NerdyGeek's 2014 Comic Book Movie Box Office Predictions
I think its safe to say that comic book movies are the dominant films in the market financially at the moment and while 2013 gave great credence to that claim, not every film was a smash hit. Kick-Ass 2 bombed hard with audiences and critics and despite great business overseas, The Wolverine was the lowest grossing X-Men film domestically. Iron Man 3, Man of Steel and Thor: The Dark World all did fantastic business though, so we can rest easy, right? It's hard to say how soon major fatigue will set in for these films as more and more are churned out each year and as more and more studios try to replicate Marvel's new team-up formula that allowed them to smash records.
With 2013 about to come to a close, it's time to set up our 2014 calenders and look forward to the coming year, which will include several exciting new comic book movies. Come check out my box office predictions for these flicks and wager your bets for the year!
2014 is a tricky year as it features mostly sequels to established franchises, but also is giving audiences new flavors of the genre with Guardians of the Galaxy. It's a good thing that these studios are learning how to market these flicks well now as each film has separated itself in tone, action and in some ways, thematic through-line; but will that be enough to keep superhero movies in great health for next year? We'll of course have to wait and see but if you're like me -- bored and just in need of something to waste the time -- check out my box-office predictions for 2014's CBMs and sound off below with your thoughts and predictions.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER -- April 4th
OPENING WEEKEND: $70-85 Million
DOMESTIC: $220 Million
WORLDWIDE: $575-600 Million
Excluding The Incredible Hulk, Captain America: The First Avenger was Marvel Studios' lowest grossing Phase One film. It's sequel, The Winter Soldier I feel will have far more accessibility to audiences with the new, more realistic tone and excellent marketing, which has been promoting some substance along with the fun action and comedy Marvel has now become known for. Opening weekend should match Thor 2 just like the first film did in 2011, but subsequent weeks should hold stronger due to Cap not facing Hunger Games-level competition. It's only real competition for the month of April will be 20th Century Fox's Rio 2 although it won't be too much of a juggernaut to severely hurt TWS. Some will argue Wally Pfister's Transcendence will be a challenge but with Johnny Depp's recent track record, I'm not seeing it. With only a $20M domestic increase in total, The Avengers bump was not nearly as strong for Thor: The Dark World as it was for Iron Man 3 in the US; but with less competition, The Winter Soldier has big potential to break out and hold strong for several weeks, before The Amazing Spider-Man 2 releases at least. As for international cume, this is where The Avengers effect seems to be strongest -- Thor: The Dark World had a 40% increase from its first film overseas -- so it won't come as a surprise when The Winter Soldier gains most of its worldwide haul from overseas, despite the "stigma" some will argue a character named Captain America will have on international audiences.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 -- May 2nd
OPENING WEEKEND: $145 Million
DOMESTIC: $325 Million
WORLDWIDE: $830-900 Million
If you asked me to predict this film's box office back in August (the time I did my 2013 predictions), I would have definitely lowballed Marc Webb's Spidey sequel. This is because Sony's early marketing, which focused on just Electro didn't impress me too much. It just looked very run-of-the-mill with nothing new to it. Sony seemed to realize this and with the release of the first official theatrical trailer, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is separating itself from the rest of the pack with a cavalcade of new villains set to appear, a focus on a greater Spider-Man universe and more crazy Spidey action for fans. The first film did not have goodwill going for it. Being a reboot to the hugely popular Tobey Maguire series of films didn't help it, making The Amazing Spider-Man the lowest grossing film domestically by a pretty wide margin, grossing $262M and being extremely front loaded, taking in $137M in its first five days. Thankfully, the sequel has a lot more going for it. It has the best spot of the Summer -- the first weekend in May -- which usually results in big (albeit front loaded) opening numbers. The film is also presenting new villains not yet seen on screen (mostly) and story -- no more origin story. It's first two weeks will be all to itself but will have to soon face Godzilla and the X-Men later in the month but if word of mouth is strong, it will be able to crack $300M. The question overseas is will Spidey be able to break the billion-mark for the first time? It's definitely going to make big bucks; the first film was the second highest-grossing overseas and a sequel boost can be expected for the same reasons I listed before, but one billion? It'll get close, but I'm thinking Sony will have to wait for film three for the big billion.
GODZILLA -- May 16th
OPENING WEEKEND: $50-65 Million
DOMESTIC: $160-180 Million
WORLDWIDE: $400-450 Million
After Pacific Rim being a failure domestically but being salvaged by international numbers, the future of the King of the Monsters in uncertain. Warner Bros. have been promoting the human-factor over Godzilla and have decided to tease the titular character so far, which is a smart move and has worked for building audience anticipation with films like Cloverfield. Key words are audience anticipation. Cloverfield had a strong $40M opening but ended up being extremely front loaded, with that opening making up 50% of its domestic gross -- receiving a "C" CinemaScore. The Bryan Cranston-starrer should open a bit higher than Cloverfield, due to brand recognition and 3D tickets. Godzilla is going to have to really deliver to keep audiences coming for weeks after release, especially as it will be facing X-Men: Days of Future Past and Disney's Maleficent. The best case scenario for Gareth Edwards' Godzilla domestically is probably 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which made $176M. To get these solid numbers though, it will need to hold strong, dropping only in high-40s, low-50s in subsequent weeks after release. It's no surprise that Godzilla will be big overseas, especially after how well Pacific Rim did in China, but will China (and Japan in this case) have to save Godzilla like it did with Guillermo Del Toro's monster flick? I don't think Godzilla is going to break out and it's best chance of success I feel will not light the house on fire due to a budget which is probably in the $175-200M range, excluding marketing costs. The elephant in the room here though is the 1998 Godzilla film, which made it's budget back and did solid business domestically, but was hated by fans and critics. Is there still a bad sting in people's mouth about that film? I guess we'll find out in May.
