Award season may be all about the art and science of movie making, but it also accounts for money with the unofficial, but all important, title of highest grossing movie of the year. In previous years, journalists and studio executives didn't need to look beyond the United States to find the answer. Now, things are not so simple.
According to Deadline, while the domestic North American market is still the largest movie release market, it's one of over 70 overseas markets, each with a different weight when compared to the other movie markets. This becomes important in years like 2014, when the top ten highest grossing movie releases in the domestic and international markets share very few common movies.
The 2014 domestic box office take was unusually bad. In fact, Business Insider reports that the 2014 summer movie release season was the worst in 7 years. To put that in perspective, the last time there was such a poor summer movie release season was the year Spider-Man 3 was released. While Spider-Man 3 was the highest grossing movie of 2007, it has become a joke among comic book movie fans, with even director Sam Raimi saying the movie "didn't work."
Taking into account only the domestic market, the highest grossing movie of 2014 was the surprise blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy from Marvel Studios. Box Office Mojo estimates that the little movie everyone expected to flop actually earned $333 million dollars during 2014. The next highest grossing domestic movie release was The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, which raked in over $32 million. Another Marvel Studios movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier earned $259 million, to round out the top three domestic movie releases.
The international movie box office returns tell a very different story. The highest grossing movie of 2014, according to the international market, was Transformers: Ages of Extinction with a whopping $842 million in international ticket sales. By contrast, Transformers: Age of Extinction earned only $245 million in domestic release, and placed fifth on the list 2014 movie release sales. The second highest grossing international movie release was either The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies or Maleficent, depending on the source. Neither film cracked the top five in their respective domestic releases. In fact, the only movie in the top five for both domestic and international releases is Transformers: Age of Extinction. It seems that, despite being a box office smash in North America, international audiences weren't taken in by the vintage, campy charm of Guardians of the Galaxy.
Which begs the question: will the domestic and international box office takes be so different in 2015?