2015 Box Office Predictions: 1 Billion Dollar Contenders

Potential. Perhaps there is no better word to discuss the box office of prospects of 2015 than ‘potential.’ With Furious 7 driving over box office records – it’s currently the 7th highest grossing film of all time – and Avengers: Age of Ultron about to hulk-smash the box office further, 2015 is all set to be the highest grossing year ever. 2015 already has a 1 billion film in the tank (I’m sorry about all the car puns, but Furious 7, c’mon!). Avengers 2 and Star Wars: The Force Awakens are foregone conclusions to join the billion club while the likes of American Sniper (540 mill – most in 2015), Fifty Shades of Grey (568 mill), Cinderella (458 mill), Kingsman: The Secret Service (396 mill), and Taken 3 (325 mill) are doing plenty of heavy lifting. Even massive flops such as Mortdecai, Blackhat, Jupiter Ascending, and now Child 44 don’t seem so bad. Historically, the highest year of domestic box office was 10.9 billion in 2013. It’s harder to find worldwide numbers, but it appears that 2013 was also the biggest year worldwide, pulling in 35.9 billion total. Get ready for those numbers to burst.

There is one record, however, that I wonder if 2015 can break: most films to pass one billion. 2013 managed to become king with only Iron Man 3 earning over a billion, but 2012 holds the record. The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, Skyfall, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey all cleared the mark. And now 2015 has a shot at the title.

As I mentioned before, Avengers 2 and Star Wars are pretty much a lock. At this point tracking has confirmed that Avengers 2 will have a huge opening. Even with terrible legs, it’ll get to 1 billion. While Star Wars VII would be the first movie in the franchise to pass 1 billion in single release, that is only if you measure without inflation. For example, The Phantom Menace earned an eye-popping 925 million or so in 1999, long before 3D or premium format gave tent poles a huge push. Now, it’s listed at over a billion due to a rerelease. Given that Star Wars VII has a similar role to fill, including all the extra formats and no George Lucas, it’s gonna be huge. Just like how American Sniper is a 2014 release which got its money in 2015, Star Wars is going to earn plenty of gravy in 2016, but it might even cross 1 bill in the 13 days that it has in 2015. Furious 7 did it in 17 days. If the force is strong, Star Wars could certainly beat that. That leaves 2015 at 3/4 if it is to tie the record, but what about winning? Here are four movies that might really make 2015 the biggest ever.

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Jurassic World – June 12

This is the least likely film on my list, so I’ll do it first. The original Jurassic Park has now made over a billion with a rerelease. Adjusted for inflation, it earned about 1.5 billion. But the reason that Jurassic Park did so well was that it was genuinely groundbreaking. Before Avatar, Jurassic Park was arguably the biggest leap forward in special effects by any one film. As much fun as Jurassic World looks (or doesn’t) there are no indications it will break any ground. It’ll definitely scoop up cash, but unless it takes off overseas, I can’t predict it’ll cross 1 billion. Nonetheless, I’m sure it’ll be close.

Odds: 10%

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Inside Out/The Good Dinosaur – June 19th, November 25th

Pixar has only one film that has ever crossed 1 billion before – Toy Story 3. Nonetheless, they have a superb track record. Whenever their films catch on, they catch hard. Finding Nemo’s 895 million in 2003 would probably be 1 billion now (inflation is a factor, but those premium formats make a solid difference too). In addition, Frozen shows just how strong Disney, Pixar’s handler, can deliver well liked animation. Inside Out has the benefit of the summer season and The Good Dinosaur has winter legs on its side. If either film can be universally identifiable in its themes – more Up than Monster’s University – we may have Pixar’s second billion dollar film.

Odds: 50%

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Spectre – November 6th

Although it may seem strange, Skyfall did better in theaters than The Dark Knight Rises. Domestically, Batman will always win, but James Bond is well liked world over. Now, several factors combined to make Skyfall a smash hit: a great director, huge budget, ‘soft reboot’ approach, and the Bond 50th anniversary. The anniversary is over, so that card is played out. However, we have the same great director, an equally large budget, and another world class cinematographer ensuring Spectre will have a memorable trailer in a month’s time. Essentially, it comes down to enthusiasm. Last time the ‘soft reboot,’ worked. Sony made a slight readjustment after Quantum of Solace which kept the best parts of Craig’s era, dropped the worst, and added a few new things. The bad film was forgotten and Craig was embraced even stronger than in the superlative Casino Royale. Spectre seems to be on the same somber/sexy wavelength as Skyfall, which should help. Even though well-liked films tend to have profitable sequels (assuming Spectre is a Skyfall sequel more than a James Bond movie), can lightning strike twice? Basically, without the benefit of a real trailer it’s hard to measure the hype, but I’d still give Spectre a solid chance to cross 1 billion.

Odds: 50%

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Mockingjay Part II – November 20th

It just so happens that this list is arranged in chronological order of release and order of likeliness to hit 1 billion. Previous Hunger Games films have come as close as 865 mill, and Mockingjay Part II has finality on its side. It’s undeniably an event movie which should be able to draw even minor fans. In addition, it’s rolling out in 3D, which still makes a difference overseas. The Hunger Games is the closest franchise to Harry Potter we have now, and I have a hard time imagining that this doesn’t go with a bang just like Harry and the Gang, who eclipsed the previous winner by nearly 400 million for the finale go-round. Make that 4/4, gents.

Odds: 90%

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