Six 2014 Box Office Predictions You Can Bank On

Guardians of the Galaxy will defy skeptics. Source: Marvel Entertainment.

Year's end means looking forward as well as looking back. In that spirit, today I'm offering six specific predictions for what we'll see at the worldwide box office in 2014. Will I be proved right or wrong? Read on, and then leave a comment to let me know what you think.

1. Guardians of the Galaxy will be the summer's surprise hit. We know from earlier reports that Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige sees the process of creating Guardians as similar to his team's early work on the 2008 breakout hit Iron Man. The difference this time, of course, is that there's less pressure with Walt Disney's (NYSE: DIS  ) resources and distribution network at Marvel's disposal. Meanwhile, director James Gunn is a well-known comic book fan -- another good sign when you look at box office history. Guardians of the Galaxy opens on Aug.1 in the U.S.

2. Chris Pine's Jack Ryan won't resonate with moviegoers, killing what was once a golden franchise. I can't be the only one who grew up reading Tom Clancy novels. In those stories, Jack Ryan wasn't a James Bond clone but rather a CIA analyst forced to confront uncomfortable circumstances. No longer. In Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, director Kenneth Branagh teases the character as an analyst before unveiling an explosive story wherein Chris Pine's Ryan "isn't an analyst anymore." Viacom's (NASDAQ: VIAB  ) Paramount Pictures will distribute the thriller, which hits U.S. theaters on Jan. 17. The studio's last try at cashing in on the late author's work -- 2002's The Sum of All Fears -- earned a solid $193.9 million worldwide on a $68 million production budget.

3. Aaron Paul won't be enough to save Need for Speed from bombing. Did you know that DreamWorks Studios is adapting Electronic Arts' acclaimed video game franchise in concert with Disney's Touchstone Pictures and Reliance Entertainment? No? You aren't alone. At the time of writing, only 2,752 users at Rotten Tomatoes said they want to see the film. By contrast, 55,158 said they still want to see Fast & Furious 7, postponed for the moment due to the untimely and tragic death of actor Paul Walker.

4. Godzilla suffers the Pacific Rim effect. As much as I want this film to succeed, it suffers from two glaring problems. First, history: Pacific Rim -- a similar genre film -- needed a huge overseas haul in order to make break-even and Godzilla has a reported $160 million budget. Second, moviegoers don't seem interested. Only 6,256 people on Rotten Tomatoes said they wanted to see the film at the time of writing. Production partners Time Warner (NYSE: TWX  ) and Legendary Pictures are going to need a huge turnout to win big with this giant monster.

5. X-Men: Days of Future Past fails to justify its massive production budget. High expectations and huge budgets can kill a film's chances for profit. Early buzz for Days of Future Past is positive enough that it's likely to avoid outright failure, which I'd say (gulp) is anything less than $700 million in worldwide grosses. Sorry, 21st Century Fox, but that's what you face when you spend on the order of $220 million to produce your film -- and that's before prints and advertising costs. Also, keep in mind that its predecessor, X-Men: First Class, earned just $353.6 million worldwide on a $160 million budget. Fox is asking a lot of director Bryan Singer.

6. The Hobbit: There and Back Again out-earns the first Mockingjay. I've left the boldest 2014 box office prediction for last. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire has already outperformed its predecessor while the latest in The Hobbit series -- The Desolation of Smaug -- is tracking about 15% below the prior entry. Why would the equation reverse itself in 2014? Two reasons. First, the title: There and Back Again is familiar nomenclature to fans who've read Tolkien and even those who casually remember the Lord of the Rings prequel. Second, taste. While the first two Hunger Games books are action-packed, Mockingjay slows the pace. Lionsgate has nevertheless chosen to adapt the story over two films. Keeping audiences engaged could prove to be a challenge.

Now it's your turn to weigh in. What are your 2014 box office predictions? Which studios do you expect to thrive? Which will struggle? Leave a comment below, and a Happy Foolish New Year to you and your family.

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Read/Post Comments (12) | Recommend This Article (3)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2013, at 11:51 AM, scalan15 wrote:

    Did the writer of this article forget about Transformers Age of Extinction? That movie will be huge, it will make 1.5 Billion worldwide, bank on it

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2013, at 12:03 PM, mavrik0333 wrote:

    Transformers 4 will NOT be that huge and I'll put it at 750 million. As for the article saying Hobbit 3 out- earning Mockingjay 1 is ridiculous The Hobbit is "old" and based on earning from Catching Fire there is no way The Hobbit out-earns Mockingjay. The others might be dead on but I think Godzilla will be successful and nobody can can keep Need for Speed from bombing.

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2013, at 12:58 PM, scalan15 wrote:

    Transformers Dark of the Moon made $1,123,794,079

    Transformers Age of Extinction has more of a worldwide appeal, considering they filmed 1/3 of the film in China it will do huge numbers in that region, look at what having a chinese influence did to Iron Man 3, terrible film but was huge in China. Like I said TF4 will make easily 1.5 Billion worldwide

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2013, at 1:14 PM, truth123 wrote:

    Only a fool would compare NEED FOR SPEED, a new film, to FAST 7, the 7th in a huge existing franchise. One that just lost its leading man.

    oh, and you don't need to be genius to predict that JACK RYAN won't work and that GALXY will.

    Try a harder one. How about NEIGHBORS being the smash comedy of the summer of 2014? Or DUMB AND DUMBER TO actually working.

    Hate when wall street folks make uneducated predictions about the film business.

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2013, at 5:54 PM, toomuchgas wrote:

    Have never seen any of the films Lord of the Rings, Hobbits etc. and have not seen any of the Fast and Furious films. I hate the films that are designed for the Chinese audience-all special effects and no plot because everything offends the Communist leadership and there should be no individualism.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 12:06 AM, delfra wrote:

    @scalan15 - Dude you high 1.5 billion, man that's 'Avengers' money, no way is TF4 making that kind of money in your wildest dreams. It will make money at the box office but nowhere near that amount.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 7:59 AM, panchyprsss wrote:

    I have the gut feeling since Marvel announced the project that 'Guardians of the Galaxy' will be their first and biggest bomb. I mean these characters are even more obscure and unknown that all the previous Marvel movie characters. Does anyone remembers how poorly 'Watchmen' did at the box office? that was a better known graphic novel and had Zack Snyder at the helm and critics loved it, but audiences were like 'who are these guys?' I predict 'Enders Game' numbers on this one. On the other hand 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' will be THE biggest box office winner of the summer with the biggest numbers in the franchise. Mark my words!

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 10:36 AM, mayday87 wrote:

    Man... 1.) Spider-Man 2 will be bigger than Transformers 4

    2.) Marvel will DEFINITELY be the Box Office winner for the next two years... until Star Wars and Avatar 2 come out

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 4:21 PM, scalan15 wrote:

    @delfra Transformers 3 made 1.2 Billion worldwide, and you think 1.5 is impossible? Each film has grown the franchise, now that they filmed 1/3 of the movie in China, China alone will get 200 Million at the box office

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 4:22 PM, scalan15 wrote:

    @mayday87

    The first amazing spiderman made 750 million worldwide, the first transformers made more than that, wanna bet TF4 easily beats it worldwide

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 4:22 PM, scalan15 wrote:

    NUMBER DO NOT LIE

  • Report this Comment On January 20, 2014, at 12:11 AM, mimi18 wrote:

    changes of characters in TF4 will not help....and also the bad reviews....people will lost interest....it will be the lowest in its franchise.......

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