, a brilliant bolt from the blue). Not good news for a studio that has aspirations to beat Pixar, and rivals like Blue Sky, at their own game. 


Seth MacFarlane

A Million Ways To Die In The West was a lame duck
Ooooh, snap!
After Ted took the world by storm in 2012, Seth MacFarlane's follow-up A Million Ways To Die In The West, was eagerly anticipated by many. However, it wasn't to be. 

For some bizarre reason, the movie decided to open alongside two other huge tentpoles (Days of Future Past and Maleficent) in the US, meaning that box office takings were poor from Day 1. Couple that with some less than positive reviews and all of a sudden critics everywhere were making jokes about MacFarlane knowing a million ways to die at the box office. Ouch.

I enjoyed it, but audiences take to this Wild West parody. It's final box-office tally sits at $85 million, only double its original $40 million budget (which doesn't account for additional marketing costs). When all is said and done, that's nowhere near the $550 million Ted grossed a couple of years back. 

Melissa McCarthy 

Melissa McCarthy's latest movie, Tammy, hasn't even hit cinemas here in Australia yet and I know it's shite. Released over Independence Day long weekend in the US, this could have been the sleeper hit of the summer. McCarthy is super popular with audiences after her performances in The Heat and Identity Thief, so Tammy looked like it was going to do big business on an otherwise quiet July 4th.

It wasn't to be, and Tammy crawled into cinemas with damning reviews (24% of RT) and a disappointing tally of nearly $90 million. Again, when you stack that against McCarthy's previous movies (The Heat, $229M and Identity Thief, $173M), it's a little disappointing to say the least.


But hey, at least Rebecca Hall is all sorts of purdy? I mean,
that's a plus - right? I'm clutching at straws. This movie sucked.
I was going to put just Johnny Depp under here, but let's be honest - Transcendence was a huge belly-flop for pretty much everyone involved. From first-time director Wally Pfister to Paul Bettany and Rebecca Hall, Transcendence has been quite possibly the biggest letdown of the year. In January, a sci-fi thriller from the cinematographer of The Dark Knight trilogy and Inception was an exciting prospect to say the least.

Ahh how wrong I was. I was so pumped for this film. On paper, the premise was excellent. I was chomping at the bit for J-Depp to get a good role where he didn't have to prance around like a pirate on crack. Alas, Transcendence saw Depp transition from that to an emotionless computer for nearly 2 hours. If ever there was a moment for a slow clap, this is it.

Adam Sandler

Yes! Finally! An Adam Sandler film flunked! The world woke up and realised his movies suck! Opening around the same time as X-Men and Godzilla, this pile of crap only made $1 million on its opening weekend. Whilst Grown Ups 2 inexplicably made millions, Blended (which saw Sandler reunite with Drew Barrymore once again) bellyflopped at the box office after poisonous reviews and a stark reversal of fortune for one of America's leading 'funny man'. Thank the Lord - there is a God after all.


  1. I completely forgot about Transcendence already. Yeah, that one didn't do so well.

    I'm a little annoyed HTTYD2 isn't doing better. It's such an awesome film.

    1. I know right HTTYD2 was a great movie :/ Shame it isn't getting the crowds it deserves. Thanks for commenting Brittani :)

  2. Though Edge of Tomorrow's box office was initially disappointing, I was glad to see good word of mouth help it out quite a bit in subsequent weekends, so it could've been A LOT worse if it wasn't as good as it was.
    But yeah, all in all, it's been a pretty good year so far I'd say, and most of the big name movies really delivered. Good stuff! :)

    1. Very true Chris, on the whole the films this year have been more entertaining than last years. There's bound to be more big films on my end of year Top 10 for sure :) Thanks for commenting!

  3. Great rundown right here! I definitely agree with you on Edge of Tomorrow. It was by far my favourite blockbuster this season. And yes well-said, it probably didn't help that it wasn't a sequel, reboot, or part of some franchise. I didn't get a chance to check out the new Planet of the Apes flick though. I've heard thats a bit of a game-changer. I think we've had a pretty good run this year to be honest. Superheroes, mutants and apes really pulled through this year eh?

    1. Thanks for commenting Angela :) I definitely recommend checking out Apes, it's great. All in all, it's been a great year! A few misfires and disappointments haven't dragged down the overall quality, and Guardians was the real kicker at the end. I'd say that's my highlight so far :)



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