I know that the box office can be a roller coaster of surprise and disappointment - feast or famine - and even predicting the receipts of the present weekend can be a difficult process. But looking forward, it is clear that we've got some major films coming up in the next few years, and I'm going to take a look at a few that seem most probable to earn the coveted title of highest grosser of the year.
2014: Age of Extinction vs. Mockingjay vs. Battle of the Five Armies
Yes this year may have started already so of course I have some insight, but alas, all of our major contenders are still ahead. Let's take a look at each option. Notice how this year's top contenders aren't superhero movies.
T4: Each one is bigger than the last, adding ~250m each new entry. If that trend continues (it won't, but humor me), we're looking at a 1.3b grossing. That'd put the film ahead of Frozen and at #5 of all time. Now, as I mentioned before, it's highly unlikely to improve this much. As each entry falls lower and lower at the domestic. A gross on par with Dark of the Moon seems like a fair estimate, with a bigger star, Dinobots, and expanding Chinese Markets picking up the slack here in the states. Estimate: 1.1b
HG3: Now this film, like the passed two Hunger Games, will be huge here in the states. With both over 400m here, how couldn't this be a sure fire title holder? Well, strangely enough, this series isn't as popular overseas. That being said, it is mounting quite strong fans in foreign markets and this could be the first film to pass 1b. This series has so much momentum, and JLaw is getting more famous by the day. One issue I'm starting to hear about is the fact that the book Mockingjay isn't up to the same level as Catching Fire. While that shouldn't be much of a problem considering the cliffhanger at the end of Catching Fire, don't be surprised if people start complaining up to its release. Estimate: 950m
BofFA: The conclusion to Peter Jackson's second expenditure into Middle Earth, this is going to be big. Recently retitled with a more active title, instead of the more sentimental There and Back Again, this film has a couple things going both for and against it. First, this movie is being touted as the climax for the slowly churning series, with heavy action and high emotional stakes. If we look back to The Return of the King, it became the second movie to ever surpass the billion dollar limit and was heralded by everyone as a masterpiece. This time around though, we are yet to see an Academy interest in the films, and the series as a whole has only been received with lukewarm results. Still, good will from Desolation of Smaug, accelerated action, shortest run time, and the finishing of the book, and we will hopefully see the Hobbit conclusion break 1b again. Estimate: 1.05b
Winner of 2014: Transformers 4: Age of Extinction
2015: Age of Ultron vs. Star Wars 7 vs. Mockingjay pt.2
This year seems to be the most charged year on the horizon, looking both forward and backward. First I feel I should address the honorable mention Bond 24, having strong pull, but... well just look at the contenders again.
AoU: The Avengers remains the third highest grossing film of all time, and Marvel is somehow still growing in popularity. A sequel, featuring even more characters is sure to hit, and this seems like a strong choice, but lets look at some weaknesses. For one, superheroes are really getting their time to shine, but when do we start getting tired of them? While I doubt we'll be over superheroes by next year, we might see their power wane in the on coming years. Next is the villain. This is about Marvel as a whole, who hasn't been very good with villains lately. Electro, the Winter Soldier, that dragon guy in Iron Man 3, that elf wizard that was in Thor... The last good villain they had was Loki, and these might start building up into a running gag that Marvel can't make a good villain. Still, this film has tremendous power. Estimate: 1.4b
SW7: Everything that happens in regards to this film is instantly front page news. They spotting a circular prop in the desert? Jump to conclusions! They offer one person a chance at being in the movie? Notify the President! This movie's sheer excitement factor alone should win in the title. But if movies like Pacific Rim of Star Trek Into Darkness have shown us anything, it's that hype doesn't directly equal box office. Though the vile taste the prequels still sits in our mouth, this movie draws attention for the hope it has incited. People are trusting of Abrams and excited (for the most part) about the cast. The prequels seem to be a low bar than almost anything can exceed, as well as a cause of this lust for more. Stars Wars will always gargantuan franchise that accepts all without making you look nerdy, and it's this wide appeal that I think it gains an advantage from. If Phantom Menace was capable of collecting nearly 1b in its initial run, I estimate around 1.55b
HG4: Lastly, we have the conclusion to the vastly popular Hunger Games franchise. Hopefully, it continues to climb in popularity overseas to match it's domestic appeal. I guess this all depends on how part one is received, but I can't see this not finally breaking the 1b roof for the series. Estimate: 1.05b
Winner of 2015: [Star Wars: Episode VII](movie:711158)
2016: Dawn of Justice vs. Avatar 2
This year sees a relaxing of the hero heavy years past, and the return of long stalled continuations. Let's take a look.
MoS2: Quite a controversial film, with so many peculiar casting choices that we really don't know what to think anymore. With Affleck, Gadot and Eisenberg, this movie will attract people through its curiosity. Still, looking at Man of Steel's weak performance and mixed reception, even adding Batman and a Justice League tie-in can't save this. Plus it'll be going toe to toe with Captain America 3 on opening weekend, and Winter Soldier actually did better than Man of Steel, so putting them in direct competition can only lead to trouble. Estimate: 800m
Avatar 2: Sequel to the highest grossing film of all time, and by a lot too, with a nearly 700m barrier to the next movie, this film has some big shoes to film. This film does have a few barriers to overcome though. While the first film was a revolution in motion capture and 3D, these technologies haven't been much of a draw lately, save for films like Gravity, and this film will really need to bring it to draw those audiences merely there to experience the immersive filming. We are also seeing an increase in extra terrestrials in these years, with Star Wars 7, another Star Trek, Guardians of the Galaxy, etc, and the Na'vi may not be alone anymore. Still, you could take away this films record breaking domestic run and it still would've been the highest grossing film ever (at the time, but Titanic's rerelease just barely topped it). And the foreign market is always expanding, and Avatar 2 will probably top foreign charts again, especially in China, where it became the highest grossing film there. Estimate: 2.9b
Winner of 2015: Avatar 2. Sorry, but we'll need to wait until more movies are announced for 2016 before this can accurately look at the year as a whole.
Summary: We are in for a heck of a few years to come. And while all these current fads and revived franchises, are stealing the spot light, Avatar looks to become our generations Star Wars and blows passed all other competition.
On a side note, I'd like for you all to realize these are all sequels, and that's scary. I don't know if it's because it takes longer to understand original films, or they are a dying breed, you never know what originals could go "Frozen" on us an destroy at the box office with no warning.
Thanks for ready, and please comment if you have any differing predictions of elaborations!