As we approach the last week of 2014, it's the time to reflect on the hundreds of movies that were released during this past year. Some were tremendous hits, some not quite so much. There were some surprise box office splashes, some unpredictable flops. A few highly-anticipated blockbusters disappointed critics, while some went over and above in meeting high expectations.
All in all, there's no doubt that 2014 was a strong year for movies. From sequels to reboots, from adaptations to original scripts, there was something out there for everyone to enjoy regardless of age. With such a great year in film in 2014, it makes the next year's worth of movies all the more exciting as we're teased with trailers and clips.
Here, we've compiled a rundown of the 20 most successful and popular films of the year. These weren't all the most highly rated, so although the box office figures class them in the top 20 many critics might disagree. Whether due to good marketing, great reviews or just a whole lot of hype, these twenty movies proved to be the ones that most cinema-goers turned out for in their millions in 2014.
20 Rio 2 - $131,538,435
"Rio 2" is the sequel to the 2011 film, and was met with generally mixed reviews. But it still managed to make over $130 million. The movie was also the last screenplay written by Don Rhymer before he passed away. Those who didn't like the movie noted that the film had basically the same plot format with nothing new, except making things bigger and and more extravagant.
19 Ride Along - $134,938,200
"Ride Along" opened on January 17th, starring Kevin Hart and Ice Cube and had the second highest grossing opening weekend for the month of January. Although the film was met with primarily negative reviews, the movie will see a sequel in 2016. Of course, the movie made almost $135 million - not a shabby number for a movie that wasn't well liked. Hopefully, the sequel can redeem the franchise, and who knows, perhaps the "Ride Along" series will turn into a trilogy.
18 Neighbors - $150,157,400
"Neighbors" is a comedy film that was released on May 9th and tells the story of a married couple who are new parents and their dilemma when a college fraternity moves in next door. Starring Seth Rogen and Zac Efron, the film was met with positive reviews and grossed over $150 million. Thanks to the typical Rogen-esque humor and despite the crudeness that earned the film an R rating, it rated among 2014's top comedies.
17 Divergent - $150,947,895
There's no surprise that the Young Adult genre of the literary business has taken the world by storm in the form of adapted movies. "Divergent" is no exception to the rule. Based on the original series by Veronica Roth, "Divergent" gained mixed reviews in the box office, particularly noting that the storyline was not very original and overall, the story was predictable. Despite the mixed reviews, fans of the book and the general public still gathered at the box office, causing the movie to gross over $150 million.
16 Gone Girl - $164,408,908
"Gone Girl" is based on the critically acclaimed book by the same name, and surely did not disappoint with the film version. Starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, the film tells the story of Nick, whose wife's disappearance makes national press and finds himself the prime suspect of his wife's absence and possible death. The movie gained generally positive reviews and was praised for its intricate plot, dark overtone, and casting choices from the smallest speaking roles to the star front runners.
15 Interstellar - $166,752,480
Written by Jonathan Nolan and co-written and directed by his brother Christopher Nolan, "Interstellar" was released on October 26th and continues to gross money at the time of writing. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, and Jessica Chastain, "Interstellar" gained favorable reviews, noted for its fresh ideas and unique approach to movie making with its grand scale of special effects and beautiful scenery. Overall, "Interstellar" was praised for a beautiful storyline, great suspense and strong performances by McConaughey and Hathaway.
14 How to Train Your Dragon 2 - $177,002,924
"How to Train Your Dragon 2" received critical acclaim following the first film in the series, and has proven that the story is rich and interesting enough to make not only multiple films, but good multiple films. The film was praised for its beautiful animation, terrific acting, lovable characters, and an emotionally charged plot that keeps viewers interested until the very end. Originally, skeptics were unsure the success of the original movie could be met, but this film has proven the skeptics wrong.
13 Big Hero 6 - $185,235,910
"Big Hero 6" was one of the most highly anticipated films from Disney after the success of "Frozen" last year. This film surely didn't disappoint or fall short in comparison. Based on Marvel's superhero team, Disney actually invented new programs and software in order to create the film's visual effects. "Big Hero 6" was met with wildly positive reviews for its heartwarming story, exciting plot elements, redeeming ending, and overall visual experience. Not only was the movie enjoyable for kids, but adults as well.
12 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - $191,204,754
While it wasn't met with positive reviews, that didn't stop "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" from becoming a part of the top 20 grossing movies in Hollywood. The action flick starred Megan Fox and Johnny Knoxville, but this film adaptation of our favorite mutant turtles were criticized for unoriginal ideas and poor pacing when it came to the acting and script. But in the end, it was the movie's producers who got the last laugh - all the way to the bank. The movie also became Nickelodeon's highest grossing film.
11 22 Jump Street - $191,719,337
Following the wild popularity of "21 Jump Street" based on the television series, "22 Jump Street" was released on June 14th and was met with positive reviews and commercial success. Starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, the pair play two narcotics police officers infiltrating a college. There are laughs, there are dramatics, and a good old fashioned cop comedy plot. "22 Jump Street" was praised for the great chemistry between Tatum and Hill, and how the film came together in a collaborative unit that brought about a solid and cohesive film.
