– By Paulie Spiceflow –
The summer of giant lizards, apes, and superheroes is over. The falling temperatures and turning leaves bring a change in mood. Explosions, martial arts fighting, and witty one-liners just don’t do it anymore. That doesn’t mean we won’t have blockbusters. Like last year, the top grossing film could come at the end of the calendar year. This fall could be just as epic as the last fall.
The top grossing film of 2013 was Catching Fire, the second installment in The Hunger Games series which premiered in late November. No movie this year has thus far matched its amazing $424 million in receipts. I’d bet on The Mockingjay Part I being the top earner in 2014. The third installment premieres November 21st, the weekend before Thanksgiving.
The critically-acclaimed Gravity took many by surprise last year, earning $274 million without using superheroes, hobbits, lasers, aliens, dystopias, apes, gratuitous nudity or teenage love triangles. This year’s surprise might be Interstellar, directed and written by the great Christopher Nolan. In addition to the Batman trilogy, he also wrote the incredibly complicated Inception. Interstellar is an apocalyptic story of humanity’s desperate attempt to find a new world.
Sound familiar? Looks like Hollywood figured out The Fifth World had a compelling premise. Interstellar stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, and Michael Caine. With such a cast and crew, it is hard to see this one flopping.
For fantasy lovers, there is the final installment of The Hobbit trilogy. Peter Jackson stretched the Tolkien classic to the limit to get it to three movies, giving fans more than they could ever ask for. The second movie, Desolation of Smaug, nearly broke $1 billion in worldwide ticket sales with $258 million coming from the US. If you can sit through another 3 hour movie, you’ll probably enjoy this one too. I for one will pass.
Dracula Untold gives moviegoers a different take on the legendary villain. It premieres this weekend but early reviews are pretty bad. Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer (critic review average) has it rated at 29 percent. Then again, it doesn’t matter what they think. It matters what the audience thinks.
One can’t help but be struck by the similarities between 2014 and 2013. You had a few teenage dystopias that flopped followed by a buffet of comic book superheroes. A couple post-apocalyptic titles made it in, including a sequel (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and a reboot (Godzilla). A Hunger Games movie could end up on top once again. Their is a critically-acclaimed sci-fi title(Interstellar), a Tolkien movie, and a Michael Bay explosion (Transformers).The only thing missing is another Fast & Furious movie. Don’t worry, I’m sure there will be one ready for next year.
Many complain Hollywood lacks originality, preferring to give us the same movies every year, over and over. They spew out sequels, trilogies, prequels, and franchise reboots. Only three of the top twenty sci-fi/fantasy movies from this year lacked a precedent (Guardians of the Galaxy, Lucy, and Divergent).
While I agree Hollywood isn’t venturing too far out of the box, it is not really their fault. We keep going to these recycled movies every year. Theater receipts have increased the last three years in a row. As long as people go to the same movies by the millions, Hollywood will continue to make the same movies. The only way to get Hollywood to change its ways is to stop forking out the $12 to see recycled superhero action movies. If we are unwilling to make that sacrifice we shouldn’t be complaining.