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Disney In Depth: The Walt Disney Studios 2014 Preview (Part 2)
Brett Nachman   |  

Disney In Depth banner

2014 has arrived. This will (hopefully) mark another great slate of films from The Walt Disney Studios! In last week’s edition of Disney In Depth we explored the movies to be released during the first half of the year. Now let’s take a peek at the films debuting later in 2014.

Continue below to check out the rest of the list.

PLANES: FIRE AND RESCUE (July 18)

The details: Get ready for a storyline that’s actually not “up in the air.” This sequel to surprise 2013 hit Planes, arriving in theaters only 11 months after the original, focuses on crop-duster Dusty (Dane Cook) assisting the daring crew of the Piston Peak National Park in fighting wildfires. Dusty must turn to this alternative career after discovering “that his engine is damaged and he may never race again,” according to the official synopsis. The teaser indicates more amazing aerial action sequences and a fair load of airplane puns. Julie Bowen of Modern Family fame joins the Planes family as the voice of Lil Dipper, an excitable little pistol of a character, as evidenced by scenes shown at the D23 Expo.

Box office predictions: The first film pulled in some $90 million domestically – meeting its conservative budget – and this sequel was actually ordered long before Planes entered theaters. In fact, both of these were originally scheduled for direct-to-video home releases. The Walt Disney Studios saw the potential of this DisneyToon Studios brand and leveraged it for theaters. Though Fire and Rescue races into theaters during the more competitive July period, the lack of other family offerings in the marketplace should once again cement in solid box office earnings. Even despite negative reviews, Planes raked in hard cash. Anticipate final domestic grosses for Fire and Rescue to range anywhere from $75 million – $95 million.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (August 1)

The details: This will be Marvel’s first new franchise to hit theaters since 2011′s Captain America: The First Avenger. The anticipation is high among fanboys, especially with the recent casting of Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot. This sci-fi adventure flick finds Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, and others forming a team that goes “on the run with a highly coveted object and must join forces to defeat a cosmic force of epic proportions,” as the synopsis reads. The high-profile film continues the second phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The humor and intrigue shared during the D23 Expo sneak peek, should make for increased awareness and interest in the film over the coming months.

Box office predictions: Unless a surprise movie enters the end-of-the-summer game, Guardians should easily claim victory as the highest-performing August release. The Walt Disney Studios and Marvel Studios knows it needs to pull off a winner here, as they have been relying on only the characters from the Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor universes (discounting the combo seen in Marvel’s The Avengers). Expect a strong opening weekend for Galaxy, perhaps north of $80 million domestically if buzz is strong. The following weeks and ultimate earnings here in the United States will likely be contingent on its reviews and word-of-mouth from moviegoers. I would suspect at least $150 million domestically is a given, but up to $250 million could be a possibility.

Guardians of the Galaxy first image

THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY (August 8)

The details: Here’s the third 2014 release distributed by Touchstone Pictures. The DreamWorks film, based on the book of the same name about French chefs, finds Helen Mirren in the lead role. Don’t discount this smaller film, though, as Oprah Winfrey lends her name and experience as producer. Similarly, director Lasse Hallström possesses quite a strong track record (The Cider House Rules and Chocolat are among two of his 20+ films).

Box office predictions: This piece of dramatic summer counterprogramming could entice female viewers and older audiences to the theaters. As we know from 2009′s Julie & Julia and 2011′s The Help, released during the same weekend, these moviegoers can come in huge numbers with the right release. While on paper this may not sound like a hit, it could be an unexpected success, given the talent and content at the table. Its domestic box office earnings cannot even begin to be projected, given the amount of variables in the picture. However, I suspect that if everything connects just right (reviews from viewers and critics, other films underperforming, etc.), this might earn more than $50 million total.

ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY (Oct 10)

The details: Here’s another film based on a book. This time, it’s a children’s classic, a 1972 title that center’s on a boy’s day that goes far from well. Adapting a kids’ book to a film can prove challenging, but with good individuals on board (Lisa Cholodenko as writer, Steve Carell, and Jennifer Garner as leads, and Miguel Arteta as director), this might just work. The fine individuals involved, both on screen and behind the scenes, as well as the more conservative scale of the film, remind me of The Odd Life of Timothy Green, also starring Garner.