X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST -- May 23rd
OPENING WEEKEND: $85-95 Million
DOMESTIC: $250 Million
WORLDWIDE: $550-650 Million
It makes sense for Fox to place Days of Future Past in Memorial Day Weekend, they're expecting a big opening on the level of X3's $100M in the same slot 7 years ago. If you haven't been following the headlines, it's quite clear Fox are extremely confident in Bryan Singer's directorial return to the X-Men franchise. From it reportedly being Fox's most expensive film behind Avatar and setting a release date for the next film in the series months before release, it's quite clear Fox are wanting and expecting BIG things from this ambitious blockbuster. Merging actors from the first three X-films with the stars of the First Class film is a smart idea but how excited are audiences to see Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart again? Well, if the reaction to their cameos in July's The Wolverine is anything to go by, quite a bit actually. But that still doesn't hide the fact that after six films, fatigue is setting in for this franchise, The Wolverine was the lowest grossing film domestically after all and that the last time the franchise cracked $200M was seven years ago. I'm hopeful for Days of Future Past though, it has a good chance in its first two weeks to be #1, despite the threat of Angelina Jolie's Maleficent on May 31st and Tom Cruise-starrer Edge of Tomorrow the week after; but if DOFP can open to $90M plus it can probably hold onto #1 given the track record of Jolie (who's highest-grossing opening was Kung Fu Panda 2 at $47M) and stay strong at either #2 or #3 the week after. Internationally, Days of Future Past is set for big numbers; The Wolverine was the highest grossing film overseas and again with the high-concept idea, the film could go as high as $400M. Maybe I'm overestimating but I do have goodwill in Bryan Singer. Yes, even after Jack the Giant Slayer and the mediocre Superman Returns, but goddamn X-Men 2 is good!
TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION -- June 27th
OPENING WEEKEND: $90 Million
DOMESTIC: $295-320 Million
WORLDWIDE: $1 Billion
I definitely think this franchise has reached its peak... domestically. Transformers: Age of Extinction is going to make it to $1 billion for one reason: China. Dark of the Moon is the second highest-grossing American film in the country and exclusive scenes will be shown in China ala Iron Man 3 so don't be surprised when the fourth film in the franchise makes the equivalent of $250 million in the country. Domestically, it might be a challenge for Age of Extinction to cross the $300M barrier, something which each film in the franchise before has done without trouble but will fatigue start to set in? I'm thinking so. While it will have its first two weeks to itself -- which includes July 4th weekend, following weeks it will take a backseat to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Hercules. There is a chance the film could surprise in the US and that fatigue won't set in, it does have Marky Mark and fucking robot Dinosaurs after all.
DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES -- July 11th
OPENING WEEKEND: $70 Million
DOMESTIC: $175-185 Million
WORLDWIDE: $520 Million
Some could say I'm lowballing this one domestically, but due to competition, I'm thinking Dawn of the Planet of the Apes won't have as strong of a hold than the first film did but the sequel will have a stronger opening and that will get it to the first film's tally or slightly higher. With the advent of 3D this time, International numbers will be stronger for the Matt Reeves-directed sequel. Like the first film, the film will be probably have it all to itself for the first two weeks, unless you actually think the Wachowski's Jupiter Ascending will be any type of opponent but later weeks against the movies of the crowded August month will stop it from getting to $200M. Sorry Caesar.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY -- August 1st
OPENING WEEKEND: $60 Million
DOMESTIC: $160-180 Million
WORLDWIDE: $385-425 Million
The wild card of the Summer, possibly the year. James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy is bringing the zany, weirdness of the comic directly to the big screen with no holding back, but will audiences accept it? There are early reports that Marvel are trying to market the space-epic to the widest possible audience and have been working on a trailer for a while now. It's hard to judge the film based on 30 seconds of footage that leaked at Comic-Con, which included test reels and flashes of footage filmed in only fifteen days. A smart strategy would be to start the campaign at the Superbowl and then attaching a full-length trailer to Captain America: The Winter Soldier or The Amazing Spider-Man 2. For opening weekend, I'm looking at Thor, another zany comic book property brought to screen by Marvel Studios. In subsequent weeks it will face Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles -- a film pushed back so many times by Paramount it's like they don't even want to release it -- The Expendables 3 and Sin City: A Dame To Kill For. The former may be running out of steam or could have its last hurrah and the latter I don't see gathering much general audience attention, just from fans of the first film. Aganist all these films, I'm seeing a hold similar to Thor. International is a huge market for Marvel and I see Guardians doing very well over there, it may very well dominate the month overseas and make far more than I estimated. If Marvel can make this crazy concept of characters succeed with talking trees and SMG-wielding raccoons, they truly will be the kings of the comic book genre.
There you go, seven films for 2014. Let me know your thoughts and give me your own predictions in the comments below. Happy Holidays and a happy new year!
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