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Grading Mojo's Summer 2014 Forecast

by Ray Subers
How to Train Your Dragon 2
 

 
September 10, 2014

Back in April, Box Office Mojo made specific box office predictions for 20 Summer 2014 releases. At that time, it looked like it was going to be a tough Summer to predict; that theory turned out to be more true than we had imagined.

Half of our picks were wildly off, which is a significant increase over past years. These inaccuracies can be chalked up to a few poor assumptions made ahead of the season.

First, the predictions were made based on the assumption that July had to be the highest-grossing month of the Summer. This was based on the fact that July has been the highest-grossing month of the year in each of the last 25 years. Remarkably, July wound up being the worst month of the Summer, and as a result July releases like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Deliver Us From Evil, Tammy, Planes: Fire & Rescue and Hercules were all noticeably overestimated.

The second assumption was that there had to be a certain number of "original" (i.e. non-sequel) hits. Even with two heavyweight sequels (Iron Man 3 and Despicable Me 2), 13 non-sequels earned over $90 million at the domestic box office in 2013. With a weaker batch of franchise titles, we assumed Summer 2014 would deliver at least as many non-sequel hits. Instead, only eight passed the $90 million threshold.

The worst mistake, though, was assuming that star power would help prop up movies that weren't inherently appealing otherwise. This proved to be problematic when it came to A Million Ways to Die in the West (Seth MacFarlane), Hercules (The Rock) and Blended (Adam Sandler), among others.

For each title, we will list the domestic forecast, the actual gross (in most cases an estimate) and the percentage difference [(Actual-Forecast)/Forecast]. Each prediction will be assigned a grade on the following arbitrary scale: A (less than 10% difference), B (10-19.9%), C (20-29.9%), D (30-39.9%) and F (over 40%).

International results are less predictable, and are also still coming in over the next few months, so they will not be included below.

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Forecast: $325 million
Actual: $176 million (est.)
Difference: -46%
Grade: F

In hindsight, it was a poor choice to bet that How to Train Your Dragon 2 would expand in the same way that Despicable Me 2 did a year before. Still, the fact that Dragon 2 is going to wind up $40 million below its beloved predecessor is stunning, especially given the lack of animated competition this Summer.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Forecast: $290 million
Actual: $234 million (est.)
Difference: - 19%
Grade: B-

It was correct to assume that bringing back the original X-Men cast would help Days of Future Past easily exceed the last three movies in the franchise. Still, it fell well short of X-Men: The Last Stand in ticket sales; $234 million seems to be about as high as the X-Men franchise is going to go at the domestic box office.

Transformers: Age of Extinction

Forecast: $285 million
Actual: $246 million (est.)
Difference: -14%
Grade: B

The last Transformers movie earned $352.4 million at the domestic box office; the $285 million prediction here was based on the drops for the fourth installments in the Shrek and Pirates of the Caribbean franchises. That wound up being a generous forecast, as Age of Extinction fell a massive 31 percent from its predecessor.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Forecast: $240 million
Actual: $208 million (est.)
Difference: -13%
Grade: B

With goodwill from the first movie and a story that took the franchise in an interesting new direction, we accurately predicted that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes would be one of the few sequels to out-gross its predecessor this Summer. Unfortunately, it didn't quite live up to the lofty $240 million forecast.

Godzilla

Forecast: $230 million
Actual: $200.7 million
Difference: -12.7%
Grade: B

After Godzilla's massive opening weekend, this $230 million forecast actually looked like it would be a bit low. Unfortunately, the movie was crushed by mixed word-of-mouth, and wound up with the lowest total ever for a movie that opened above $90 million.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Forecast: $225 million
Actual: $202.9 million
Difference: -9.8%
Grade: A-

The Amazing Spider-Man 2
moved the franchise back to the first weekend of May, and brought back the iconic Green Goblin villain. As anticipated, that wasn't enough to stop the bleeding, and this became the lowest-grossing Spider-Man movie (by a large margin) at the domestic box office.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Forecast: $180 million
Actual: $320 million (est.)
Difference: 78%
Grade: F

With obscure characters and an August release date, we expected this to perform similarly to Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger. Boy, were we wrong.

Maleficent

Forecast: $150 million
Actual: $241 million (est.)
Difference: 61%
Grade: F

This $150 million prediction was based on the notion that the so-so reputation of Alice in Wonderland and Oz The Great and Powerful would negatively affect Maleficent, putting it in close to Snow White and the Huntsman (which opened on the same weekend and also focused on a well-known fairy tale villain in its marketing campaign). Instead, it obliterated our prediction thanks to strong attendance from family moviegoers.

Continued with a look back at predictions for 'Neighbors,' 'The Fault in our Stars,' 'Blended,' 'Hercules' and more... >

Discuss this story with fellow Box Office Mojo fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @boxofficemojo, and follow author Ray Subers at @raysubers.

Related Stories:
Summer 2014 Forecast
Grading Mojo's Holiday Forecast
Holiday 2013 Forecast
Grading Mojo's Summer Forecast
Summer 2013 Sets New Record with $4.76 Billion
Summer 2013 Forecast

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Summer Grosses
2014 Grosses (2014-only releases)



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