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The Winners, Sleepers and Busts at the 2014 Summer Box Office

By Dustin Rowles | Marvel Movies | September 1, 2014 |

By Dustin Rowles | Marvel Movies | September 1, 2014 |

Two of the three highest-grossing films of 2014 so far didn’t even open during the summer, but Guardians of the Galaxy — the latest entry into the Marvel universe — was the summer and the year’s biggest movie. In fact, it holds the record for biggest August opening of all time, and perhaps most impressively, it has the 7th biggest FIFTH weekend of all time, which means that it had incredible word of mouth and lots of repeat customers. That said, while Guardians will likely hit the $300 million mark domestically, it’s still likely to land $100 million short of last summer’s biggest hit, Iron Man 3. Guardians may be the new kid, but the original Marvel flavor is still the king of the box office.

Unsurprisingly, everything in the top ten this summer was based on a pre-existing property. In fact, Neighbors ($150 million) was the highest grossing original property of the year (and the best comedy of 2014, so far).

Beyond superheroes and sequels, the other trend of the summer (and 2014 overall) was YA adaptations. Fatigue, however, has already set in. Divergent was first out of the gate in the spring with $150 million, which was something of a disappointment. However, this summer’s $124 million grossing Fault in Our Stars was a huge hit, considering its $12 million budget. The Giver, on the other hand, was soon forgotten, putting up only $33 million. Likewise, If I Stay grossed $32 million.


As for surprises, beyond the massive success of the untested Guardians? Lucy put up $118 million based on a killer trailer which featured a kick-ass Scarlett Johansson character. Imagine how much more the movie would’ve made if it had actually been about a kick-ass Scarlett Johansson character and had not sucked so badly. Let’s Be Cops was another film that was terrible but quietly managed $60 million based on the fact that people love Damon Wayans and Jake Johnson (and were desperate for a comedy in August).


In the quietly surpassed expectations category, many people would consider Tammy a flop, but it actually made $83 million on a $20 million budget. Meanwhile, Tom Cruise’s Edge of Tomorrow — which was essentially given up for dead after a mediocre opening weekend — is about to eke past the $100 million mark, based mostly on positive word of mouth. Cool.


Maybe the biggest sleeper hit of the summer, however, was Jon Favreau’s Chef, which very quietly earned $30 million in mostly independent theaters. Likewise, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood has earned $19 million (on a $4 million budget) so far, and still has some legs (and will probably be trotted out again come awards season).

Finally, among this summer’s busts, The Rock’s Hercules was a disappointment ($71 million), Adam Sandler’s Blended ($46 million) may signal the end of Adam Sandler’s family movie domination, A Million Ways to Die in the West ($40 million) was a lousy follow-up to Seth MacFarlane’s Ted, and the third entry in the Expendables franchise ($36 million) will almost certainly be its last, and the same could probably be said for the 5th installment in the Step Up series ($14 million). The biggest flop of the summer, however, was likely Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, which could only muster $11 million at the box office, despite a recognizable property, years of buzz, and an impressive cast.


Here were the ten highest grossing films of the summer (and unsurprisingly included two Michael Bay projects, one as director and one as producer).

10. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — $166 million

9. How to Train Your Dragon 2 — $173 million

8. 22 Jump Street — $190 million

7. Godzilla — $200 million

6. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 — $202 million

5. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes — $205 million

4. X-Men: Days of Future Past — $233 million

3. Maleficent — $238 million

2. Transformers: Age of Extinction — $244 million

1. Guardians of the Galaxy — $280 million


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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.