Milestones and Turning Points
in Film History
The Year 2014
(by decade and year)
Introduction | Pre-1900s | 1900s | 1910s | 1920s | 1930s | 1940s | 1950s
1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s
|Event and Significance|
|In early 2014, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) announced a year-long global campaign to honor the studio's storied 90-year legacy. Founded in 1924 when theater magnate Marcus Loew bought and merged Metro Pictures Corp. with Goldwyn Pictures and Louis B. Mayer Productions, MGM and its legendary roaring lion logo signified the golden era of Hollywood to film lovers around the world. Since its inception, the company led the industry in creating some of Hollywood's greatest stars and was home to over 175 Academy Award®-winning films, including 14 Best Pictures. Several of MGM's more recent signature films included The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966, It.), Rocky (1976), RoboCop (1987), Rain Man (1988), and Fargo (1996).|
|This year marked the first time that the Best Picture category had only eight nominees. Up to the time of the nominations, the eight Best Picture nominees grossed only $205.2 million collectively - the lowest since 2009 (the previous low was in the year 2011, at $519 million). This was the first time since 2007 that no Best Picture-nominated film collected $100 million domestically by the time nominations were announced. Most of the films were underperforming, art-house independent films. At the time of the awards, the only major Hollywood mainstream film, Warner Bros.' American Sniper (2014) (with six nominations - and only one Oscar win) was the top grossing film at $316.2 million. It had a tremendous boost of over $300 million from the time of the nominations.|
|Birdman (2014) won four major Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Directing, Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography. [For the third time in four years, Hollywood's top honor went to a story mostly about show-business.] Its major competitors were Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Whiplash, The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game. The awards were fairly evenly spread out between the top three Best Picture contenders (two had four wins, and one had 3 wins). This marked the first year since the academy expanded the Best Picture field in 2009 that every nominee won at least one Oscar. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was criticized this year for a lack of diversity among its voting members, and among the homogeneous 20 performers nominated for acting awards. There were no women in the year's directing and writing categories (the first time since the 1999 Oscars), and all 20 of the year's acting contenders were white. There were no non-white contenders for the first time since the Oscars honored the films of 1995.|
|Clint Eastwood's American Sniper (2014) was the lowest-grossing Best Picture nominee (at the time of nominations) with $3.3 million. However, after the Oscar awards were presented in late February, it had already grossed $331.1+ million - the highest of the eight nominees, and considerably more than the winner Birdman (2014) at $40.3+ million. American Sniper (2014) ranked second of all-time among R-rated films behind The Passion of the Christ (at $370.8 million), and was on target to be the highest grossing (domestic) film of 2014.|
The winner of the Best Director Oscar was: 51 year-old Mexican film-maker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for Birdman (2014). He was the second consecutive Latino (Mexican) director to win after Alfonso Cuaron last year for Gravity (2013). The Mexican director became the fifth consecutive non-American to win Best Director, following Britisher Tom Hooper for The King's Speech (2010), Frenchman Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist (2011), Taiwanese-born Ang Lee for Life of Pi (2012), and fellow Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity (2013).
|84 year-old Robert Duvall (with his seventh career nomination, and one previous Oscar win), was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role as a taciturn town lawyer and murder suspect Joseph Palmer, in director David Dobkin's The Judge (2014). Duvall's nomination made him the oldest actor ever nominated for Best Supporting Actor.|
Meryl Streep again broke her own record of total number of nominations with 19, with a nod for her role in Into the Woods (2014). She remained the most nominated movie star in Academy history, with Katharine Hepburn and Jack Nicholson trailing behind with twelve nominations each. The actress has now racked up 15 Best Actress nominations (with two wins) and four supporting actress nominations (with one win).
