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'Guardians of the Galaxy' Is No. 1 Film of 2014

It was improbable that “Guardians of the Galaxy” could be the box office winner based on U.S. ticket sales in 2014. It did not have any top-tier stars. The Marvel comic on which it was based never did well. But the odd mix of characters rocketed it to $333 million in ticket sales.

The $333 million topped, just barely, the success of several other franchises that did remarkably well, according to Box Office Mojo. The numbers prove that a series of movies based on one character and one group continues to be a probable success. “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay–Part 1” finished second in the year’s ticket sales race at $324 million. The film stars Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence. Next up at $260 million, another franchise, in this case based on a famous comic: “Captain American: The Winter Soldier” at $260 million. The first appearance of Captain America dates back to 1941.

“The LEGO Movie,” built on the success of the toy line, grossed $257 million. After that, another film based on an old line of toys: “Transformers-Age of Extinction” at $245 million. Next up, “Maleficent” at $241 million. After that, another franchise: “X-Men: Days of Future Past” at $234 million. Following that still another franchise: “The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies” at $223 million. And then “Big Hero 6” at $211 million. “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” came in at $208 million and is a franchise that began with a film starring Charlton Heston in 1968. Heston has been dead for seven years. Finally, another comic, “The Amazing Spider Man–Part 2.” The movies seem to have had well more than two parts.

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It is notable that only about $50 million separates movies three through 11.

Last year was considered a failure in terms of ticket sales, coming in at less than 2012 and 2013. Ticket sales in 2014 reached $10.4 billion. Ultimately, the failure will be blamed on there being too few blockbuster films, and that “The Interview” did not make it out on Christmas Day. Its release could have pushed 2014 ahead of the two previous years.