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Top Box Office Hits of 2014 - Outside the Franchises!

Amir here, reporting to box office duty. For those of us not living under a rock for the past four years, the success of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 this weekend comes as no surprise. Let’s skip right over it then, although it’s probably worth noting that its haul was significantly less than its predecessors. In order to restore some sanity in the midst of this sequel-dominated explotionapalooza, we’ll take a break from regular box office reporting to look at the year’s top ten non-franchise, non-CGI-driven, non-animated box office champs of the year thus far:

#1 Drama of 2014: GONE GIRL

That Top Ten
01 GONE GIRL $156.8 and rising Jason's reviewpodcast
02 NEIGHBORS $150.1 Review & podcast 
03 RIDE ALONG $134.9
04 THE FAULT IN OUR STARS $124.8 Review
06 NON-STOP $92.1 Amir's Review
08 TAMMY $84.5 Review
10 FURY about to climb over Let's Be Cops for this spot Review

#1 Comedy of 2014: NEIGHBORS

Debatable. Non-Franchise but Still Heavily CG. If You'd like to mentally include any of them
- LUCY $126.6 Podcast
- INTERSTELLAR $120.6 and rising Michael's Review 
- NOAH* $101.2 PodcastInterview


On average, this top ten list is on the same level of quality as the actual top ten but what is depressing is that increasingly it is becoming impossible for original films to perform as well as commodities that the public already recognizes. Currently the highest ranking wholly original film among this year’s biggest grossers is Neighbors at 15th. While sequels and adaptations can be traced all the back to the silent era, the box office snoozefest wasn't always thus. Even at the turn of the century, the top ten list featured, quite unbelievably, the following films: Cast Away, Gladiator, What Women Want, Meet the Parents and What Lies Beneath, followed by the likes of Erin Brokovich, Traffic and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.

Since then, the studio system has gone through a complete metamorphosis, on several levels that are both too long and too frustrating to write about in this weekly column, but I think we all lost something as our stars gradually turned from people into effects and the average age of those the films are marketed to decreased without control.

Anyway, speaking of Hidden Dragon, here are the year's best selling foreign hits so far:

#1 Subtitled Film of 2014: CANTINFLAS

Top Subtitled Pictures of 2014 Thus Far
01 CATINFLAS $6.3 (Mexico via Lionsgate) - Oscar Submission
02 THE LUNCHBOX $4.2 (India via Sony Pictures Classics) 
03 IDA $3.7 (Poland via Music Box Films) - Oscar Submission, Loved it
04 THE RAID 2  $2.6 (Indonesia/USA via  Sony Pictures Classics)
05 THE ADMIRAL: ROARING CURRENTS $2.5 (South Korea via CJ Entertainment) 
06 BANG BANG $2.5 (India via FIP)
07 KICK $2.4 (India via UTV) 
08 2 STATES $2.2 (India via UTV) 
09 GLORIA $2.1 (Chile via Roadside Attractions) - Oscar Submission last year, Loved it
10 JAI HO $1.2 (via Eros) 

As always, Indian films dominate the list, though with the exception of The Lunchbox, most of them failed to gain traction outside the target demographic of the Indian community. France has had an unusally bad year, but it's heartwarming to see a film as chilly and uninviting as Ida has done such impressive business. Meanwhile, the best foreign release of the year, Force Majeure, is inching its way toward the million dollar mark. So far it has grossed $429k.

What have you watched this weekend? And how many of these selective top ten hits have you seen?

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Reader Comments (19)

Whiplash, in which everything is carefully (and somewhat effectively) calculated, from the stocky characters - the tough teacher, the tortured artist, the "girl" - to the way the plot moves, but nonetheless made up for a successful experience, mainly for its exposition of how much sacrifice it takes for great artists to be born, even though I would have liked for it to explored those themes with more nuance, which would require for it to spend more times developing the inner and outer relationships contained in the story, meaning I would have liked for the movie to be at least a half hour longer to really believe in its characters' trajectories and backstories. I didn't necessarily need to see another scene of the teacher pushing his students, but would have liked to get a better glimpse into Teller's character's genius and what truly makes him the special one as well as Simmons's own experience with being an artist himself and his need to behave the way he does. That way, I feel the performance wouldn't have to run at all cylinders at times. It would be a more modulated film discussing a rare topic in movies when it comes to youngsters discovering their talents (Art School Confidential is another movie that comes to mind). But overall, I felt the director knew what he wanted and did a remarkable job at it. With a richer screenplay, it could have succeeded even more.