|There have been no female film directors nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director since Kathryn Bigelow took home the award for The Hurt Locker (2008) - also a Best Picture winner. The number of major studio films directed by women has been exceedingly low - and has been decreasing over the last five years, hitting a high of 8.1% in 2010 and falling to a low of 4.6% in 2014.|
|Many have predicted the shrinkage of time between a film's theatrical release and home-video-streaming release. In late April of 2014, DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg prophesied that within 10 years, theatrical windows would diminish to approximately three weeks: "I think the model will change and you won't pay for the window of availability. A movie will come out and you will have 17 days, that's exactly three weekends, which is 95% of the revenue for 98% of movies. On the 18th day, these movies will be available everywhere ubiquitously and you will pay for the size. A movie screen will be $15. A 75" TV will be $4.00. A smartphone will be $1.99." Therefore, he concluded that movies would not be a solid growth business in the future.|
|A multi-platform release strategy for films, meaning that new films were simultaneously available in theatres and also online, proved in some cases that there were no damaging effect on profits. Examples of films that did well in both venues were Margin Call (2011), Arbitrage (2012), and Bachelorette (2012). Many detractors felt that same-day release for on-demand and theatrical viewings would hurt the box-office results.|
|2014 has been dubbed by some as the year of the "Christian-centric
film" - with the releases of Paramount's action epic Noah (2014),
the independent Christian film God's Not Dead (2014), Mark Burnett
and Roma Downey's flick Son of God (2014) with Portuguese
actor Diogo Morgado reprising his role from the hit History Channel's mini-series The
Bible, and Sony's Heaven Is For Real (2014). Others included:
the faith and family-focused comedy Moms' Night Out (2014), the
Christian political drama Persecuted (2014), Nicolas Cage's Left
Behind (2014), and Fox's (and Ridley Scott's) extravagant biblical
Gods and Kings (2014) starring Christian Bale as Moses.
Hollywood had been impressed by the tremendous success of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ (2004) a decade earlier, and set up numerous branch studios with faith-based divisions (20th Century Fox's FoxFaith and Sony's Cloud Ten Pictures were both short-lived, however). Currently, there is a newfound confidence in Christian-themed content, now that there is less fresh material in mainstream films (evidenced by numerous reboots, sequels, and remakes).
|Three notable film deaths occurred early in the year:
(1) versatile and prolific actor and director Philip Seymour Hoffman died at the age of 46 on February 2, 2014 of combined drug intoxication
(2) 1930s child star Shirley Temple (Black), one of the greatest screen legends of all-time, died on February 10, 2014 at the age of 85, and
(3) Mickey Rooney died at the age of 93 on April 6, 2014 - he was one of the longest surviving film stars of the classic Hollywood era.
|Two more startling deaths occurred during the summer:
(1) the stunning apparently-suicidal death of 63 year-old Robin Williams on August 11, 2014, a wild and talented comedian who soared to popularity with the Happy Days TV spin-off Mork & Mindy in the late 1970s to early 80s, and also starred in many powerful dramatic roles, such as Garp in The World According to Garp (1982), Vladimir Ivanoff in Moscow on the Hudson (1984), Adrian Cronauer in Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), John Keating in Dead Poets Society (1989), Parry in The Fisher King (1991), Daniel Hillard / Mrs. Doubtfire in Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Alan Parrish in Jumanji (1995), Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting (1997) (with a Best Supporting Actor Oscar win), Chris Nielsen in What Dreams May Come (1998), Patch Adams in Patch Adams (1998), Andrew Martin in Bicentennial Man (1999), and Seymour Parrish in One Hour Photo (2002).
(2) the death of 89 year-old Lauren Bacall on August 12, 2014, a star from Hollywood's Golden Age. Her first film was opposite her future husband in mid-1945, Humphrey Bogart, in To Have and Have Not (1944), and she also appeared with him in The Big Sleep (1946), Dark Passage (1947), and Key Largo (1948). Other diverse roles included How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), Written on the Wind (1956), Designing Woman (1957) and The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996).
|The summer box office was dismal - slumping with domestic totals down 25% from the summer of 2013 at the same time. It was the largest single summer decline in more than 30 years. No film by early August was able to cross $300 million - the closest was Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) at $257 million. By the end of the summer, the two biggest films of the year were The Lego Movie (2014) (a winter movie released in February) at $258 million, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) (a spring movie released in April) at $260 million.|
|Comic book superhero movies should have excelled in the summer of 2014, but none of them did. Aside from the # 1 summer hit Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), there were only 6 others that did over $200 million (domestic): Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), Maleficent (2014), X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) and Godzilla (2014). Summer revenue tumbled 15 percent over 2013 and hit an eight-year low.|
|American Sniper (2014) eventually became the # 1 domestic box-office hit of the entire year at $337.4 million, by March of 2015. Its closest competitor was The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (2014) at $336.9 million. However, the # 1 international box-office hit of the year was Paramount's Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014) at $1,091.4 billion (with only $245.4 million domestic), with The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014) trailing at $954.7 million.|
