Update, Jan. 5, 3:34PM: With most studios’ B.O. bean counters off during the holiday, they finally released numbers for 2014 this afternoon. Total 2014 B.O. is $10.35 billion, off 5.2% from 2013’s high of $10.919B. Thank God for Christmas, because that’s what pushed the majors and indie distribs past the double-digit mark. Not much change in the rankings since earlier this week. 20th Century Fox is the champ and counting Searchlight is at $1.94B. Together with overseas, they’re at $5.5B — the biggest worldwide haul set by any major studio ever, outstripping Paramount’s 2011 record by $350M. Here’s the final studio market share figs:
1. 20th Century Fox $1.94B (includes Fox Searchlight) 18.7%
2. Walt Disney Films $1.617B 15.6%
3. Warner Bros. $1.56B 15.1%
4. Sony $1.26B 12.2%
5. Universal $1.12B 10.8%
6. Paramount $1.05B 10.1%
7. Lionsgate $736.9M 7.1%
8. Weinstein Co. $222M 2.1%
9. Relativity $186.5M 1.8%
10. Open Road $162.6M 1.6%
11. Focus Features $125.9M 1.2%
12. Freestyle Releasing $104.996M 1%
13. Sony Pictures Classics $41.45M 0.4%
14. Roadside Attractions $38.7M 0.4%
Others: $190M 1.8%
Total 2014: $10.35B (-5.2% from 2013) 100%
Source: Rentrak Theatrical
What’s interesting about Fox’s global success is that when they date their release schedule, it’s domestic that dictates, not any one country or foreign region. “Domestic is still the biggest territory in the world, and by far the biggest revenue generator out of all territories,” points out Chris Aronson, Fox domestic distribution chief. For all the talk that China gets, read that the market will surpass the U.S. in 3-5 years are the largest generator of box office, the sticky situation with the territory is that they keep the lion’s share of the revenue, on top of the film quota they place on U.S. titles. Further expounding on Fox’s success, Aronson adds, “We look to do the best job that we can with every film. We care about maximizing the potential for each one of of our films and making them as profitable as we can. We knew we were going to have a big summer after our fall and Christmas 2013 was disappointing.” Fox keeps the action going this weekend with its release of Europa’s threequel Taken 3. The film has already unspooled in South Korea and Hong Kong, loading up $9.3M.
Despite the importance of domestic, foreign is the key driver for getting product off the ground, and it’s what enables studios take risk on pricey projects. Execs can sleep tight at night knowing that they’ll clean up abroad, even if they lose their shirt stateside. Some insiders rubbed their chins heading into the New Year regarding sequels; whether moviegoers are put off by the excess of them. It’s up for debate — for every Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($259.8) which beats out its predecessor (the first Captain America made $176.7M), there’s another sequel such as The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 ($323.7M). which charts lower than its previous chapter. Sequels are obviously not going away: 2015 is built firmly on two of ’em between summer and Christmas: Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Disney/Marvel’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Said one distribution chief, “If we’re flat or down next year that would be a serious issue. Then we really need to take a look at the product we’re putting out.”
Sometimes, studios like to include the first weekend of January in the previous year’s haul. It’s interesting to note that they’re better off sticking to the fiscal measure this year — despite the great New Year’s box office. For the industry period of Jan. 6, 2014-Jan. 4, 2015, domestic B.O. was $10.33B off close to 7% from the industry 2013 frame of Jan. 2, 2013-Jan. 5, 2014 which amassed $11.09B.
Previous, Dec. 29: Despite a fantastic Christmas at the box office, 81 million people didn’t buy movie tickets this year. Not only were this year’s domestic admissions of 1.259 billion off 6% from 2013’s 1.34B, but the number of tickets sold hit their lowest level since 1995 when 1.211B people went to the cinema. Calculations are based on this year’s 3Q ticket price average of $8.12 from the National Association of Theater Owners, just a penny off from 2013’s $8.13. The upside is that thanks to Christmas, 2014 crossed $10 billion with a current estimated running cume for January 1-December 28 of $10.22B per Rentrak Theatrical. Some of the major studios are still on holiday with final figures set to be released on January 5. Here at Deadline we’re weighing 2014 according to the fiscal year of January 1-December 31, and we’ll be providing updates about the year along the way (studios tend to include the first weekend of January in their previous year’s hauls). Through Sunday, six studios have made in excess of $1B – Fox, Disney, Warner Bros., Sony, Paramount and Universal – a scenario not unlike 2013. Here we give a rundown of the majors and the mini-majors this year.
