Joel Kinnaman stars in MGM/Columbia Pictures' “RoboCop.”
Even as the curtain falls, Hollywood has already begun hyping its 2014 lineup with teasers, trailers and strategically placed viral marketing campaigns.
As usual, moviegoers are eager to get a glimpse at the forthcoming cavalcade of films. The buzz surrounding some anticipated blockbusters is growing louder by the minute as cinema aficionados begin blogging predictions about which big screen selections will succeed and which faulty flicks will flop.
First ... what were the best movies of 2013?
To date, the top box office moneymaker is “Iron Man 3.” As of Dec. 19, the film had taken in $1.2 billion worldwide according to Box Office Mojo. In second place is the animated family film “Despicable Me 2” which has earned $918 million. The No. 3 top grossing film of the year is currently “Fast & Furious 6,” with a worldwide haul of $788 million. “Monsters University” holds fourth place with $743 million followed by “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” with $734 million.
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” which was released Dec. 12, has earned $226 million in one week and will probably reach the top 10 list by the end of the year.
Three animated family films made the top 10 highest grossing films this year, including “Despicable Me 2,” “Monsters University” and “The Croods.” These films were rated PG or lower. The remaining films in the top ten are all rated PG-13.
Hollywood continues to enjoy success in bringing material gleaned from comic books to the big screen. In addition to “Iron Man 3,” the top 10 list includes the Superman reboot “Man of Steel” as well as the second Thor installment, “Thor: The Dark World.”
Six out of the top 10 highest-grossing films were continuations of pre-existing franchises. Of the four films that were not sequels, three now have sequels in the works, including “Man of Steel,” “The Croods” and “World War Z.”
And then there were the flops.
The studio that turns out some of the biggest moneymakers also turns out some of the biggest financial losers. Walt Disney Studios’ “The Lone Ranger” cost an estimated $375 million to produce and market. As of Dec. 19, it had grossed $260 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.
“Jack the Giant Slayer” faced similarly disappointing figures at the box office. It has earned $197 million – slightly less than Warner Bros. spent producing and marketing the film.
So, what’s around the corner? Following is a list of 22 of the most anticipated films of 2014, grouped – more or less – according to genre.
• “RoboCop” – It’s 2028 and OmniCorp is about to unleash its futuristic peacekeeper upon the unsuspecting Detroit citizenry. This remake of the 1987 film stars Joel Kinnamen in the title role. Gary Oldman plays the scientist who develops the RoboCop technology. “RoboCop” begins his beat Feb. 12.
• “Godzilla” – Legendary Pictures is resurrecting Toho’s iconic kaiju. Directed by Gareth Edwards, the film will explore the origin of Godzilla as a “terrifying force of nature” – and, with luck, it will fare better than director Roland Emmerich’s 1998 reimagining of the legend. The reptilian monster with atomic breath smashes his way into theaters May 16.
• “Transformers: Age of Extinction” – This summer will see the fourth installment of the film franchise based on the Transformers toy line – which dates back to 1984. This chapter serves as a direct sequel to “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” and stars Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor and Kelsey Grammer. The film will be released June 27.
• “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” – Caesar is back, leading a growing nation of genetically evolved apes. A sequel to “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” this film finds civilization in ruins and humanity struggling to survive. The revolution in evolution continues July 11.
• “Jupiter Ascending” – This science fiction film written and directed by The Wachowskis stars Mila Kunis as a Russian immigrant menial laborer who discovers she may be connected to a much grander destiny. This sci-fi vehicle launches July 18.
• “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” – The Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand as the sequel to “Captain America: The First Avenger” hits screens April 4. S.H.I.E.L.D. taps Captain America to investigate after one of its agents is assassinated. Chris Evans reprises his role as the lead character, Scarlett Johansson stars as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow and Anthony Mackie portrays Sam Wilson/Falcon. The Captain fights for democracy beginning April 4.
• “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” – Spidey-sense tingling? That’s because the next installment of the rebooted Spider-Man franchise is set to open May 2. This time around, the webslinger will face several antagonists, including Electro, played by Jamie Foxx; Harry Osborn, portrayed by Dane DeHaan; and The Rhino, played by Paul Giamatti. The web will ensnare audiences beginning May 2.
