Early in the year, we projected which movies would do the best at the box office in 2015. There is no reason to believe that winter blockbusters like Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens or The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 won’t be huge come Christmas, but the deficit they have to make up to the likes of Jurassic World and Furious 7 may be insurmountable before the end of the year.
Let’s look back at our picks, check out how things have panned out thus far, and reset the odds heading into the tail end of the year.
#10 The Hateful Eight
Release Date: December 25, 2015
The Down-Low: During a blizzard in the Civil War era, eight westerners encounter a blizzard in Wyoming. It’s hard to go wrong with Samuel L. Jackson starring in a Quentin Tarantino western. We’re imagining Django but with more violence and swearing (which would make it entirely violence and swearing).
- Update – Hateful Eight drops significantly due to a change in release date. Now scheduled to be released in 70mm format on Christmas Day, with digital theaters showing the movie on January 8, 2016, there will not be enough time to make crazy cash in 2015. But with the cast and director attending Comic-Con on July 11, the hype will be significant.
- Update #2 – Tarantino’s latest flick is unlikely to crack the top-ten films in 2015 due to its limited Christmas release. The worldwide release of Hateful Eight has been pushed back to January 8th, 2016, which means it will make the majority of its revenue in the new year. To add to the drama, the NYPD and the LAPD have decided to boycott the film due to Tarantino’s involvement in a rally to protest police brutality. Talk about tough justice.
#9 Fifty Shades of Grey (new entry)
Release Date: February 13, 2015
The Down-Low: The film adaptation to one of the best-selling novels of all time did surprisingly well considering it only scored a rating of 25-percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Teenage girls swooned over Edward Cullen in Twilight. Now it’s Mom’s turn to ogle Jamie Dornan’s six-pack in Fifty Shades of Grey. Still, $569 million is a respectable showing for a movie whose source material was written on a Blackberry. Had it not come out near Valentine’s Day, the film would undoubtedly have made substantially less.
#8 Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Odds: 80-1 (Down from 50-1)
Release Date: July 31, 2015
The Down-Low: Ethan Cruise, I mean Tom Hunt, whatever his name is, returns in the fifth installment in the Mission Impossible franchise. The secret agent will be battling a nefarious “syndicate”. If 2011’s Ghost Protocol is any indication (it was Cruise’s highest-grossing film ever, earning $694,713,380 worldwide), audiences will lineup for this one despite the tired sounding premise. On the bright side, Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner will reprise their roles as Benji Dunn and William Brandt.
- Update – Trailers are out and they look solid, plus another edition of the series has already been greenlit. There is no reason to believe this is going to be the top grossing movie of the year, but good results and a fun time seem likely.
- Update #2 – Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is currently sitting in third place with a gross box office total of $682 million. Not too shabby for a Mission Impossible movie, but significantly lower than other summer blockbusters this year. Maybe Tom Cruise is losing his box office mojo.
#7 Inside Out
Odds: 60-1 (Up from 100-1)
Release Date: June 19, 2015
The Down-Low: It’s animated; it’s by Pixar; it’s from the same writer as Toy Story 3. Pixar’s tale of a girl who must cope with moving to a new house and new school in a new city is sure to be a big hit, especially with kids (like every Pixar movie that came before it). It will feature the vocal talents of Amy Poehler, Lewis Black, and Mindy Kaling.
- Update – Praised by critics at Cannes, Inside Out grossed a respectable $90.4 million in its first weekend, surpassing Avatar for the best results ever for a film with an original title and not based on a previously existing property. With $290 million worldwide, gross, it will continue to move up the list, but it has no realistic shot of catching 2015’s top performers.
- Update #2 – Inside Out is still going strong in theaters. To date it’s grossed $842 million worldwide, which makes it the second-highest total for an animated film in 2015. Turns out adults have enjoyed it as much as their kids. The Pixar film is also generating some Oscar buzz, which could boost its earnings higher in the weeks to follow.
#6 Minions (new entry)
Release Date: July 10, 2015
The Down-Low: This Despicable Me spin-off is living up to all of the hype. Despite receiving mixed reviews from critics, families are flocking to theaters to see these adorable (though very inept) yellow creatures in their first feature-length film. Minions has already earned over $1.1 billion internationally, and looks to be the top grossing animated feature this year.
#5 The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Odds: 10-1 (Down from 9-1)
Release Date: May 1, 2015
The Down-Low: A sequel to one of the biggest money-makers of all time, Age of Ultron is a battle between Marvel’s heroes and Ultron, their greatest threat since their last greatest threat (Loki) and their first greatest threat (each other!).
All the main players are back for Ultron: Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, and Jeremy Renner as Legolas … I mean Hawkeye. Joss Whedon directs!