Box office predictions: Alexander may model Timothy‘s performance at the box office. The August 2012-released film brought in a respectable $51 million domestically. Yet the October release date of Alexander, additional star power (Carell) and book familiarity could increase its box office success. The Walt Disney Studios has faced mixed success in releasing Disney-branded films in October (think of the moderate box office receipts of Frankenweenie and Secretariat). Alexander has potential in exceeding the $75 million mark, but at this point it might be too early to tell.

BIG HERO 6 (Nov 7)

The details: What do you get when you mix San Francisco, Tokyo, Disney, and Marvel? Big Hero 6, that’s what! Set in San Fransokyo, a major metropolitan area, this Marvel-inspired flick for Walt Disney Animation Studios focuses on intelligent boy Hiro Hamada and Baymax, his unique, kind robot. Together they join forces with a mix of eclectic individuals in this fast-paced city, to deal with saving San Fransokyo from an evil plot.

Box office predictions: The Walt Disney Studios is on a roll with its films from Walt Disney Animation Studios. Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph showed that the once-discounted animation house could deliver in fantastic storytelling that could be embraced by audiences. Frozen has proven that even more so. The alternative storyline to Big Hero 6, especially through incorporating Marvel elements, make this a substantial gamble. But it could prove very successful. My conservative estimate would be that this film could earn at least $150 million domestically, with the potential to earn up to $225 million here if it wins over audiences. However, take into account the buzz-worthy Interstellar also opens on Nov. 7.

MCFARLAND (Nov 21)

The details: The Walt Disney Studios adds a second sports film to its 2014 line-up with McFarland, another true story – this time about a Latino high school track team transformed by the presence of one important coach (Kevin Costner). The athletes persevere through various issues, later winning a championship. Maria Bello co-stars in this drama, directed by acclaimed director Niki Caro, responsible for Whale Rider and North Country.

Box office predictions: Guess what premieres the same day as McFarland? Try the next chapter in The Hunger Games franchise. Tough competition! Any chance at winning the box office is instantly upended by Games‘ presence, but so does following a week after the new Dumb and Dumber film. A conservative opening box office weekend estimate would be around $10 million, with the potential to grow further into Thanksgiving. McFarland could prove to earn more than $50 million total here in the States. The race is on!

INTO THE WOODS (Dec 25)

The details: What happens when you assemble an A-list playing notable fairy-tale characters in an adaptation by Rob Marshall, whose work on Chicago blew away the notion Hollywood could no longer produce successful musicals? Magic! Marshall, who returns to The Walt Disney Studios after heading On Stranger Tides, the last Pirates of the Caribbean film, should give flavor to this reimagining of the famous stage production that finds familiar fantastical figures all in one setting. Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp lead a cast that also features Chris Pine, Anna Kendrick and Emily Blunt. How exciting!

Box office predictions: While Depp may be a tougher sell for viewers after both Dark Shadows and Lone Ranger failed, one can always count on Streep to deliver and bring in audiences. Adding rising stars Kendrick and Pine into the mix raises the appeal. Unfortunately, two other family films will aim to steal the spotlight: a new version of Annie and the third Night at the Museum film. Disney’s marketing campaign should be strong for this film, as it unites three of their best assets: music, star power, and fantasy environments. There is little doubt Into the Woods will earn at least $100 million domestically. Beyond that will be determined by how much the competition bites into viewers seeking alternative holiday entertainment.

Which of these films are you most excited about? Share your thoughts!

This is Brett Nachman, signing off. Follow me on Twitter for alerts of new editions of Disney In Depth, Thursdays on Geeks of Doom.

  • Jules

    The Planes Fire and Rescue ad rips off the US Army so bad. If it were the other way around, Disney would be suing the life out of the people using their brand that way. Where are the original ideas with these movies anyway?

  • Andrew Pogue

    What in the world are you talking about?

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