Monday Morning Quarterback Part II

By BOP Staff

March 4, 2015

Now we all know why he's retiring.

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Kim Hollis: Somewhere around next weekend, American Sniper will become the top earning film of 2014, beating both The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and Guardians of the Galaxy. What are your thoughts on this?

Jason Barney: It is a pretty big surprise, and doubly so considering most of the money it earned was made in 2015. And that Guardians of the Galaxy was a such a big surprise. I still think Guardians is the story of 2014, though. Reflecting back on 2014 is a bit interesting considering the numbers a year ago felt somewhat depressed compared to the hot box office pace over the last decade.

American Sniper deserves a lot of credit, though. It has earned a lot of money and is still going. There is no doubt it is a very significant story.

Matthew Huntley: It is, indeed, a surprise, and I also agree with Jason that's it's impressive. However, I also think it's a disappointment because I don't think it's as good a film as the other top earners. Still, I'm glad it's helped fuel 2015's box-office past 2014.

Felix Quinonez: I think it's an amazing box office performance. Before American Sniper came out, I wasn't even expecting it to make over $100 million domestically. It's a relatively inexpensive movie with a very touchy subject matter from a director who hasn't had a hit in a while and it's going to outgross a Hunger Games movie and a Marvel studios summer blockbuster. I doubt anyone saw this coming.


Michael Lynderey: The race for biggest movie of 2014 has to be the most volatile in ages. First, we had The LEGO Movie and Captain America: The Winter Soldier really break out in the first half of the year, and it wasn't clear for a long time which would be the bigger film (Captain America ended up winning, $259 million to $257 million). As summer progressed, movie after movie opened decently but failed to get any momentum at the box office - Spider-Man, Godzilla, Transformers, the Apes and their Planet, and so on. Nothing could top the Captain.

For the historical record: since at least 1980, the biggest movie released from January to April of any given year has never outgrossed the biggest movie released from May to August of that year. But up until Guardians of the Galaxy came out August 1st and beat Captain America 2, it looked like that streak would fall. Another streak did fall, though: since at least 1980, again, the biggest movie of the summer was never one released in August. Not once. The other three months could claim their share of summer's biggest, but not August. Guardians of the Galaxy changed all that when it won summer 2014 (yes, I know the film technically had Thursday screenings on July 31st. But I believe it's officially an August 1st release).

I will note that, by summer's end, the year's two biggest films were both Marvel titles.

Coming into the last four months of 2014, it looked like Guardians of the Galaxy (which had petered out - if not quite Peter Parkered out - at right over $330 million) would face two challengers: The Hunger Games and the Hobbit, which was the last one in the series and would possibly get a bump from that fact. Everyone expected Hunger Games to take the crown in a cakewalk, but it wasn't so easy. Adding to the suspense, Mockingjay opened considerably lower than the other two films, and it was looking for a long time like it wouldn't overtake Guardians (Hobbit opened okay and took itself out of the race fairly early on). Then, through holiday legs, Hunger Games made just just enough to beat Guardians - $336 million to $333 million. So it was settled then, right?

Apparently Bradley Cooper, the real draw in Guardians of the Galaxy, thought it wasn't. In just about every year of the last 15 or so, since the release of The Phantom Menace started the Decade of the Fanboy (later to become the Century of the Fanboy), someone could reasonably have guessed what the year's biggest movie would be. I don't think anyone could have possibly guessed the answer for 2014. It's impossible, and it's the biggest box office shock probably since I started following the box office when I was 13 years old, in 1999. It's bigger than Blart (no, not in terms of actual weight, of course), bigger than My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and so much bigger than Avatar that you half-way expect American Sniper to have been directed by James Cameron (of course, if it had been, it would have crossed $750 million).

And consider this bizarre notion: if you were following the race for biggest movie of 2014, you needn't have really started paying attention until January 2015. Kudos to American Sniper.

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