The 15 Biggest Films Of 2014… And How Much They’ll (Probably) Make

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The Lego Movie has started 2014 with a bang, banking over $360m worldwide to date. But what films will join or even surpass it at the box office this year? Well, it’s mostly going to be the usual suspects – blockbusters, sequels, sequels to blockbusters – but we thought we’d gather the likeliest of the bunch in no particular order in one handy guide. If you are an unabashed populist who only goes to the cinema once or twice a month, these are the movies to bookmark. And if you want to know more about this year’s biggest films, check out the Megazine, onsale now…

brightcove.createExperiences();Release date: May 16
Director: Gareth Edwards
Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, David Strathairn

Why is it going to be big?
Well, there’s the sheer size of Godzilla himself, a whopping 300ft tall. Then there’s the fact that Edwards, who brought us a touching love story in his debut Monsters, seems to have nailed the mix of huge spectacle and human-scale emotion that something like this needs. That trailer, and footage screened for press, has yet to put a gigantic lizard foot wrong.

Seriously, how big are we talking?
In box-office terms, something in the order of $600m would seem a minimum. The 1998 version made $379m worldwide and it was pretty terrible (the trailer was admittedly spectacular, which may have helped it); if this is as good as it looks, sky’s the limit!

What to say:
“This looks Kraken!”

brightcove.createExperiences();Release date: April 18
Director: Marc Webb
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Sally Field, Jamie Foxx, Paul Giamatti, Dane DeHaan

Why is it going to be big?
The first film established Andrew Garfield in the role, built up a cute relationship between his Peter Parker and Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy, and brought Spidey back to his teenage kicks. Now all the signs are that they’re building a more formidable range of big bads and some serious stakes for the arachnid hero.

Seriously, how big are we talking?
The last film made $752m worldwide, so we’d conservatively expect somewhere north of $800m. Sequels generally make more money, but then again Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 made less than its predecessor so we’re not going to take a huge uplift for granted here.

What to say:
“You can never have too many bad guys. Apparently.”

brightcove.createExperiences();Release date: March 26
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Cast: Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Robert Redford, Frank Grillo

Why is it going to be big?
Marvel continues its grand scheme of making superhero movies that tie together while remaining distinct, and bring superhero characters to the screen in new genres with an effort that’s being pitched as a paranoia thriller. That’s a big contrast with its Stars-and-Stripes predecessor, but should actually answer some of the criticisms directed at that film from the less US-patriotic among us.

Seriously, how big are we talking?
The Thor films saw a $200m lift at the worldwide box office between original and sequel, which would signal a $570m take here, while Iron Man 3, impressively, about doubled its immediate predecessor. But those benefitted a little more closely from the Avengers effect, thanks to Loki’s presence in the former and Stark's immediate follow-up status, so $500m might be realistic in this case.

What to say:
“Shield me from S.H.I.E.L.D. with your shield, Cap!”

The Hobbit: There And Back Again

Release date: December 17
Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Benedict Cumberbatch, Luke Evans, Hugo Weaving

Why is it going to be big?
This is the big finale we’ve been waiting for now for two films, with everyone everywhere headed to the Lonely Mountain in an attempt to claim the dragon Smaug’s treasure – or, in some cases, for even darker purposes. Expect the Battle Of Five Armies to dominate this round, as the chickens (and other large flying creatures) all come home to roost. It’s going to be ginormous.

Seriously, how big are we talking?
Given how good the last one was, we expect this to be comfortably north of that film's $1bn total, because it’s now building on strong word of mouth and offers, importantly, the promise of closure.

What to say:
“No, honest, this one really does have an ending.”

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One

Release date: November 21
Director: Francis Lawrence
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Donald Sutherland

Why is it going to be big?
The Hunger Games franchise started strong and got bigger last time, while star Jennifer Lawrence has become the fantasy BFF of right-thinking people everywhere. This, the first half of the sweeping conclusion, will see the story get bigger, darker (inevitably) and could see some huge scale action as the whole of Panem is plunged into a civil war that spills out of the Games arena we've seen before and onto the streets of the Capitol and the Districts.

