Here are the final results of the 2006 summer blockbuster contest announced about four months ago. To remind you, the point of the contest was to predict how well six big summer movies would do, and to choose the film not on that list that would do the best. The six films I chose and their final grosses were:
The eligible film not on this list that performed best over the summer was Over the Hedge, which made $155,019,340. The runner up on the sleeper film was Talledega Nights, which made $139 million by the contest end date, but was still racking up top ten grosses. It will eventually outgross Over the Hedge. The most popular sleeper choices were Over the Hedge, Miami Vice, and Click. Kelly Lau, Don Marks, Hilson Ng, Joshua Kreitzer, and Dennis Holly correctly chose Over the Hedge as the sleeper.
This year, 29 people entered the contest, down two from last year.
And the winner is Josh (no last name given), with 57 points. Josh had the best guess on X-Men, and picked up some points for everything except Lady in the Water. This year, the sleeper points did not change the winner, since Josh chose The Break-Up. The runners-up were Joshua Kreitzer and Atli Sigurjonsson (tied at 48), with Kevin Eustice just behind them, with 47 points.
Only Atli Sigurjonsson guessed a gross exactly. He hit the gross of Cars right on the nose. He was only $3 million low on Pirates of the Caribbean, which made him easily the highest guess for that film. Nobody else predicted it would gross over $400 million, and few thought it would beat $350 million.
Here are the complete results, in increasing point order:
Note: Two entrants provided no name at all on their entries. They were both automatically identified by other elements of my system as "webserveruser." They are identified as "Webserveruser1' and "Webserveruser2" in the above list.
Thanks to all who entered.
I made fairly good choices this year. My list included five of the top six grossers for the summer. (Deja vu, I said exactly the same thing last year.) However, my sixth choice, Lady in the Water, was probably the biggest single flop of the season. It made only a little over $40 million. Since I similar whiffed on including Kingdom of Heaven last year, another film that barely beat $40 million, I guess I'm establishing a new tradition of hiding a $40 million ringer dud in my list. Let's see if I continue this dubious distinction next year.
Nothing was a big surprise hit, akin to March of the Penguins last year. There were other flops, notably Poseidon, and any number of underperformers, like Miami Vice. Hollywood is talking about this as being a good year, with overall box office up. But, Pirates aside, it isn't clear what Hollywood does with these kinds of results. The grosses on Cars and Mission Impossible 3 were lower than hoped. Superman Begins made good money, but not enough to relaunch the franchise. Most of the CGI animated films (other than Cars) did rather badly, though Barnyard has slowly made a good amount of money. (Some claim this is because of endorsements from Christian family groups - what do they like so much about rudely behaving barnyard animals with gender-incorrect udders?) The Da Vinci Code was highly successful, but what does a studio do with that? Make more films based on best sellers? Look for more thrillers about Christian heresies? Pair up Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou again?
There's been some discussion that the success of Pirates and the unexpectedly good showing of The Devil Wears Prada demonstrate that strong, flashy performances in unique roles can make a film popular. Maybe . . . But that's a little like saying that a good script can make a film popular. It might be true, but it's not particularly helpful if you're in the business of making 20 films a year. Unique character ideas are hard to come by, and, even if you cast talented actors, the kind of lightning you get from Johnny Depp playing Captain Jack Sparrow is not exactly reliable.
As always, anything a studio might learn from this summer is learned too late to apply to next summer, at least in terms of big films. The big films that will come out in summer 2007 are already shooting or even in post-production. It's too late to decide, say, that CGI is a losing idea, or sequels are or are not likely to do well. We'll see the lessons of this summer, whatever they might be, and regardless of whether they're actually correct, played out in summer 2008.
Back to the film contest page.