Hollywood franchises take a hit at the box office in 2014

By Matt Bradwell  |  Jan. 2, 2015 at 1:53 PM
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HOLLYWOOD, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Despite mega-hits such as Guardians of the Galaxy and the LEGO Movie, Hollywood box office returns fell 5 percent in 2014, with established franchises suffering from sizable dips in ticket sales, while new ones offer studios hope for the future.

"This was the most flabbergasting year ever," Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with Rentrak, told Variety.

"The good news is that the movie business had a great year in 2013. A record breaker. The bad news was that in 2014, it was measured against that success."

Absent from theaters were recent big screen mainstays Fast and Furious, Star Trek, 007 and Batman. Of the major franchises that did see sequels released in 2014, only Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Captain America: Winter Soldier and 22 Jump Street -- all second installments of contemporary takes on established properties -- set series benchmarks in ticket sales. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies each failed to outsell their predecessors. Transformers: Age of Extinction proved especially disappointing, with its $245.4 million gross less than any in franchise history. X-Men: Days of Future Past finished as the second highest-grossing film in franchise history, but still fell roughly $410,000 short of the $234.4 million grossed by Brett Ratner's oft-criticized X-Men: The Last Stand.

New entrants that appear poised to establish big screen franchises The LEGO Movie and Guardians of the Galaxy breathed new life into returns, with The LEGO Movie making $257.8 million at the box office -- the fourth highest of any film of the year -- and Guardians winning the box office for 2014 with $332.9 million in overall ticket sales. Both films star Chris Pratt as their primary protagonist.

"The old standards didn't live up to what was expected," noted Dan Fellman, domestic distribution chief for Warner Bros.

"Maybe it was franchise fatigue, but when you look at hits like Gone Girl and [The] LEGO Movie, they offered something new."

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