Seriously, how big are we talking?
The first film made $691m; the second $863m. This one could graze a billion, riding the wave of Jennifer Lawrence’s insane popularity and the franchise’s strong reviews and growing fanbase to date – assuming that this third film doesn’t suddenly drop the ball, quality-wise, and Lawrence doesn’t suddenly announce that she thinks Hitler had some good ideas or something.

What to say:
"I can't wait for the Subway tie-in, where you eat the second half one year later."

Release date: May 22
Director: Bryan Singer
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, James McAvoy, Ian McKellen, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Nicholas Hoult, Peter Dinklage, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore

Why is it going to be big?
Every X-Man (almost) assembled. Two time periods in peril, in a story taken from one of the best comic book X-arcs ever. A gigantic mutant mash-up the likes of which we have never seen. This is going to be large.

Seriously, how big are we talking?
No X-movie to date has broken $500m at the worldwide box office; we’re saying that this one should blow through that barrier without breaking a sweat.

What to say:
"If only I could see all my favourite characters on magazine covers. I guess Toad will never get his day in the sun…"

Release date: November 7
Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Wes Bentley, Topher Grace, Casey Affleck, Mackenzie Foy, Ellen Burstyn, John Lithgow

Why is it going to be big?
If film fans were cats, Christopher Nolan would be catnip. Inception showed that he doesn’t have to be making a Bat film for the fans to flock to see it, and now he aims to prove it once again with the third in his Words Beginning With “In” Trilogy (as we assume he’s calling it after Insomnia and Inception). With a tale of space travel via wormholes and a desperate future Earth, starring a newly-crowned Oscar-winner, this could be another thinking man's blockbuster.

Seriously, how big are we talking?
Inception made north of $800m worldwide. Assuming that Interstellar gets a strong ads push (a reasonable assumption) and has some spectacular visuals to back up that concept (also likely), this should do similar numbers.

What to say:
"When Christopher Nolan has finished his meticulous editing, then you have my permission to watch."

brightcove.createExperiences();Release date: July 17
Director: Matt Reeves
Cast: Gary Oldman, Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, Kodi Smit-McPhee

Why is it going to be big?
The first film was something of a surprise blockbuster: everyone expected it to do reasonably well, but no one expected it to be as good as it was. This one comes with higher expectations but a heck of a cast to meet them: Oldman, Clarke and Russell joining Andy Serkis as the remnants of humanity and a rising ape civilisation clash.

Seriously, how big are we talking?
The previous film made $481m worldwide. This should comfortably break $500m, assuming it isn’t utter dreck.

What to say:
"I can't wait for Breakfast Of The Planet Of The Apes. There'll be lots of PG Tips."

brightcove.createExperiences();

Release date: August 1
Director: James Gunn
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Karen Gillan, Vin Diesel, Benicio del Toro, Bradley Cooper, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close

Why is it going to be big?
Marvel has yet to put a foot seriously wrong, but this takes their masterplan to outer space and the outer limits of believability. Weird skin-colours, alien prisons, talking trees and a machine-gun-wielding rodent await us in what promises to be the closest they’ve come to a live-action Looney Tunes. We’re psyched to see it.

Seriously, how big are we talking?
This one is really hard to call. You have to imagine a base of $250m-off, the level of something like Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs (similarly weird, similarly funny), but sky’s the limit if they get the tone right. This could end up more like a smart-ass Star Wars if they nail it.

What to say:
“Ooga-chaka, ooga-ooga ooga-chaka…”

brightcove.createExperiences();Release date: July 10
Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Jack Reynor, Nicola Peltz, Kelsey Grammer, Li Bingbing, Stanley Tucci, Sophia Myles

Why is it going to be big?
It’s Transformers; by its nature it’s insanely big and popular all over the world. Whoever thought that a bunch of toys that were generally broken by your younger sibling would have endured like this? As a bonus, this time there’s no annoying Witwicky and we get Mark Wahlberg instead. Also, dino-bots. FREAKIN’ DINO-BOTS. Ain’t no way the general public is going to resist that prospect.

Seriously, how big are we talking?
The last film made north of $1bn. Given that that was following the disappointing Revenge Of The Fallen, it’s clear that even a weak entry in this series cannot derail it, so we would expect this one to do similar numbers.