November 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMr. Goodbar

Neighbors was inspired by a 1981 movie---forgot the name---to lazy to look it up. It isn't really original.

November 23, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

3rtful- Gone Girl and Fault are also adaptations. The list wasn't supposed to be of original films. It was non-franchise, non-CG-driven, non-animated film.

November 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

Wow, Noah is the only film mentioned in the post that I've seen. (Gone Girl any day now, but still...)

November 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Noah é CG-driven, no?

November 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNew

@3rtful- the 1981 movie you're thinking of is also called Neighbors. I don't recall anyone saying they were inspired by that film, even though they do share a similar premise.

November 23, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterthefilmjunkie

New- I thought about that one, but I think that film is more about a new interpretation of the Noah story than it is about telling the same story with bigger CG.
Borderline case and I think you can maaaaybe make a case for Maleficent, Interstellar and Noah all being equally effects-driven, but I think visual effects is less the reason for Noah to exist than the other two.

November 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

Would Lucy qualify for this list? I know there's CGI in it, but is it driven enough by it?

November 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

Definitely think Lucy should qualify over Noah. That's a strange judgment call.

November 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

Watched Magnificent Obsession, a rare Sirk blind-spot. Yes, the plot is completely ridiculous, but Wyman (well-earned Oscar nomination) and Hudson is so good and different here than in All That Heaven Allows.

Saw Albert Serra's The Story of My Death. Never heard of it? Don't bother. It past around the festival circuit last year and is currently having a NY run. The kindest thing I can say about it is that it does for in real time digestion what Jeanne Dielman did for making a meat loaf. Then again, that feels like a sullying reduction of Akerman's feminist masterpiece. Serra himself seems to have the consciously constructed 'I'm an auteur!', 'Lemma trash talk Martin Scorsese', self-mockery on lockdown from his interviews, but frankly, I think Nicolas Winding Refn wears it better (at least the stereotypical construct of an art film director for him seems like disguise of somebody with actual layers in both real life and with his films). I cannot believe Cinema Scope (a publication of many film writers I liked) went to bat for it so hard last year. It made the publication's social media profile of sneering at other festival films, in hindsight, doubly absurd when they have this film's image next to it. The film is just not as funny or challenging as it thinks it is.

Watched Songs from The Second Floor. Always been curious about this one. Now here's where the funniness, framing, and choices feel earned. Has Andersson ever been compared to Wes Anderson and vice versa? I feel like their worlds are not that different, especially given their commercial influences- and by that I mean actual commercial work.

November 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Joe - how so? Lucy is entirely a genre fx film whereas Noah is a director's personal vision of a famous story that just happens to have CGI?

November 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I wonder how much CGI was involved in that clip of Zac? Should Neighbors be disqualified?

November 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

I thought the Noah trailers were pushing CGI animals and floods and that sold tickets more than the story or the director. I would have included both Noah and Lucy on the list and each reader can mentally remove whatever doesn't fit.

November 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVaus

By the way, Lucy is also a director's personal vision. That film could not have been made by anyone but Luc Besson (this exercise is a little too open for interpretation if you ask me)...

November 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

If Noah belongs, Interstellar and Lucy do too. On the other hand, I don't *really* give a hoot one way or the other, and take Amir's larger point, which is that shit is getting bleak out there for a certain type of movie.

Anyway, I saw Fury - a somber "this is what war does to people" movie until it turns into a rather rousing "be a man, kill a shitload of people with your manly gun" narrative. I did not see that changeup coming.

Then I saw E-Team, which is basically just an infomercial for Human Rights Watch, which is fine, but I'd be lying if I said i wasn't expecting something more.

And today I saw Querelle at Lincoln Center, which is AMAZING. I didn't actually like it *that* much, but just the fact that something as insane as this exists makes me a happier person.

November 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

It was released both subbed and dubbed, but shouldn't The Wind Rises be at #2 on the foreign language list given that it played subbed on many screens?

November 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterReuben

Reuben - we didn't include it because of its qualifying run last year.

Everyone - - due to your complaints abotu Noah (for which you can blame me, not Amir) i added a subchart of "debatables" for those original CG heavy films that were also kinda auteurial or at least fresh non-franchisey

November 24, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

What about Now You See Me with its $117.7?

November 24, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterezekiel 2517

ezekiel - that was 2013

November 24, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

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