People are just not going to the movies as much as they used to. With bigger, better, and cheaper options at home, 2014 had the lowest number of movie tickets sold since 1995. That’s in the past now though. As we begin the 2015 movie season there is a ridiculously large number of films that are all but guaranteed to draw the crowds to the theaters like nobody’s business.
While not as big as some of the other films on this list, the adaptation of the oft discussed erotic novel is a bit of a dark horse. (See what I did there?) Coming out on Valentine’s Day, during a time of year when not much else is in theaters, can’t hurt its chances to make a big splash early on. While early buzz is mostly negative, the fact remains that the novel sold over 100 million copies and those kind of numbers can’t be ignored. Bloomberg predicts it will be a record setting box office with nearly $90 million in the US and Canada over the four day weekend. It’s pretty much guaranteed to be the first 2015 release to cross the $100 million threshold, so that’s why it’s starting off this list. Look for my review this weekend.
Update 2/17/15: Despite it being a truly awful film (review), Fifty Shades set new records taking in over $93 million domestic, and an astounding $172 million elsewhere over the four day weekend. Amazingly, however, Spongebob, still going strong since the previous weekend, beat it to the $100 million mark.
Update 5/11/15: Fifty Shades of Grey has ended it’s theatrical run with a domestic total of $166,167,230 and a worldwide take of $569,651,467.
What started off as a somewhat generic car chase action film has grown into a monster of a franchise. From the fourth film on, each sequel has earned more than the one before it, and I don’t see why this would be any exception. Fast and Furious Six was one of the most entertaining films I’ve ever seen as this franchise really hit its stride. Riding high on the success of the previous film, this entry will benefit from a great marketing campaign that promises even more insane car action. Paul Walker‘s untimely death also has people’s attention with this serving as his farewell performance. People are going to want to say goodbye on one final ride with his beloved character. It should easily open north of $100 million and could even possibly push the final domestic total over the $300 million mark for the first time in the franchise.
Update 4/7/15: Setting all sorts of records, Furious 7 has opened to $147,187,040. That puts it in the top ten opening weekends of all time and it’s looking like the film could even hit the billion dollar mark worldwide by the time all is said and done. Fantastic!
Update 6/23/15: Furious 7 has ended its theatrical run just inches away from taking the number three worldwide box office spot away from the first Avengers film. With $351,032,910 domestic and $1,160,495,000 overseas for a worldwide total of $1,511,527,910, it was bigger than anyone could have predicted.
Update 6/24/15: Oops, look like I spoke too soon! With updated foreign numbers now at $1,169,000,000, Furious 7‘s worldwide take of $1,520,032,910 puts it ahead of The Avengers total, becoming the third highest grossing film ever, worldwide.
Update 6/25/15: Hmm, the numbers have dropped back down. Whether it ends up at number three or number four though, this has been, ahem, one wild ride.
Update 7/15/15: After what seems to be a final tally of foreign numbers, it appears that with a total worldwide take of $1,520,593,707 does allow it to just squeak by The Avengers to take the title of third highest grossing film worldwide.
Update 7/21/15: I don’t know why the numbers seem to keep fluctuating on this one, but they are back down and seem to staying there at $1,511,726,205.
This is one of the easiest films to predict as a smash hit this year. The Avengers is the only film in US history to open with over $200 million in the first weekend. Ending with over $600 million, the number three spot of all time, and nearly universal acclaim, it was a behemoth of a movie. With Guardians of the Galaxy proving that the Marvel brand is just as strong, if not stronger, today, there is no reason Avengers 2 shouldn’t match the success of the first. Everyone is going to see this movie.
Update 5/5/15: For a number of reasons, Age of Ultron fell short of of The Avengers‘ record opening, but still claimed the number two spot of all time with $191,271,109 domestic and is already at $630,271,109 worldwide. (Review)
Update 9/22/15: I’ve been behind on my movie news so this comes a bit late, but Age of Ultron ended it’s domestic run on July 16 with $458,793,291, giving it a not-quite-as-massive-as-the-first-one worldwide total of $1,402,593,291.