10 Godzilla - $200,676,069
After the unsuccessful reboot of the "Godzilla" franchise in 1998, American studios wanted to give the world's favorite destructive monster another go. Good thing they did too, because "Godzilla" was a commercial and critical success worldwide. What made this film such a success was the fact that the script was exceptionally strong and able to support the elaborate visual effects. The film was directed by Gareth Edwards and included a cast of very strong actors, including Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston. One of the best parts of the film was the dramatic reveal of the monster along with the sights and sounds of the movie to draw you into the story with a satisfying ending.
9 The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - $202,853,933
"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" is the sequel following the success of "The Amazing Spider-Man." While the movie received mixed reviews, mainly due to underdeveloped characters and a "crowded script", stars Andrew Garfield (Peter Parker/Spider-Man) and Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy) were praised for their performance and were noted to have given the movie some heart.
This particular franchise has been noted to follow the comic series more accurately than the previous franchise starring Tobey Maguire. And of course, wen it comes to special effects and CGI, this film does not disappoint.
8 Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - $208,545,589
"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" is the eighth film in the "Planet of the Apes" franchise. The film was well received and commended for emotional depth, plot, and unprecedented visual effects. The movie was considered to be a box office hit, garnering over $208 million in North America alone. The beauty of the movie is, in part, that it forms a prequel to the "Planet of the Apes", meaning audiences already know what's ahead for the world of the film, but now they get to watch the destruction as it happens.
7 X-Men: Days of Futures Past - $233,921,534
"X-Men: Days of Futures Past" is the seventh film in the X-Men franchise and directed by Bryan Singer. The movie was inspired by one of the comic book story lines, also called "Days of Futures Past", which came out in 1981. The movie was well received and is the best reviewed film out of the film's predecessors, with a glittering all-star ensemble cast including Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, and Ellen Page, just to name a few! The film was commended for its fresh approach to the X-Men story as well as the visual style, breathing new life into the franchise.
6 Maleficent - $241,410,378
"Maleficent" was one of the most highly anticipated Disney movies but was one of the year's letdowns according to critics. Still, according to box office figures it was a runaway success.
Based on the terrifying villain of Disney's 1959 movie "Sleeping Beauty", the movie takes on a different turn as it tells Maleficent's side of the story. Starring Hollywood powerhouse Angelina Jolie, "Maleficent" was well received and critically acclaimed by both fans and critics alike, along with grossing over $240 million dollars.
The movie is definitely a re-imagining of an old Disney classic, and causes all viewers to wonder if we're ever told the complete story in a fairy tale. Following the success of "Maleficent", Disney has many more live-action movies about our favorite fairytale characters in the works.
5 Transformers: Age of Extinction - $245,439,076
"Transformers: Age of Extinction" was released on June 27th and is the fourth film in Michael Bay's "Transformers" franchise. Unlike the film's predecessor's this film did not feature Shia LeBeouf, but instead, starred Mark Wahlberg as Cade Yeager, a single father and inventor. Critics actually favored this installment slightly more than the other films. The movie was filmed mainly in Monument Valley, Utah, and Detroit, Michigan was changed and redressed to look more like Hong Kong, and McCormick Place in Chicago was changed to look like a city in China.
4 The LEGO Movie - $257,760,692
When it comes to Legos, we've probably all played with them, building our own imaginary cities with our own crazy characters. So, when plans for "The LEGO Movie" were announced, fans of the toy franchise young and old jumped for joy. The movie tells the story of Emmett, played by Chris Pratt, who must save the earth from Lord Business, played by Will Ferrell. The movie was computer animated and included many jokes and pokes on current pop culture and Hollywood names. Between the script and acting, plus the visual spectacle, "The LEGO Movie" was a commercial success with critical acclaim.
3 Captain America: The Winter Soldier - $259,766,572
"The Winter Soldier" is the sequel to the first film, "Captain America: The First Avenger". Following the success of the first film, as well as "The Avengers" film, the consumer market has shown without doubt that they love Captain America. In this film, the first avenger joins forces with the Black Widow and Falcon face an assassin known as the Winter Soldier as well as uncover a conspiracy within SHIELD. For Marvel fans and movie goers alike, this film had everything needed to create a high-grossing film that fans are still watching and supporting.
2 The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 - $276,884,991
This film was one of the most highly anticipated sequels of the year, with a strong foundation set by the film's predecessors, "Catching Fire" and "The Hunger Games". Despite the fact that this one ranked much lower in the critics' opinion than the previous installments, the movie's financial success was unquestionable.
Based on the best-selling books by Suzanne Collins and starring Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence, "Mockingjay - Part 1" has the perfect ingredients for a high-grossing film. Even without the movies, The "Hunger Games" franchise was selling out in the book world, and becoming the highest grossing book on Amazon. With Collins' final book, Mockingjay, split into two movies, the world doesn't have to say goodbye to Katniss Everdeen and her friends quite yet, and we'll probably see "Part 2" on this list next year.
1 Guardians of the Galaxy - $332,490,182
The highest grossing film of 2014 is "Guardians of the Galaxy", but that will be a huge surprise only to those of you who've lived under a rock since July. With promotions starting over a year before the movie's release, the film had an explosive opening weekend. Based on the Marvel superhero team and directed by James Gunn, "Guardians" is, of course, the highest grossing superhero film of the year, beating Captain America. The all-star cast includes Vin Diesel, Zoe Saldana, Michael Rooker, Glenn Close, Chris Pratt, and Bradley Cooper, just to name a few.