|North American box-office revenue was down roughly 5 percent over 2013 at about $10.5 billion in ticket sales, marking the biggest year-over-year decline in nine years. It was well short of last year's impressive $10.9 billion domestic haul.|
|2014 was the first year since 2005 that no animated film was in the top five films of the summer. There was no Pixar film to provide a family-friendly boost to the figures. The closest was # 10's How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014) at $177 million. Even comedies, usually very successful during the summer months fizzled in 2014. The best two summer comedies were the sequel 22 Jump Street (2014) at $192 million, and Seth Rogen's Neighbors (2014) at $150 million. Two summer musicals/music dramas flopped: Clint Eastwood's Jersey Boys (2014) at $47 million, and Step Up All In (2014) at $15 million.|
|Building upon the previous year's introduction of a new film rating (using the Swedish Bechdel test) to measure gender bias (or lack thereof), the 2014 Bath Film Festival (their 24th annual) introduced a new film rating - F (for feminist or female). It was awarded to films that complied with the Bechdel test (with strong female characters) and employed a significant female crew (especially directors and screenwriters). They tried to recognize the ongoing problem of under-representation of females in the film industry (in Hollywood, only 4.7% of films were directed by a woman). And the new rating would encourage films which featured women who were not just on screen to boost the male lead, and films which addressed women’s issues. This marked a possible trend in the creation of customized ratings (beyond the traditional age ratings) for specific audience niches.|
|A new free iPhone app named Cameo, a video editor and movie maker app by Vimeo, was advertised as a means to "create beautiful short films on your phone." It offered a convenient way to shoot short digital video clips (two minutes or under) - and then edit them with its cloud video platform. Cameo tauted features including HD recording, collaborative editing, and the ability to record and share videos.|
|The top-grossing actor for the year was Jennifer Lawrence, with her two films The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (2014) and X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) grossing $1.5 billion at the box office worldwide this year. She was also one of a group of women celebrities victimized by hackers who stole their nude 'selfie' photos and leaked them online. Victimized females included Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Jenny McCarthy, Ariana Grande, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Emily Ratajkowski, Rihanna, Kirsten Dunst and Kim Kardashian (who later publically bared all in a photo shoot for Paper magazine). To make a protest statement, 29 year-old star Keira Knightley went topless in the September 2014 issue of Interview magazine, and stipulated that there was to be no Photoshop retouching.|
|For the second year in a row, Forbes magazine declared Adam Sandler the "most overpaid" actor in Hollywood, meaning his movies brought in the lowest return on investment. Some of Sony Pictures' hacked emails had declared that his movies were mostly "mundane, formulaic." His two comedies Blended (2014) (with Drew Barrymore) and Men, Women & Children (2014) performed poorly.|
|Mike Nichols died at the age of 83 on November 19, 2014. He had an amazing and triumphant career spanning six decades. His works ranged from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), The Graduate (1967), Catch-22 (1970), Carnal Knowledge (1971), The Day of the Dolphin (1973), The Fortune (1975), Silkwood (1983), Heartburn (1986), Working Girl (1988), Postcards From the Edge (1990), Regarding Henry (1991), Wolf (1994), The Birdcage (1996), Primary Colors (1998), What Planet Are You From? (2000), Closer (2004), and Charlie Wilson's War (2007). He was only one of very few individuals who won the EGOT - an Emmy (4), a Grammy (1), an Oscar (1) and a Tony (9). His sole Academy Award for Best Director was for The Graduate (1967). His films accumulated a total of 42 Oscar nominations and seven awards.|
|In 2014, the popular free video platform YouTube (started in 2005) reported recent usage statistics. They received 100 hours of new content per minute, and they had more than 1 billion unique users visits to the site each month. Their two most popular categories of channels were "film" and "entertainment" - hinting that they could function as a primary platform for filmmakers to distribute their product. Some film-makers currently use YouTube as a means to provide video-extras (behind-the-scenes, 'making of' clips, interviews, etc.) to create interest and provide further marketing to a fan base. In late 2013, YouTube launched their own annual film festival, the Buffer Festival, entirely dedicated to YouTube content. Buffer Festival was a publicly-attended theatrical showcase that presented digital video content from the most prominent creators on YouTube. [Note: YouTube was already functioning as the venue to view established film festival content (usually short films), for Sundance and the Toronto Film Festivals.]|
|The LEGO Movie (2014), the 5th highest-grossing (domestic) film of the year (at $257.8 million), was also the most commercially successful animated film made by Warner Bros. Pictures. However, it was not one of the nominees for Best Animated Feature Film, to everyone's surprise. Its financial success, in part, could be attributed to a new trend called mini-content marketing. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the Vine platforms were used to keep in personal, up-to-the-minute contact with the film's fan base.|