- Update – Ultron has been an enormous success with nearly $1.4 billion in earnings, fifth all-time. That said, it remains behind this year’s top performer to date – Furious 7 – and will need to make up a large overseas deficit in order to eventually earn more cash.
- Update #2 – While Ant Man held its own at the box office, grossing $513 million thus far, Age of Ultron proves that six Marvel superheroes are indeed better than one. The action-packed sequel hasn’t earned much since our last update, but is still one of the top-five grossing movies of the year. We’ll see if they can keep the streak going once holiday blockbusters hit theaters.
#4 Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
Release Date: December 18, 2015
The Down-Low: We don’t know much about the plot yet, but the film will be set 30 years after Return of the Jedi, and will focus (in part) on the exploits of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. (Now 30 years older, we can only assume that Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford will be playing a lot of space golf and taking more frequent trips to the restroom.) The first of the new Star Wars trilogy is our second choice primarily because a lot of the money it earns will take place in 2016.
- Update – The Hollywood Reporter suggested in April that a $540 million worldwide opening is possible. Expected to be released in 4,500 North American theaters, a new record, it is going to top $1 billion and possibly hit $2 billion. That said, a lot of revenue will take place in the new year. The December 18 release date just doesn’t leave enough time to catch Furious 7.
- Update #2 – Box office analysts everywhere are predicting some massive opening weekend numbers for The Force Awakens. One of the most anticipated films of the year, it is likely to crush the existing single-day record of $91,071,119 currently held by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Some are saying the J.J. Abrams reboot will be the highest-grossing movie of all-time. Only time will tell.
#3 The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
Release Date: November 20, 2015
The Down-Low: Part 1 was the box-office champ of 2014. If the two-part Harry Potter finale is any indication, Part 2 will outperform its predecessor. If only your ticket purchase could help fund District 13’s munitions supply! Gwendoline Christie joins the cast for the final movie as Commander Lyme. J-Law, J-Hutch, and L-Hem are all back, of course.
- Update – Scheduled to be released in 2D, 3D, RealD Cinema, and IMAX 3D, this will be the movie everyone is running to watch circa late November. A series of teasers have been released with positive feedback. But with only six weeks to catch Furious, its odds aren’t great.
- Update #2 – Early box office projections have the last installment of The Hunger Games franchise making $134 million on its opening weekend. Factor in IMAX ticket sales and Jennifer Lawrence’s growing star power, and we can pretty much guarantee that this will be one of the biggest earners in 2015.
#2 Furious 7
Odds: 3-2 (Down from 1-1)
Release Date: March 26, 2015
The Down-Low: In a drastic underestimation of The Rock’s appeal – especially internationally – this one wasn’t originally on our list. But Furious 7, one of Paul Walker’s last movies, is absolutely killing it at the box office. It had the ninth-highest opening weekend ever, raking in $147.2 million.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about the film, though, is its critical reception. Furious currently has 82-percent on Rotten Tomatoes, which is almost more than 2 Fast 2 Furious, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, and Fast and Furious, combined.
- Update – We had to update this one once already; now at $1.5 billion in earnings, it has been the top movie of the year so far. Furious 7 has joined Avatar and Titanic as the only films to earn $1 billion overseas. It is likely, but not a guarantee, to be the top picture of the year in worldwide grosses.
- Update #2 – Furious 7 held the top spot for much of the summer, but has since been surpassed by Jurassic World. Plans are already underway for an eighth movie in the franchise. Although casting details have yet to be revealed, we can expect at least one more ride from Dominic Toretto and his crew.
#1 Jurassic World
Odds: 1-1 (Up from 3-2)
Release Date: June 12
The Down-Low: In 1993, Jurassic Park was a sensation. Set 22 years later, Jurassic World takes place in a fully functioning dinosaur theme park near Costa Rica. By splicing some dino genes and tossing in a pinch of “make sure this thing eats everybody,” the scientists at the park create the Indominus Rex; it starts eating everybody. Chris Pratt is the only person who can save them. (Everybody is screwed.)
- Update – With $524 million in opening weekend earnings in North America, Jurassic World got off to the best start in industry history. It is also the fastest film to earn $1 billion. Currently with $1.3 billion in earnings, it will need to attract a larger overseas audience in order to surpass Furious 7, but the two should duke it out for top spot for the rest of the year. (Jurassic is number one by more than $60 million in domestic revenue.)
- Update #2 – As of November, Jurassic World has surpassed Furious 7 as the top grossing movie worldwide in 2015 with over $1.6 billion in revenue. This also makes it the third-highest grossing film of all time (in the US) after Avatar and Titanic. Internationally, Jurassic World has done well, earning $228,740,000 USD in China alone. Apparently the Chinese have a thing for dinosaurs.