While movieheads have been looking forward to the epic years of 2015 and 2016 - which will bring us The Avengers 2, new Star Wars and James Bond movies and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - 2014 proved to be fascinating in its own right. We saw the launch of a whole new superhero property (Guardians of the Galaxy), the rejuvenation of a franchise thought to be on shaky ground (X-Men: Days of Future Past), the bizarre delayed release of a comedy, which sparked debates over censorship (The Interview) and so much more.
Screen Rant has revisited some of the 2014 release we thought would be huge box office risks, and as ever, some of the calls were dead on (I, Frankenstein, Pompeii), and some films proved to be surprisingly successful (Noah, Dracula Untold). Still, while many of the high concept blockbusters drew audiences thanks to their premise or existing movie universe, old-fashioned star power still wins audiences.
Forbes has released their list of the highest-grossing actors of 2014, and leading the pack are Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt. While Lawrence's star status is unarguable thanks to her Academy Award win for The Silver Linings Playbook and major roles in two blockbuster franchises: she's the reluctant face of a revolution in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 and she played vengeful mutant shapeshifter Mystique in X-Men: Days of Future Past. The total gross of her movies this year: $1.4 billion.
As for Pratt, he is beloved for playing the human Labrador puppy Andy Dwyer on NBC's Parks & Recreation, the seventh and final season of which premieres in 2015. The final run of Parks & Rec coincides with Pratt's newly minted movie star status. After strong turns in dramatic fare like Moneyball and Zero Dark Thirty, his lead vocal turn as Emmet in The LEGO Movie proved his personality can hold a film together and his headlining role as Peter Quill a.k.a. Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy showed the world that he's got the chops, moves and charisma to be a major star. Pratt's box office share: $1.2 billion.
Following Pratt and Lawrence on the list are established box office stars like Scarlett Johansson (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Mark Wahlberg (Transformers: Age of Extinction) and Angelina Jolie (Maleficent), but when it comes to potential 2015 hits, Pratt and Lawrence again have the advantage.
Chris Pratt has lined up another potential oddball franchise by signing on for Cowboy Ninja Viking and is reportedly circling a part in The Magnificent Seven alongside Denzel Washington, but 2015 has one big entry featuring Pratt: director Colin Trevorrow's highly anticipated Jurassic World, the first trailer for which managed to capture (or at least manufacture) some of the spirit of Steven Spielberg's original. It's a box office risk, but one with huge potential dividends.
As for Jennifer Lawrence, her Hunger Games run ends with Mockingjay - Part 2 (November 2015), one of the safest box office bets of the year. She is expected to reunite with her Silver Linings Playbook director David O. Russell for true story drama Joy, and will return as Mystique for X-Men: Apocalypse in 2016.
Movie stars come and go and while most arrive full-blown like Lawrence, who made a huge impression with Winter's Bone and has held our fascination since, we watched Pratt steal scene after scene on Parks & Rec and grow into his film roles with each part. These two represent a generation of stars with serious acting chops and charisma to burn. We'll see if they replicate their success in 2015.
Jurassic World hits theaters June 12, 2015. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 opens on November 20, 2015.