This is a bit of an unknown quantity. While the original Mad Max films didn’t exactly do gangbusters at the box office in their day, they have something of cult following and are heavy on the nostalgia factor. This sequel/reboot has a well known and liked cast and looks like it is bringing more of what people liked about the originals, but in a bigger way. The trailer makes it look like The Fast and the Furious in a future dystopia – a formula that could make this a surprise hit.
Update 5/19/15: One of the best reviewed movies, ever, Fury Road stands at 98% right now on Rotten Tomatoes with an almost unthinkable 230 fresh reviews, and only four rotten. Its R rating makes the box office climb a bit more difficult, but $45,428,128 is nothing to sneeze at, and the amazing word of mouth should guarantee it remains strong for some time. (Review)
Update 9/29/15: After an IMAX re-release, Fury Road finally ended its epic run with $153,636,354 domestic and $374,736,354 worldwide.
A bit of counter programming to Mad Max, Pitch Perfect 2 is another sequel to a cult classic, though this one is much more recent. While the first film had a relatively modest box office take in 2012, it has since become a beloved comedy finding new audiences through DVD and VOD. It’s a unique comedy that has a lot of people looking forward to the next entry which is also Elizabeth Banks‘ directorial debut. It has the potential to this year’s comedy sleeper hit.
Update 5/19/15: The number one movie in America right now, Pitch Perfect 2 opened to a fantastic $69,216,890, which is already more than the first film made in its entire theatrical run. It should have no problem at all becoming yet another hundred million dollar film this year. (Review)
Update 9/22/15: After ending its domestic run on July 30, Pitch Perfect 2 ended up with $183,785,415 at home for a worldwide total of $285,165,784. That more than doubles what the original took in!
An original film from the minds of Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof, starring George Clooney, and inspired by a Disney attraction. That should get your attention. Brad Bird brought you The Incredibles and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. Disney attractions brought you Pirates of the Caribbean. This could be a huge success or a huge dud, and not much is known about the film yet aside from a few cryptic trailers. It definitely has potential to be this year’s big original film – pretty much everything else on this list is either an adaptation or sequel of some sort or another. This is one to keep our eyes on.
Update 5/26/15: While not a complete flop, Tomorrowland opened to lackluster reviews and an uninspiring four day weekend total of $42,679,200. It could struggle to even break the 100 million mark if the lackluster reception is any indicator, though there is not much in the way of family oriented competition at the moment.
Update 9/22/15: Never getting past the 100 million milestone, Tomorrowland ended its run at a disappointing $93,436,322 domestically. Overseas it didn’t do much better and had a final total of $208,636,322 worldwide.
Yes the sequels to the original hit declined in quality and box office take. Let’s not forget how much we all loved the original though, which, adjusted for inflation, made over $700 million at the box office, at that was before IMAX 3D premiums were in play. The nostalgia factor is big here, the director has a lot of geek-cred coming off his sci-fi indie hit, Safety not Guaranteed, and Chris Pratt, America’s new favorite action hero, is starring. The trailers look great, and the story is intriguing. Even in a summer full of other huge movies, this could easily be one of the biggest.
Update 6/16/15: Well, I figured it would be big, but I don’t think anyone realized that the box office would be bigger than the reptilian stars themselves. Now that the dust has settled Jurassic World lays claim to the biggest North American debut weekend ever ($208,806,270), biggest overseas debut weekend ever ( $315,300,000), and the biggest total take worldwide for an opening weekend ($524,106,270). It’s the first film to take in over a half billion dollars opening weekend worldwide, and has propelled Universal into the record books by making it the fastest studio to hit the $3 billion mark for the year. If audience reactions (I loved it) are any indicator, it’s just getting started.
Update 11/23/15: Finally ending its gigantic run, Jurassic World ended with $652,198,011 at home and $1,668,912,312 total.
