Read on to learn whether our Big Movie Questions of 2014 might need to be re-titled 'Top Movie Questions of 2015.'
With 2013 in the books, we're continuing a tradition here at SJF by looking forward to the big movie questions of 2014. And while last year provided us with entertaining answers to the questions we posed back in February, 2014 looks to have just as many. Without any fanfare whatsoever, we now present the Big Movie Questions of 2014.
Is 2015 already eclipsing 2014?
Take a look at 2015, and you'll see what could be the most impressive list of films to come in a single year: The Avengers: Age of Ultron, the as-yet-untitled Batman/Superman movie, Fast 7, and Mission: Impossible are but a few. Moviegoers are salivating for these tentpole titles, while ignoring the potentially bigger releases of 2014, including Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Maleficent, and X-Men: Days of Future Past. These are just the tip of the iceberg, with many of these titles premiering in the Summer. We've left out Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Godzilla (which will be discussed later), The Amazing Spider-man 2, Sabotage, The Hobbit: There and Back, and literally a dozen others. But although 2014 promises to give us several memorable releases, will moviegoers drink that Kool-Aid and keep the theaters from being mausoleums in the first two quarters?
Will comic book movies continue to dominate?
For fans of comic books, this is a golden age indeed. In no other time have we seen so many releases and so much buzz about future projects fueling our water cooler discussions. But it's not just Marvel that's hopped on the wagon, but others are trying to cash in with their own titles. Sony's The Amazing Spider-man 2 looks more compelling than its predecessor and Days of Future Past brings two universes together with a cast that's a whos-who of Hollywood. And with the aforementioned Winter Soldier starting things off in April, we don't have long to wait. With news of Netflix getting in the comic book game and talks of other studios developing properties (see our next question), is all of this overkill, or will this age of comic book films soar through 2014 and beyond? We'll have to wait what you guys tell us with ticket sales.
Who will win the animation battle of 2014?
This will be the first year in many that Pixar hasn't released an animated movie, with The Good Dinosaur shelved until further notice. Considering the lack of interest in its properties since 2011's Cars 2 and their reliance on sequels, Pixar is not the mega-beast it used to be. The opposite is true over at Disney, with Frozen having absolutely dominated last year's box office. Their purchase of Marvel is resulting in a release of Big Hero 6, and Disney Head-Honcho John Lasseter has certainly re-established Mouse House as the team to beat. We might already have our answer, but SJF believes that another studio like Dreamworks might step up to give Disney a run for its money.
Can 20th Century Fox catch a break?
Poor 20th Century Fox - 2013 was a disaster for them, even though the critically-panned The Wolverine performed very well and The Heat became an unexpected success. But there was the $100 million bomb Epic, along with Runner Runner, A Good Day to Die Hard, The Internship, and The Counselor. But we think that this mass of misery won't continue into this year, with releases including Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Ridley Scott's epic Exodus, and the kid-friendly Mr. Peabody & Sherman, How to Train Your Dragon 2, and Night at the Museum either being produced or distributed by Fox. Oh yeah, there's also this small film called X-Men: Days of Future Past. Of course, anything can happen and Fox has reaped what it's sown over the years, but with its hands in so many impressive cookie jars, Fox should see some of these stick with audiences.
Are Teen Books-To-Movies Still a Viable Genre?
Just a few years ago, BTM's like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings were blazing at the box office. Last year was a different story, with huge bombs like Ender's Game, The Mortal Instruments, and Beautiful Creatures washing up on shore like fallen troops at Normandy. There are always exceptions like The Hunger Games: Catching Fire but those were few and far between. The problem seems to relevancy, in that kids aren't connecting their book experiences with the movie ones, even though several of these enjoyed strong critical success. But that's not the case with the upcoming Divergent, which is receiving little to no buzz, providing an ominous sign that the genre will be left with no stable properties after Hunger Games is over. Divergent will need to establish itself in a way few have been able to - if it fails, we could see this genre literally disappear after 2014.
Will moviegoers wrap their heads around Historical Fiction?
You've read these kinds of books before - major historical events interspersed with dialogue that probably never happened to fill out the tale. With films like 300: Rise of an Empire, two Hercules movies, and Pompeii all headed to a theater near you, audiences will have plenty of chances to consider 'loosely-based non-fiction' in the same breath as 'based on a true story.' The big unknown is quality - like all Hollywood films, the studios can heavily promote these movies, but the real effect won't be seen until theaters see return customers. Unfortunately, these films suffer from a lack of well-known actors, so their challenges become more immediate If Hollywood can generate the early buzz needed for long theater runs, then the genre has a shot to survive.
Which under-the-radar film will be the biggest winner of 2014?
It's nearly impossible to predict which film in this category will arise victorious - 2010 had How to Train Your Dragon, 2011 had Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and 2013 saw Frozen become one the highest-grossing Disney movies of all time. Each of these received next to no interest until their releases became so well received. We think the comedy genre is likely to see a surprise, while the Schwarzenegger action flick Sabotage looks promising, but only because The Governator's stock plummeted so badly in 2013. Immediate releases don't look promising, so we'll have to wait until Summer or early Fall for a winner to emerge.
Which highly-publicized film will be the biggest loser?
My Marvel friends will hate me for saying this, but I'm worried about Guardians of the Galaxy. I'm not worried about the cast which looks excellent, nor do I think the audience's glowing reaction at SDCC was imagined - I wonder whether the general moviegoer will think that an weapons-happy talking raccoon and a tree that says nothing but "I am Groot!" will be worth watching. Will that get tiresome for a kid who wants to see Iron Man show up instead, when very few people know who Star Lord is? I'm the first to admit that Marvel's made one brilliant move after another with their films, mixing cameos and connected stories like Michelangelo mixed paint and wet plaster. But the franchise is only as good as its last film, and GOTG is a very risky move. In short, this will either be an amazing hit or some sort of cheese-ball Iron Man rip-off that will disappear after a short run. Other films that look risky include Godzilla (see Pacific Rim), Maleficent (see creepy ad), and the overly-sexed Nymphomaniac, which appears will be released in both an R and a more explicit cut. We haven't seen a potential NC-17 show up in quite awhile, so this one could doubly fail at the box office.
With so many potentially good films on the way, 2014 could set new records recently established in 2013. But without a clear-cut billion dollar experience (see Iron Man 3) on the way, Hollywood will have to make its money one film at a time, and hope that the slow start we saw last year doesn't repeat or extend into the Summer. Whichever way it works out, we'll be here to report the results.
Got thoughts on these, or do you have different questions than ours? Comment below and join the conversation!
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