A look back over summer 2014’s blockbuster movies

It’s time again to look back at what blockbuster films this summer did well or lousy at the box office. I’ve broken them out by “success,” “broke even” (within ±10% of what it cost to make) or “flop” based on total global box office figures, with domestic successes or failures noted. There’s also further statistics listed at the end. A slight change from previous years—I figure while a film could flop here, it could still be deemed a success overall if the rest of the world liked it (see: the series of “Step Up” films).

Anyway, here we go…

Success

  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2: no sign how much its budget was, but that doesn’t matter, as it made $700+ million globally.
  • Mom’s Night Out: It only cost $5 million to make and made $10 million.
  • Neighbors
  • Godzilla
  • Million Dollar Arm
  • Blended: thanks to its overseas take, otherwise it’d barely be above “broke even.”
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past
  • Maleficent
  • A Million Ways to Die in the West: it’s here only because of its overseas take; otherwise it’d be under “broke even” (it made about $43 million domestically, on a $40 million budget).
  • Edge of Tomorrow: like the Seth MacFarlane film above, it’s only here because of its rather large overseas take: $100 million domestically, $264 million overseas, on a budget of $178 million. The rest of the world still considers Tom Cruise a box office draw, I suppose?
  • The Fault in our Stars
  • 22 Jump Street
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2: even if it’s not Shrek or Frozen-level money, $592 million as of this writing (and probably soon cross $600 million) globally is nothing to sneeze at. Like “Edge of Tomorrow,” overseas audiences loved the film more than North Americans.
  • Jersey Boys
  • Think Like a Man Too
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction
  • Chef: while Box Office Mojo doesn’t list its budget, it has met with critical success, so I’ll list it here.
  • Deliver Us From Evil: here only because of foreign box office; otherwise, it’d be “broke even.”
  • Earth to Echo
  • Tammy
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  • Planes: Fire & Rescue
  • The Purge: Anarchy
  • Sex Tape: it only broke even here, but made twice its budget counting overseas totals.
  • Hercules: a flop in the US, but a success counting overseas totals ($71 million domestic, $104 million overseas, all on a $100 million budget).
  • Lucy
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • The Hundred-Foot Journey
  • Into the Storm: a flop here, but a success counting overseas’ take.
  • Step Up All In: while I couldn’t find a budget, it certainly flopped in the US. However, the film likely didn’t cost much to make, plus it’s earned $68 million globally (largely overseas).
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • The Giver
  • Let’s Be Cops
  • Boyhood
  • If I Stay
  • When the Game Stands Tall: it was only released last weekend, but it’s earned back its budget by this point, so should have a bit more box office life to justify listing it here.
  • As Above, So Below: Variety and a few others suggest this might have had a $5-$10 million budget, so its $11 million take on its opening weekend so far puts it here.
  • Lucy

Broke even

  • Get On Up: Wikipedia says its budget was $30 million, and to date, it’s earned $29.6 million.
  • The Expendables 3: The Guardian newspaper says its budget is about $90 million; it’s earned $33.1 million here (and flopped), but $50.4 million overseas, totaling about $84 million.

Flop

  • Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return
  • And So It Goes: Wikipedia claims its budget was $30 million, and it’s only made $19 million globally to date.
  • Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For: Deadline.com estimates its budget at $60-$70 million; it’s earned globally so far $15 million.
  • The November Man: while I couldn’t find its budget, its low opening weekend and likely cost (even with cost-cutting measures) has made me opt to put it here.

Comments

That’s 44 films total. For domestic totals, the success/broke even/flop ratios stand at:

  • Success: 30/44, or 68%
  • Broke even: 5/44, or 11%
  • Flop: 9/44, or 20%

(Yes, rounding numbers resulted in the above not adding up exactly to 100%.)

For global totals, the ratios are:

  • Success: 38/44, or 86%
  • Broke even: 2/44, or 5%
  • Flop: 4/44, or 9%

One can see why international box office has become much more critical to a film’s success, as nearly all the major films this summer wound up being successful with international attendance factored in. Some films are even major global hits primarily due to overseas sales!

And breaking the films out along whether they’d pass or fail “Jay Sherman test” of original films worth paying to see at a theater (domestic totals only):

  • Passed the Test:
    • Success: 23/35, or 66%
    • Broke even: 5/35, or 14%
    • Flop: 7/35, or 20%
  • Fail the Test:
    • Success: 5/7, or 71%
    • Broke even: 0/7, or 0%
    • Flop: 2/7, or 29%

Films that failed Mr. Sherman’s standards (the biggest blockbusters) were more successful than the original film ideas, but not by much this year. Factoring in films that broke even, however, and the original film ideas did better percentage-wise than the ones that failed. Of course, since it’s the unoriginal film sequels/reboots/etc. that rake in the summer cash…

If you’re interested in seeing if any of these films pass the famous Bechdel Test, see this site: http://bechdeltest.com/

Overall, this is the weakest summer box office since 2004 (or, adjusted for inflation, since 1992), with audiences apparently not interested in this summer’s blockbuster fare as much as last summer’s (“Iron Man 3,” “Despicable Me 2,” etc.). I’d wonder if the World Cup might’ve distracted from the lackluster offerings, as well.

As for next summer, a lot of remakes and reboots are on the way, along with the usual Marvel superhero film fare; all the results of decisions made a few years ago I suppose. The biggest films will include “Avengers 2: Age of Ultron,” “Ant-Man,” and the Pixar film “Inside Out.”

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