Box Office: 5 Hidden Silver Linings in a Down Year

Illustrations by: Brown Bird

Dark fairy tales are just one area in which Hollywood was able to see success as domestic gross overall dropped 5.2 percent and attendance hit a 20-year low

This story first appeared in the Jan. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

1. Asia 
Not only was Chinese box office up an astounding 36 percent to $4.76 billion in 2014, but South Korea also was a boon for Hollywood. U.S. films commanded 47.8 percent of the market there, the highest such mark to date in a country that long has preferred local fare. The indie Begin Again raked in more than $25 million in South Korea, by far its largest showing anywhere in the world.

Read more What's Behind 2014's Box Office Slide: Franchise Fatigue, Fewer Big Movies

2. Patriotism 

The holiday season saw a big return to moviegoing in the U.S., thanks in part to better-than- expected performances from Angelina Jolie's Unbroken, about World War II hero Louis Zamperini, and Clint Eastwood's American Sniper, a biopic about former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. And President Barack Obama basically told Americans to see The Interview in theaters to thumb their noses at North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

3. Female-focused book-to-film adaptations 
The success of The Fault in Our Stars showed that life exists for YA outside of vampires (Twilight) and dystopian futures (The Hunger Games). Gone Girl was a runaway hit among older women (many of whom took significant others) and became David Fincher's most successful film.

4. Dark fairy tales 
Many wrote off Disney's Maleficent but were proved wrong: Jolie's grim fable beat the likes of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Captain America. The studio scored again at Christmas with the musical Into the Woods, the antithesis of Frozen.

5. Marvel 
Take heart: There's still one sure thing in Hollywood. The triumph of second-tier hero pic Guardians of the Galaxy solidifies the studio's brand.

Read more Bradley Cooper on How He Brought 'American Sniper' to the Screen and 'The Elephant Man' to Broadway