Insiders attribute the down year to lackluster product and the lack of even bigger tentpoles versus ticket prices, which remained level. And that’s not a line: According to Rentrak, 25 major studio titles moved off this year’s release schedule including Universal’s Furious 7 (previously dated July 11), Disney/Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur (May 30), Focus Features’ Fifty Shades Of Grey (August 1), Disney’s George Clooney starrer Tomorrowland (December 12), the Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending (July 18) and Universal’s Minions (December 19) – titles which collectively could have pushed 2014 over last year. Even Open Road/Worldview Entertainment’s horror film Green Inferno from cult director Eli Roth was pulled from the slow post Labor Day frame (leaving zero new wide titles) — a period when a horror title could have easily generated some green from bored teens.
Nonetheless, distrib chiefs aren’t fretting that they’ve lost moviegoers, particularly the prime young male 18-24 demo to such distractions as videogames and viral videos. More goods news: 2014 is the sixth year in a row to surpass $10B, and this year is running 3% higher than 2011. When broaching the subject about the off year with distribution chiefs, they’d rather take a 5% dip at the domestic B.O. any time. Says Universal distrib chief Nikki Rocco, “You’re gonna have good years and you’re gonna have bad years.”
What such ‘up’ years like 2009 (the year of Avatar when admissions were at 1.414 billion) have proved is that you gotta start early with the hits before you get to the year-end smashes. And 2015, like 2009 with Avatar, could be that with Disney/Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Paramount’s Mission: Impossible V throwing a one-two punch next December. From the onset in 2009, January promptly cooked up a stellar year with $100 million hits like Taken, Gran Torino, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, then carried through with an up-summer filled with Harry Potter 6, The Hangover, Star Trek, Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen and into fall with. The hope is that this January can fire up with Taken 3¸ a proven tentpole series for Liam Neeson, the expansion of an A+ Cinemascore Bradley Cooper headliner American Sniper, the Kevin Hart comedy The Wedding Ringer as well as Chris Hemsworth hacker thriller Blackhat and The Twilight Saga: New Moon.
20th Century Fox currently has a lock on the No. 1 spot at the 2014 box office with $1.769B, +66% over 2013’s full year, driven largely by eight $100M+-grossing tentpoles (four more than last year) which repped 72% of its annual take: X-Men Days Of Future Past ($233.9M), Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes ($208.5M), DreamWorks Animation’s How To Train Your Dragon 2 ($177M), Gone Girl (Director David Fincher’s highest grosser at $166M), Rio 2 ($131.5M), YA novel adaptation The Fault In Our Stars ($124.9M), DreamWorks Animation’s Mr. Peabody & Sherman ($111.5M), and another YA novel-to-screen The Mazerunner ($102M). Further bolstering Fox were 17 new titles in the marketplace this year compared to 14 a year ago. The studio also wowed in making thrifty budgeted films work stateside, read the $40M The Other Woman ($83.9M domestic B.O.) and the $17M budgeted August surprise Let’s Be Cops which legged its way to $82.4M. Arguably, Fox’s sole U.S./Canada misfires which need to rely on overseas to bail them out were the $145M price tagged (on DreamWorks Animation’s shoulders) Mr. Peabody & Sherman ($272.9M worldwide B.O.) as well as the $140M 3D Moses story Exodus: Gods And Kings. The Ridley Scott-directed film recently matched its budget in worldwide ticket sales ($52.5 domestic+$97.1M o’seas=$149.6M global).
Built on the backs of fairy tales and Marvel superheros, Disney is filing second for the year with $1.594B, now off 7% from 2013. What’s the big difference from last year? Bigger movies with bigger B.O. Disney had five films above $200M in 2013 including Iron Man 3 which made $409M, not to mention $400.7M Frozen which earned 66% of its take last year. The thought of an obscure Marvel superhero adaptation that featured a raccoon, a tree named Groot, a Mr. Clean-looking guy, a green Avatar-looking lady and Parks And Recreation comedy star Chris Pratt appeared as the quintessential comic-book film that was going to jump the shark. Hardly so for Guardians Of The Galaxy — the highest grossing film of the year at $332.9M. Disney and Marvel were confident they had a hit on their hands when they announced a sequel to Guardians at Comic-Con, about a week in advance of its release. Captain America did fine in his first outing at the B.O. in 2011 with Paramount ($176.7M), but he did better with Disney which catapulted the sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier to $259.8M. Maleficent, despite being slaughtered by critics with a 49% Rotten Tomatoes score, won over major auds with an A Cinemascore and saw a happy ending ever after of $241.4M – a fairy tale phenomenon that Disney distrib head Dave Hollis called after the $46.1M bow of Into The Woods “a brand halo from Frozen”.
