The 2015 movies that unexpectedly succeeded at the box office

Sure things like 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' hit it big, but there were some films that did better than expected to become winners at this year's box office.

Sony Pictures Animation/AP
'Hotel Transylvania 2' stars Selena Gomez.

This year saw expected champions like “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2” top the box office, but it also witnessed slightly more unexpected hits make their way to victory. 

The “Jurassic Park” film series was always a hit, but Marvel and other properties could have conceivably kept the dinosaurs from rampaging all over the box office. Nevertheless, the newest “Jurassic” movie in 14 years, this summer’s “Jurassic World,” became the highest-grossing movie this year domestically, far outpacing previous entries in the series.

Similarly, two franchises that are traditionally strong performers had some of the best results ever for their movies. Pixar often does well at the box office, but this summer’s “Inside Out,” the animated tale of a young girl named Riley and the forces living inside her mind, became the second-highest-grossing film in Pixar’s history.

And the newest installment in the “Fast and the Furious” franchise starring Vin Diesel, “Furious 7,” became the highest-grossing film in the series. 

The increasing status of Pixar as the place for all-ages viewers who want a great story and of the “Fast and the Furious” series as a place to find a diverse cast may have contributed to the success of these films.

The science fiction tale “The Martian,” which is based on the novel of the same name by Andy Weir, became one of the highest-grossing movies this year after it debuted in the fall, showing audiences still want sci-fi. 

And while the first “Pitch Perfect” movie performed well, its sequel left it far behind, becoming one of the biggest success stories of this year.

It was a good year for animation at the box office even if the movie didn’t come from Pixar. “Minions,” which was the newest installment in the “Despicable Me” series; “Home,” which tells the story of a young girl who befriends an alien; and “Hotel Transylvania 2,” the follow-up to the movie about a hotel owned by Dracula, all performed well.

No doubt families all flocked to these, particularly in less busy times at the multiplex – “Home” came out in March and “Transylvania” in September, so they were able to set themselves apart for family audiences at a time when, for example, neither a Pixar or Disney film was available. 

While it was practically a given, Marvel was a presence in the box office rankings even beyond “Ultron” – the movie “Ant-Man” did well also. 

Other sure things that did great were the new James Bond movie “Spectre” and the newest “Mission: Impossible” installment, “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.”

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