• “X-Men: Days of Future Past” – This film will bridge the gap between the two branches of the franchise, acting as a sequel to both 2006’s “X-Men: The Last Stand” and 2011’s “X-Men: First Class.” Facing a brutal future in which mutants are detained in internment camps, the ensemble must battle for survival across two time periods. The film opens May 23.
• “Guardians of the Galaxy” – This will be the 10th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As the title infers, the setting is the deepest reaches of outer space – and the guardians include a Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer and Rocket Raccoon. Look for it in theaters Aug. 1.
• “Maleficent” – Disney explores the evolution of a villain. The film features the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain from the 1959 classic “Sleeping Beauty.” Her wickedness will emerge in theaters May 30.
• “The Legend of Hercules” – This is one of two films about the son of Zeus coming to the big screen this year, the other being “Hercules: The Thracian Wars” from Paramount. This one, from Summit Entertainment, stars Kellan Lutz as Hercules and is directed by Renny Harlin. Poor Hercules is exiled and sold into slavery because of a forbidden love. The film promises gladiators, odysseys and baklava. Well, not baklava. Hercules flexes his muscles Jan. 10.
• “The Hobbit: There and Back Again” – Opening Dec. 17, this will be the final installment of director Peter Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works. Probably.
• “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” – From Paramount Pictures, Kenneth Branagh directs this new film based on bestselling author Tom Clancy’s famous character. Set for release Jan. 17, Chris Pine will be playing Jack Ryan this time around. Will he outshine Harrison Ford?
• “The Monuments Men” – Director George Clooney also stars in this film about seven over-the-hill, out-of-shape museum directors, artists, architects, curators, and art historians who went to the front lines of WWII to rescue the world’s artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and return them to their rightful owners. The artistic endeavor will be liberated Feb. 7.
• “Pompeii” – Because apocalyptic films aren’t just for the modern world, audiences will have a chance to see what old school end-of-the-world scenarios were like. Not even the most advanced doomsday prepper could have been ready for Mount Vesuvius. This film will erupt on screens Feb. 21.
Fun for the family
• “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” – Remember watching Rocky and Bullwinkle in syndication as a kid? The shows included filler segments about a talking dog and a little boy called “Peabody’s Improbable History.” Well, Hollywood apparently believes there’s enough there to make a feature film – and now we have “Mr. Peabody & Sherman.” Plan to go back in time Feb. 7.
• “Muppets Most Wanted” – The Muppets are back and audiences once more will pretend not to notice that their voices don’t sound quite the same. Ricky Gervais and Tina Fey join the cast this time. Expect a plethora of cameos, too. The Muppets return to the big screen March 21.
• “Dolphin Tale 2” – A sequel to 2011’s “Dolphin Tale” about Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s dolphin Winter, this film sees most of the principal cast returning for a continuation of the story. New to the cast is Bethany Hamilton, a professional American surfer who survived a shark attack. She will be portraying herself in the movie. “Dolphin Tale 2” swims into theaters Sept. 19.
• “I, Frankenstein” – Not your average Mary Shelly adaptation, Lionsgate presents a new twist on the tale. Frankenstein’s monster becomes entangled in a war between two immortal clans in an ancient city. Aaron Eckhart and Bill Nighy star. “I, Frankenstein” comes to life in theaters Jan. 24.
• “The Green Inferno” – Eli Roth directs this cannibal horror-thriller which was inspired by the cult classic 1980 Italian film “Cannibal Holocaust.” The story follows a group of student activists who travel to the Amazon to save a dying tribe – only to find themselves prisoners of those they sought to protect. The bloodbath spatters theaters beginning Sept. 5.
• “Grace of Monaco” – The film is focused on the personal story of former Hollywood star Grace Kelly during a dispute between Monaco's Prince Rainier III, and France's Charles De Gaulle over tax laws in the early 1960s. Nicole Kidman stars as Grace Kelly with Tim Roth as Prince Rainier III. The film will be released March 14.
• “Unbroken” – This war drama, scripted by Joel and Ethan Coen, follows the story of Olympic athlete Louis Zamperini. Angelina Jolie will direct. Following a B-24 plane crash, Zamperini and his surviving crewmates spent 47 days adrift at sea before being captured by the Japanese Navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp. The film reaches theaters next December.