25 top movies of 2014 at the Box Office: Did ‘Mockingjay’ beat ‘Guardians’?

Much has been written about what a terrible year it was for theater owners and Hollywood at the box office, but with the almost* final numbers in for 2014 it's time to give some love to the films that actually made studio executives breathe a little easier. Frankly, these hits are why the media has been floating more panic stories than anyone in the industry itself. The studios mostly got their budgets under control to avoid painful misfires like “The Lone Ranger” the previous year.

The past 12 months found incredibly profitable hits like 20th Century Fox's “The Fault in Our Stars” ($304 million worldwide with a $12 million budget), Warner Bros.' “Conjuring” spin-off “Annabelle” ($252 million global off just a $6.5 million budget), Sony Pictures' “Heaven is For Real” ($101.3 million, $12 million budget) or Universal Pictures' one-two punch of “Neighbors” ($268.1 million worldwide, $18 million budget) and, sigh, “The Purge: Anarchy” ($110 million global, $9 million budget).  There were many more profitable hits and, of course the requisite pricey bombs (we're looking at you “Exodus: Gods and Kings” and “Pompeii”), but overall the lack of foot traffic hurt theater owners more than the studios.  How many of those moneymakers actually made it onto the list of the top 25 grossing pictures of the year? Well, not many.  It still appears big budgets lead to bigger box office.

Find out where your favorite film ended up in the embedded gallery story below. Please note: this ranking is based on U.S. performance.  Globally, the numbers are slightly different with a certain Michael Bay franchise ruling global ticket sales.

*Finally tallies may not be available until Friday, Jan. 2.