Last year, Warner Bros. was the No. 1 studio with $1.86B. To date they are third with $1.54B and down 17%. What Fox is this year, Warner Bros. was last year: They had eight tentpoles ranging from Pacific Rim’s $101M upward to Man Of Steel’s $281M. Similar to 2013, Warner Bros. released the most new titles out of any major with 22. Five huge titles repped 53% of their biz this year: The LEGO Movie ($257.8M), Godzilla ($200.7M), The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies ($168M), 300: Rise Of An Empire ($106.6M) and Edge Of Tomorrow ($100.2M) as well as some major cash cows thrown in, read Tammy which made $84.5M off a $20M budget and the penny-pinching $6.5M horror pic Annabelle which screamed up $84.3M in the U.S./Canada alone.
In the wake of an atrocious hacking scandal, the good news for Sony is that they were up this year by 9% with an estimated $1.248B, thanks to top grossing films such as The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ($202.9M), 22 Jump Street ($191.7M), The Equalizer ($100.9M) and Faith-based title Heaven Is For Real ($91.4M). Having four new titles in the market this year for a total of 19 also helped fuel biz, not to mention star-studded adult films such as The Fury ($84.7M), the carryover portion of 2013 awards darling American Hustle (which made $82.6M of its $150.1M domestic cume this year) as well as George Clooney’s The Monuments Men ($78M). Annie looks to sleep its way to higher figs this holiday, and the fallout from controversial comedy The Interview left a silver lining for the studio with close to $3M at the Christmas four-day B.O. and $15M in online sales.
Thanks to Unbroken, Universal Pictures crossed the billion mark with $1.098B this past weekend. Comedies such as Neighbors ($150.2M) and Ride Along ($134.9M), Scarlett Johansson shoot ’em up headliner Lucy ($126.7M) and Mark Wahlberg carryover Lone Survivor ($125M) were also tops for Uni. Though Universal is down 23% from a year ago with two fewer new titles this year (14 total), the studio claims it’s their most profitable year. And taking a closer look at the numbers — that’s not spin. Last year, Universals had four films on their slate with $100M-plus budgets: Despicable Me 2, Fast & Furious 6, Oblivion and 47 Ronin. This year, every single film on their slate had a cost less than $70M.
The ever resilient Transformers franchise (fourthquel Age Of Extinction, $245.4M) as well as the rebirth of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ($191.2M), thanks to Michael Bay, rallied Paramount up 8% over last year with $1.043B as well as wide-appealing auteur films such as Interstellar ($177.4M) and Noah ($101.2M). There were some Melrose franchises that didn’t work as well as they did in the past. Though cheaply priced at $5M, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones was the series’ lowest chapter at $32.5M. Par saw success when they made Star Trek younger with star Chris Pine, but the same trick didn’t really work when they made Jack Ryan younger with Chris Pine ($50M).
YA titles Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 and Divergent were responsible for 63% of Lionsgate’s year to date box office of $730.2M; the rest of which was comprised of some action, horror and a Tyler Perry title. They’re down this year by 32% with 18 titles, three fewer than 2013. The slide hinges on Mockingjay – Part 1 (which could possibly surpass Guardians Of The Galaxy next year as the highest grossing film of 2014); a darker, more Orwellian-toned Hunger Games title that pulled in close to a third less than The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – the series’ highest grosser ($424.7M). Chin up next November. Lionsgate’s biggest disappointment was Millennium’s Expendables 3 which broke down at $39.3M — the lowest of the Sylvester Stallone series. The film was pirated 500,000 times in the U.S. and Canada before its release, however, even without the leaks, it’s questionable whether the film could have earned that much more. While Keanu Reeve’s John Wick earned awesome reviews at 85% fresh, the film didn’t exactly reboot the action star at the B.O. with $42.7M no thanks to a B Cinemascore. It was smartly made at a bargain $20M with worldwide posting $66.8M.
Relativity is down this year at 23% with a till of $186.5M. Not one title on their slate busted past $40M; their highest grosser being the PG-rated alien family film Earth To Echo which made $38.9M (budget $13M) followed by McG-directed Kevin Costner title 3 Days To Kill which made $30.7M. Last year, Relativity’s B.O. was bolstered by the romance breakout Safe Haven starring Josh Duhamel and the kids toon feature Free Birds which made $55.8M.
We’ll have further analysis on the arthouse and studio classic labels later, but as it stands for January 1-December 28, industry estimates have the Weinstein Co. at $214.6M (-56% from 2013), Open Road at $162.6M (+10%), Fox Searchlight at $143.5M (+25%), Focus at $125M (+24%) and Sony Classics at $40.8M (-42%).