|Some in the industry predicted that old-fashioned celluloid, 35 mm filming would soon be completely replaced by digital filming - the format chosen by many studios for their cinematic releases.|
|One way that film-makers provided an enhanced cinematic, theater-going experience was to schedule pricey special showings (with memorable, immersive, in-theatre audience participation), beyond the traditional movie-going trip to the multiplex. One example was the showing of Wes Anderson's comedy The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), which in some cases included dress-up in 1930s style attire, requests to bring an alpine postcard or pink flowers - and even requests to learn how to waltz.|
|Traditional fund-raising and grass-roots financing for films has now moved online, dubbed crowd-funding, as a new way for independent films to be funded. The website Kickstarter has become the world's largest funding platform for creative projects (for film, music, design, photography, etc.). For example, the detective TV show series Veronica Mars (cancelled in 2007) was revived as a 2014 feature film due to record-breaking funding with Kickstarter (at the time, it was the all-time highest-funded project in Kickstarter's Film & Video category, raising $5.7 million in 2013). Co-director/writer Charlie Kaufman's stop-motion film Anomalisa, yet to be produced, had almost 6,000 funders-backers and raised over $400,000 (203% of its original goal). In 2014, Zach Braff’s crowd-funded comic-drama Wish I Was Here (2014) was inspired by Veronica Mars' success in fund-raising. Braff took the same approach in 2013 - the original goal of $2 million was easily surpassed in a month, raising over $3 million with over 46,000 backers.|
|Netflix, the on-demand internet streaming media provider, became a game-changer in the way films were released and distributed, moving from its original distribution platform of videos to an acquisition and production platform. It has been seen that VOD (or Video-on-Demand) and online streaming have grown enormously in the last few years, exemplified by Netflix's pre-eminence. Netflix's business plan has been to partner with established production studios to create its content, and then to provide content to its subscribers. Netflix has aggressively pursued increased original content (such as House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, and Marco Polo), and has been able to successfully bypass standard distribution channels. [Note: Its Oscar-nominated documentary The Square (2013), about the ongoing Egyptian Revolution of 2011, marked the first nomination for a Netflix production.]|
|Late in the year, the FBI confirmed that North Korea was behind cyber-attacks on Sony Pictures. Sony was hit by hackers (dubbing themselves 'Guardians of Peace') on November 24th in response to the planned release of Columbia Pictures' (owned by Sony) satirical comedy on Christmas Day, The Interview (2014), about a plot to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. (The movie featured actors James Franco and Seth Rogen as two journalists who were granted an audience with the North Korean leader, and then were enlisted by the CIA to assassinate him.) The Sony Pictures' breach rendered thousands of its computers inoperable (caused the leak of personal employee data and some embarrassing emails by company executives), forced the company to take its computer network offline, disrupted the company's business operations (i.e., by releasing digital copies of yet unreleased films), and ultimately forced a cancellation of The Interview's release in major US national theatre chains in the wake of threats from North Korea and its supporters. However, over 300 independent cinemas showed the film around Christmas Day, and it was available for rental, with end of year earnings of about $6.1 million. Sony was expected to lose as much as $100 million on the film as a result of the state-sponsored attack. Some critics called the move to censor the film a violation of First Amendment rights and freedom of creative expression - the right of a movie studio to make any movie they wish. Other past films which have used North Korea in their plots include: Olympus Has Fallen (2013), Red Dawn (2012), Team America: World Police (2004), the James Bond film Die Another Day (2002), Shiri (1999, S. Korea), and The Rescue (1988).|
|In early 2015, the action sequel Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014) received a total of seven Razzie nominations - at the year's Golden Raspberry Awards ceremony. Its nominations included Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Sequel, Worst Supporting Actress (Nicola Peltz), Worst Supporting Actor (Kelsey Grammer), Worst Screenplay and Worst Screen Combo (any two robots, actors (or robotic actors)).|
|Tax credits and other financial incentives in other locations drove more film-making out of California. A non profit group known as Film-L.A., Inc. released a feature film study (their second annual report), stating that only 22 of 106 films (about 16%) released by the major studios in 2014 were actually filmed in California. Local film production peaked in 1997 when 64% of the top 25 films at the box-office were filmed in California. California's financial incentives typically benefit lower-budget films and TV shows. The most prominent film-making locales used now include New York, Britain, Canada, Georgia, Louisiana, Australia, and a dozen other states and countries. Only two films with budgets above $100 million in 2014 were filmed primarily in California: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) and Interstellar (2014). Even films that were set in California have been filmed elsewhere: Godzilla (2014) (filmed in Vancouver, Canada), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) (made in Louisiana), Million Dollar Arm (2014) (shot in Georgia), and San Andreas (2015) (filmed in Australia).|