This week, Deadline released their list of the top 20 "most profitable" blockbusters of 2014, based not only on initial weekend box office sales, but on production costs, total profit and cash on cash return. Arguably, this creates a much more accurate picture of how well any given film has done, rather than just considering box office hype or the overall sales.
The list itself is fascinating, and while some entries are to be expected, there were some real surprises! Here's the full list:
Rank…Movie…Profit (in millions)
1. Transformers: Age Of Extinction – $250.155
2. American Sniper – $242.58
3. The Lego Movie – $229.008
4. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 – $211.609
5. Guardians of the Galaxy – $204.2
6. Maleficent – $190.77
7. Big Hero 6 – $187.339
8. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes – $182.179
9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – $166.224
10. 22 Jump Street – $144.476
11. Neighbors – $136.05
12. Gone Girl – $129.99
13. How to Train Your Dragon 2 – $107.337
14. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – $103.379
15. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – $81.31
16. X-Men: Days Of Future Past – $77.384
17. Divergent – $71.868
18. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – $70.377
19. Godzilla – $52.477
20. Interstellar – $47.161
1. TMNT Beats Days of Future Past
It's no secret that comic book adaptations are the biggest thing at the box office (closely followed by YA adaptions, or at least that's how it seems!), but who would have thought that the critically rejected TMNT would do better than the longest-running live action franchise of the moment: X-Men.
Days of Future Past was hugely popular, due in no small part to that incredible Quicksilver scene. For many fans who had become frustrated with the original trilogy, Days of Future Past was a brilliant follow-up to First Class, continuing the reboot-of-sorts that is bringing the franchise back in line with the source material. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, on the other hand, was plagued by criticism almost from the moment it was announced. Fans ridiculed the enormous CGI turtles, the casting (Megan Fox really does need to stop doing action movies), and well... pretty much everything that we saw. The movie itself didn't impress, making up for it's thin plot with a ridiculous amount of slow-motion. Just goes to show you that quality and profit don't always correlate.
2. The Amazing Spider Man 2 Comes In Last For Comic Book Films
Of the six comic-book adaptations on the list, The Amazing Spider Man 2 came in dead last, and at number 18, barely even made it on. It's no secret that Sony's main superhero isn't doing as well as he should be, with rumors that the franchise will be rebooted yet again, and news that Sony and Marvel have been in talks about shared rights so that Spidey can eventually take his rightful place in the Avengers.
However, I was still surprised to see that it was beaten by TMNT (for many of the reasons that I was mentioned above), and even more surprised that it didn't even reach the hundred million mark. Spiderman is, without a doubt, one of the biggest Marvel characters of all time, and surely that is worth more than 70 million dollars? (Note: In this instance, I am referring to him as a Marvel comics character, rather than a Marvel/Disney character.) Add to that the incredibly popular Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, and I bet that Sony execs were scratching their heads as well.
3. Big Hero 6 Is Second Biggest Comic Book Movie of 2014
While I loved Big Hero 6, and was overjoyed to consider it the first Oscar-winning Marvel movie, the only other comic book adaptation to make a bigger profit than Baymax and his gang was Guardians of the Galaxy.
Now, this may not be anywhere near as surprising as how well TMNT did (financially, at least), but it was still a bit of a shocker for me. For one thing, Big Hero 6 was unashamedly a kid's movie, and while some are huge, films aimed at mini-humans aren't usually dominating the box office. In fact, out of the twenty, only two others are kids movies - and I would argue that The Lego Movie is one of those let's-pretend-it's-for-kids-but-really-it's-for-adults films. Maybe that's just because I love it so darn much! Even if you expect it to do well, however, I wouldn't have expected it to beat Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I mean... TWS ties into the entire Avengers franchise, co-starred a female superhero, and revealed the presence of HYDRA, forever changing the MCU. But sure. Baymax is adorable...
4. Guardians of the Galaxy Makes The Top 5
Ok, so this one isn't a surprise. Not even a little bit. I was stoked for this when I first saw the trailer, I was blown away by the promo, and when it finally came out I felt like I'd died and gone to comic-book heaven. Personally, I think that this is just a perfect blend of the classics, sci-fi, and fantasy. Visually arresting, so colorful, so fun, but with such heart... oh, it's perfect!
However, I needed to add this in, because of how surprised people were when it first came out. Remember before we'd all seen the wonderousness that is Guardians? When critics were laughing about the idea of a talking raccoon and Vin Diesel as a tree with only one line? When the casual viewer (who would still recognize DC's big three, The Avengers or the X-Men) were completely baffled as to who this strange Star-Lord was? To many, it seemed that Marvel was just going crazy, throwing properties at the screen willy-nilly and assuming that their success and name would carry it. Well, guess those naysayers are feeling pretty darn silly now. Marvel knows exactly what it is doing. Taking over the world...
5. Transformers Is The Most Successful Film of 2014. Seriously?
This may not be a comic-book movie, but to me, it belongs in geekdom and it couldn't go un-mentioned. Mostly because according to this list, it is the most financially successful film of the entire year. What now?
Age of Extinction was the fourth installment in the increasingly laughable Transformers franchise, and while I have the same nostalgia of every other 80s kid when it comes to Optimus Prime and his gang, these are becoming beyond ridiculous. I can still see it in the top twenty because, well, it's Transformers. It appeals to everyone wanting to re-visit their childhood favorites with an uncomplicated blow-stuff-up movie. On top of that, neither Shia Le Bouef or Megan Fox made an appearance (thankfully), and for many it was seen as something of a new start for the franchise. I don't believe that this Bay-trocity deserves to beat out the remaining top ten, but I will admit that I went to see it in theaters. Because Dinobots.
So there we have it - the top 20 films of 2014 (according to the math-whizzes at Deadline, anyway). I would certainly re-write the order if I was making a personal favorite list, but numbers don't lie. (Statistics, on the other hand...) Even though there were some big surprises, the best part is that six of the twenty are based on comic books. SIX. Add in Transformers and The Hobbit as generally nerdy, and nearly half the list has geek-appeal.
Now that makes me happy!