What to say:
“Who disguises themselves as a robot dinosaur? How is that an effective disguise?”

Release date: May 30
Director: Doug Liman
Cast: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Jeremy Piven, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Lara Pulver

Why is it going to be big?
Director Doug Liman claimed, at a recent London Q&A, that this has something for everyone. For those who love Tom Cruise, he’s in virtually every scene, as his cowardly soldier relives the same day over and over in a war against alien invaders. And for those who hate Tom Cruise, he dies “about 200 times”. That should cover all demographics.

Seriously, how big are we talking?
Last year’s Oblivion made $286m, proving Cruise’s worldwide pulling power still exists. Given that this has a much more action-packed trailer and looks a lot lighter, we’d be expecting more like $350m even before you add any good word-of-mouth.

What to say:
"I'll just have an edge of tomorrow. Just a sliver. Woah, woah, that's too much."

brightcove.createExperiences();Release date: July 4
Director: Dean DeBlois
Cast: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrara, Cate Blanchett, Jonah Hill, Kit Harrington, Craig Ferguson, Djimon Hounsou

Why is it going to be big?
The first film was the best American non-Pixar animation in years, with one of the best action-film last acts ever. That first clip from the sequel, with Baruchel’s Hiccup and dragon Toothless flying together, suggests that they know what made the first film tick and are prepared to give us more of the same.

Seriously, how big are we talking?
The first film made a hair under $500m worldwide; this should make more. Now Despicable Me 2 managed twice as much as the first film there, but this one doesn’t have Minions to bring in the tiniest kids, so we suspect this will land more in the region of $650m.

What to say:
“The key is to spray water on their nose every time they misbehave, and dragons will soon learn.”

brightcove.createExperiences();Release date: June 6
Director: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Cast: Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Ice Cube, Dave Franco, Peter Stormare

Why is it going to be big?
Last time, they managed to undercut every cliché in the buddy cop arsenal and high-school movie at once. This time they aim to do the same for college-set stories, and the trailer suggests that they succeed in that rare feat of making a genuinely funny comedy sequel.

Seriously, how big are we talking?
$250-300m would seem reasonable. The last one made $200m and had great word-of-mouth, but comedies don’t travel quite as well overseas as action or sci-fi blockbusters.

What to say:
“I just hope they’re not suffering an over-falsity of confidence on this one, because I am tripping major balls about seeing it.”

Release date: July 25
Director: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Cast: Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Eddie Redmayne, Sean Bean, Douglas Booth, James D’Arcy, Terry Gilliam

Why is it going to be big?
This is a film where Mila Kunis plays a possible Queen Of The Universe and Channing Tatum is a mutated albino wolf-warrior. Directed by the siblings who made The Matrix. The visuals look utterly glorious; if the reviews are anything other than violently condemnatory, this could break out in a big way.

Seriously, how big are we talking?
There is absolutely no way to tell. This could sink like Cloud Atlas did, because in a summer of easy and relatively familiar sells it’s too out there, or it could soar like The Matrix because did you hear the bit where Tatum is part-wolf?

What to say:
"The sequel will be Uranus Ascending. Stop giggling at the back."

Release date: June 20
Director: Josh Boone
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Laura Dern, Willem Dafoe, Nat Wolff, Sam Trammell

Why is it going to be big?
Stick with us here, because this is a bit more of an out-there prediction than the rest. But John Green's book The Fault In Our Stars has a big and passionate fanbase, and you can be quite sure that they are raving about the prospect of this film to all and sundry. While something like this breaking out in a big way is always "execution dependant" (i.e. unlike some blockbusters, this will have to be very good to get a wind behind it and make huge money), the trailer suggests that they have carried over the book's emotion.

Seriously, how big are we talking?
Waaaay back in 1990, Ghost made $500m, so a weepy romance can make serious moolah. Of course, that was exceptionally successful (as was another romantic drama, Titanic) but even a smaller hit like The Vow made the guts of $200m worldwide, so something in the order of $250m would seem reasonable to hope for here. While Divergent is the bigger looking hit for Woodley on paper, this could challenge it if it really takes off.