Pixar used to be the undisputed king of the animation world. Even though 2010’s Toy Story 3 was a sequel, it remains of the best reviewed films of all time. And then we got another sequel – Cars 2 – that was not only it’s worst reviewed film, it actually dipped into the “rotten” category on Rotten Tomatoes. That was followed by the mediocre Brave and the prequel Monsters University which was also less than amazing. Last year, for the first time in what seems like forever, we got no Pixar movie at all. People are worried that the studio has lost its mojo and also starved for something new and original from them. This year we get two original Pixar films, the first of which is bound to draw the crowds for the previously mentioned reasons. Inside Out looks great from early trailers, it’s an original story, and it is written and directed by the legendary Pixar god, Pete Docter. It is sure to have families in theater seats no problem.
Update 6/23/15: With a North American take of $90,440,272, Inside Out had the second best opening of any Pixar movie, just below Toy Story 3, and the highest ever opening for an original non-sequel film. With great reviews and positive word of mouth, it should stay strong these coming summer weeks.
Update 12/11/15: $356,461,711 at home and a worldwide total of $851,633,930 has made Inside Out not one of the top animated films of all time, but one of top movies ever as well. Well deserved!
Another reboot/sequel to a nostalgic franchise. Even the disastrously reviewed Terminator Salvation did over $100 million on the strength of the brand. The question is, however, are people finally tired of the franchise, and even if they’re not, is this going to be good enough to become the hit it has the potential to be? It’s too early to tell, but it should have at least a decent opening weekend if nothing else.
Update 7/13/15: Well, looks like people might finally be tired of this particular franchise, with a dismal opening of only $27,018,486. It doesn’t help that despite being a pretty fun flick, it’s really not that great of a movie. Now, a week later, it has an estimated worldwide total of $224,818,000, which is certainly less than hoped for.
Update 9/22/15: Despite only scraping up $89,760,957 here at home, with a worldwide take totaling $440,160,957 it looks like this was a success in the end, and the sequels are on the way.
Despicable Me was an undeniable hit, raking in over $250 million at the US box office. The sequel was an even bigger hit, making over $100 million more than the first. And they were good movies to boot. Most people’s – at least kids – favorite thing about those movies were the odd little yellow minions who talk in gibberish, and now they’re getting their own movie. You don’t have to be a rocket surgeon to add up that math.
Update 7/13/15: Minions opened with the second highest box office for an animated film ever, taking in $115,718,405 domestically, and already sits at just over $400 million worldwide.
Sure, Ant-Man is a bit of an obscure property. He’s a bit on the odd side and certainly doesn’t have the draw of Tony Stark or Steve Rogers as far as superheroes go. But remember, Marvel gave us a talking space raccoon and mostly mute Ent last year and audiences ate it up. Unless this is their first major misstep, it’s going to make serious bank on the Marvel name alone. Even the weakest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (The Incredible Hulk) made well over $100 million, and that was long before the MCU had solidified itself in movie history like it has now.
Update 7/21/15: Ant-Man had the lowest opening for a Marvel Cinematic Universe film, save for the oft forgotten The Incredible Hulk. It was never going to be as big a film as some of its companions, but that still has to be a tad disappointing. Still, with $57,225,526 at the box office and solid reviews as well as audience reactions, it’s certainly not going to end up a failure by any stretch of the imagination and has already taken in $113,625,526 total worldwide.
Update 12/11/15: Although it ended its run with the third lowest box office take in the MCI, Ant-Man still wound up with $180,157,877 domestically and a $518,585,208 worldwide total. Not a runaway success, but still a solid hit.
Mission: Impossible 5 – July 31
We don’t even have a poster for this one yet, but it’s been moved up for early release to avoid competition with what’s coming in December. Yes, that. No matter, it should do great business as a summer blockbuster all on it’s own. Tom Cruise showed he still has the goods in the criminally underrated Edge of Tomorrow and the well received Ghost Protocol in the MI franchise made over $200 million, proving people are still fans of Ethan Hunt. I know I’m not the only one looking forward to seeing this one, and that means another healthy box office take.
Update 9/22/15: While I missed this opening due to the birth of my son, many of you didn’t, as evidenced by the opening weekend of $55,520,089. It currently sits at $191,695,570 at home and has a worldwide total of $656,395,570, just below Ghost Protocol‘s #1 take.
