This Year In Cinema, Part 1: Where Did They Come From?

Posted: December 31, 2014 in Top Films
Tags: , , , , ,

Let the end of the year wrap-up commence. Today is “Where Did They Come From?”, a recap of the year in film source material, and next week will be “Top 10 Lists” (the best of 2014 and hopefully 2015), and my official Oscar predictions.

Today we’re dealing with that ugly little monster that keeps saying that Hollywood is losing its creativity. Listen, its not the movie studios who are at fault if you choose to ignore films you’re not familiar with. Known commodities will nearly always win box office battles, because its easier to get people in the seats, but profit and box office receipts don’t equal quality, and in this age of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Redbox, there’s no excuse for not seeing the amazing new ideas out there. So…

Where Did They Come From?

There are four categories: Originals, Adaptations, Sequels (which include Prequels), and Remakes. I’m dropping re-releases this year, there are so few and they are usually pretty limited in scope.

To be fair, I’m only listing films that made it to wide release. If they have already announced wide release dates for early 2015, but have been out already in limited release, then they have been counted. If I counted limited release films as well, the original films would be the clear winner.



Using the same qualifiers that the Academy Awards use, Original Films are films that are new screenplays, and not based on previously existing material such as novels, plays, television shows, etc. Basically, “Original” means not connected to any pre-existing work in print, screen, or stage. Films like Selma, based on events but not creative works, are still original films. Last year there were 50 original films released. This year, that number falls by one to 49.

The Top Five Original Films at the worldwide box office in 2014 were:

(* = still in theaters)

  1. Interstellar* – $648.9M (Written by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan)  
  2. The Lego Movie – $468M (Written by Phil Lord and Chris Miller)
  3. Lucy – $458.9M (Written by Luc Besson)
  4. Neighbors – $268.2M (Written by Andrew Cohen and Brandon O’Brien)
  5. Non-Stop – $222.9M (Written by Ryan Engle, John W. Richardson, and Chris Roach)



Adaptations are all films based on already existing material, which can include novels (The Maze Runner), comic books (Guardians of the Galaxy), plays (Annie), TV shows etc.

Reboots such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are classified as adaptations because they are not sequels to existing material, but new versions of adapted material. Films like The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One are considered adaptations as well. These are not actually sequels in the sense that Captain America: Winter Soldier or Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb are, but actually new adaptations of works that continue the story adapted in the first film.

With 50 total adaptations, they were the most common film in 2014. This is the first time in at least four years that there have been more adaptations than original films. Last year there were just 40. Its still important to note that most adaptations have never been adapted, so they are still new material, aside from the anomalies like Mockingjay.

The Top Five Adaptations at the worldwide box office in 2014 were:

  1. Guardians of the Galaxy –  $772.5M (Adapted from the Marvel Comics comic book series)
  2. Maleficent – $757.8M (Adapted from the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty)
  3. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1* – $671.9M (Adapted from “Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins)
  4. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies* – $580.7M (Adapted from “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien)
  5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – $477.2M (Adapted from the Mirage Studios comic book series)



In this category are films that are sequels or prequels to other films. Spin-offs like Annabelle are also included. Easy huh? There were 20 sequels in 2014, that’s an increase of two from last year.

The Top Five Sequels/Prequels in 2014 were:

  1. Transformers: Age of Extinction – $1.1B <— Yes, billion. How do these crappy films keep making money?!?
  2. X-Men: Days of Future Past – $746M
  3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – $714.1M
  4. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – $709M
  5. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – $708.3M


Joel Kinnaman

This category includes all remakes of feature films regardless of their country of origin. There were only 3 remakes in 2014, here are their international box office totals.

  1. Godzilla – $525M (Remake of 1954 film Godzilla)
  2. RoboCop – $242.7M (Remake of 1987 film of the same name)
  3. About Last Night – $49M (Remake of 1986 film of the same name)

In Conclusion


The majority of 2014 films are brand new to the screen, either by way of Original Screenplay or an Adaptation. In the next few years we’re going to be seeing a whole new slate of long term projects make it to the big screen. We have Deadpool, the continuing Marvel Cinematic Universe, DC Comics big guns, new Star Wars films and even Lego getting amped up. I look forward to it. Hope you do as well.

  1. Adam Z. says:

    First off, really good article. Love the small details here and there.

    I fail to see the difference between SOME adaptations and remakes. How is it that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was an adaptation, but Godzilla wasn’t? I understand that TMNT has a wide range of preexisting source material (via the comics) but this version of TMNT was essentially a reboot of the old TMNT movie(s) I grew up with as a child. There were no new standout characters, the turtles, master splinter, and April were all there along with the main antagonist Shredder. The movie was an obvious cash grab to get people who grew up with the originals back into the theater. I could go on and on, but it seems as if that movie is more of a remake than an adaptation.

    • It is a fine line, especially for a film like Godzilla, which has had so much cultural influence. Ultimately, its the source material and the intention of the studio/film director. A reboot, by definition, is starting a franchise over. The Amazing Spider-Man for example, is not a remake of Spider-Man, because they weren’t drawing from the first film. They weren’t trying to redo it, they wanted a new story, taken from the comics as source material.

      You don’t need new characters to make it a new adaptation and not a re-make. The four turtles, April, and Shredder are all essential to the turtle mythos, just like Aunt May and Harry Osborne are essential to Spidey’s. The screenwriters didn’t have a film as their source material, they had the comics. In RoboCop, for example, their source material was a feature film.

      P.S. Oh yeah, it was a total cash grab.

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