2014: A Bad Year for the Film Industry

The end of the year always marks that time when film critics and movie buffs tell us what the past year has been like for the film industry. The urge to write definitive top-five, top-ten or top-twenty lists for movies combines with the desire to predict the outcomes of the fast-approaching Academy Awards ceremony; and so each year’s end meets a heated, much enjoyable debate about the products of the silver screen.

However, 2014 poses a problem for said critics and movie buffs. It has been all but a good year for the film industry. From disappointing ticket sales, low revenues and not-too-successful sequels, to the alarming Sony hack and its repercussions, 2014 can best be described as a strange, if not downright bad, year for movies.

Movie Box Office Results by Year, 1980-Present
Movie Box Office Results by Year

Movie Tickets, Anyone? Someone?

Apparently, in 2014 people preferred staying home to watch movies, rather than going out to the cinema. At least, that’s one possible explanation for the fact that ticket sales in 2014 were the worst in over 20 years, according to the National Association of Theater Owners. Besides the comfort of home entertainment, other factors that presumably contribute to the drop in ticket sales are piracy of those movie copies you watch at home, and the rising popularity of gaming. Another, more plausible explanation, is that the films last year were just not good enough. Even sequels flopped, which brings us to…

Sequels don’t Always Guarantee Success

On one hand, sequels always seem like a sure bet, and many indeed have so been over the last decades (take the “Harry Potter” and “Star Wars” series, for example). Not this year, though. Somehow, in 2014 sequels seemed to have lost their charm, even those that were expected to be blockbusters such as “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”. Some other 2014 sequels that fell short of the success of the original films were “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”; “How to Train Your Dragon 2”; “Muppets Most Wanted” and “300: Rise of an Empire”.

The Interview that Almost Started a War

While some say that the Sony hack and the alleged North Korean threats regarding the release of “The Interview” have actually been good for the profits of this movie, this probably isn’t true. Expectations were that the film would open at $20 million in the United States and finish a bit over $100 million worldwide. However, with only a few cinemas releasing it in the aftermath of the threats, it opened at a mere $3 million in the U.S., and although the revenues of its online release are $15 million, this is nowhere near the expected numbers had it not caused such a mess. Apparently, an interesting news story just doesn’t make up for lost profits.