Update 11/17/15: Rogue Nation finished its run in October with $195,042,377 at home for a worldwide total of $682,293,528
The franchise that began – and still rules – the young adult dystopia craze, is coming to an end. With “only” $330+ million dollars at the domestic box office, Mockingjay, Part 1
is still the number one movie to come out in 2014 (American Sniper ended up dethroning it after a successful run stretching into 2015) despite not crossing the $400 million mark like the previous two entries. A slight dip is not unexpected when the final chapter is broken into two parts, however, and the final film promises to be one of the major event movies of this year. It should easily shoot back past the 400 mark and my guess would be that it takes the number one spot in the franchise. Even if it doesn’t, this is going to be a huge film, though some of its box office numbers won’t be seen until 2016 because it’s coming out towards the end of the year.
Update 11/23/15: Sequel fatigue? Not a failure by any means, but bit of a let down considering, the final installment of the Hunger Games franchise only just eeked into $100 million territory this opening weekend. It took in $102,665,981 domestically this weekend despite being the best in the series.
The Good Dinosaur – November 25
We’re treated to an unprecedented second Pixar film this year. And it’s original. As long as Inside Out proves the brand is still worth something (and I have every reason to believe it will), audiences should love having the opportunity to enjoy a second Pixar film in 2015. Maybe this won’t make as big a splash as some of the others on the list, but don’t underestimate the power of quality children’s programming, especially when Pixar traditionally provides something adults enjoy also.
Update 12/11/15: Pixar‘s first real disappointment, The Good Dinosaur has generated weak reviews and weaker box office mojo. Opening to only $39,155,217 at home, it has only managed $134,563,791 worldwide, still a ways away from the $100 million mark at home. It’s shaping up to be the animation studio’s first financial failure.
This is it. We have a new Star Wars film coming out this year – one people are actually excited for. It looks terrific. And it’s Star Wars. And it is coming out this year. Despite the mostly disastrous prequels, this is still a $2 billion franchise in movie ticket sales alone, and most people expected the disappointing episodes I, II, and III to be the last we would see of it on the big screen. It would take a lot to dethrone James Cameron’s Avatar to take the number one spot of all time, but if any film could do it, this could be it. It probably won’t, but it is still going to be gigantic. Even though only two weeks worth of box office take will count for 2015, it doesn’t matter. It will make more in those two weeks than most films ever make in their entire run. There’s no such thing as a sure thing, but this and the previously mentioned Avengers sequel are about as close as you can get. Star Wars. What better movie to close out this epic year of film.
Update 12/18/15: How big is this movie going to be? It smashed the record for Thursday night preview showings with $57 million. The previous record was $43.5 million set by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. It’s going to be an interesting weekend at the box office!
And that’s it. There are probably one or two movies here that end up falling below expectations – there’s no way to predict for sure – but there are probably a few films coming out this year that could easily replace them as surprise hits. Until I saw it, I thought Jupiter Ascending ($183,887,723 worldwide) could have been one of those. But original sci-fi like Chappie (only $102,069,268 worldwide) and Ex-Machina (a relatively paltry $36,869,414 worldwide, but still profitable and garnering awards buzz) could have their year.
As much as I don’t like Melissa McCarthy, Spy ($235,666,219 worldwide) has every possibility of being this year’s Bridesmaids. Kingsmen: The Secret Service (updated with review, final worldwide take $414,351,546) has great potential if it finds the right audience, and the sequel to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (review now available) is on its way also (final worldwide take, only $85,978,266). A Magic Mike sequel (updated with review, final worldwide take, $117,813,057), new Transporter movie (just $72,629,670 worldwide), Paul Blart 2 (final worldwide take, $107,275,897), and The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials (my review now available) are also on the calendar. That’s not even mentioning a new Fantastic Four film (a fantastic flop that still managed $167,977,596 due to moderate overseas success), new James Bond movie, and even more. Suffice to say, this should be a huge year at the movies, and I can’t wait. 2015 is going to be the year of the blockbuster.
So, what movies did I leave out? What am I totally wrong about? Which 2015 movies are you looking forward to the most, and which could you do without? Sound off in the comments!
(Box office data via BoxOfficeMojo.com)