2007 Summer Box Office Blockbuster Contest Results

Here are the final results of the 2007 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 Transformers, which made $310,578,372. The runner up on the sleeper film was The Bourne Ultimatum, which made $203 million by the contest end date. The most popular sleeper choices were Transformers, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and The Bourne Ultimatum, with Transformers by far the most popular choice. 13 contestants selected that film correctly.

This year, 29 people entered the contest, exactly the same as last year.

And the winner is Jeff Lau, with 53 points. Jeff has the distinction of being the first winner ever to win by selecting one of the grosses (for Ratatouille) right on the nose, garnering him an extra five points. He also selected the sleeper correctly, got lots of points for Ratatouille and Spiderman III, and got at least a couple points for every film. Interestingly, Mr. Lau was in last place in the 2006 contest, so it's a major reversal of fortunes. Congratulations, Mr. Lau!

The runners-up were few4th (no other name provided) and Cathleen Reiher (my wife), who were just edged out, with 52 points each. Jeff's correct guess on Ratatouille and his choice of Transformers as the sleeper narrowly saved me from suspicions of nepotism, as Cathleen had a six point lead before these factors were considered. She got top points for Evan Almighty and Spiderman III, and top five points for two other films. Three other contestants, Vic Telesino, Dennis Holly, and Brett Buckalew, were only one point further back, at 51.

In addition to Jeff Lau, Charles Odell also hit Ratatouille on the nose.

Here are the complete results, in increasing point order:

  • Ben 0
  • Dan Owen 0
  • Kelly Lau 5
  • Wes Black 10
  • Bjorn Olson 12
  • Joshua Kreitzer 12
  • Noel Murray 12
  • Nadir Ahmed 17
  • Scott Tobias 19
  • Scott Renshaw 23
  • Atli Sigurjonsson 24
  • Paul Clark 24
  • Patrick D 27
  • David Sharron 29
  • Chris 31
  • George Wu 33
  • Peter Beary 34
  • Jeff Vorndam 42
  • Charles Odell 43
  • elvin 43
  • Yan Wong 46
  • Adam Villani 47
  • Don Marks 47
  • Brett Buckalew 51
  • Dennis Holly 51
  • Vic Telesino 51
  • Cathleen Reiher 52
  • few4th 52
  • Jeff Lau 53

    Thanks to all who entered.

    As usual, I did well on five of the six films, but screwed the pooch on the sixth. I had my doubts about Evan Almighty going in, and people told me Transformers would be a big hit, but did I listen? Well, that aside, my list included four of the top six grossers for the summer, and Ratatouille made only $2 million less than the other one not on the list, The Bourne Ultimatum. Of course, Transformers outgrossed everything except Spiderman III and Shrek the Third, so that's a pretty major miscalculation. The popularity of it as a sleeper choice suggested I had a blind spot about that movie. (Though more than half of you didn't think it would be a huge hit, either.)

    At least I broke my string of including a choice that only grossed $40 million or so. Even Evan Almighty nearly dragged its way up to $100 million. They seem to be keeping it hanging around in some theaters in the hopes that eventually it will pop that figure.

    There were a lot of successful movies this summer. In addition to those already mentioned, The Simpsons Movie, Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer, Live Free or Die Hard, Knocked Up, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Rush Hour 3,Hairspray, and Ocean's Thirteen all made over $100 million domestic, with most of them adding significant amounts to that from overseas grosses. Superbad is nearly certain to join their ranks in a week or two, and 1408 and Halloween also did nicely. Sicko did well, for a documentary, but did not really meet the expectations raised by the success of Farenheit 911.

    And the flops. The biggest was probably Stardust, which was expensive and heavily promoted, but failed to draw audiences. Evan Almighty was so expensive that even a $100 million gross has to be considered a disappointment. Surf's Up demonstrated that America's lust for penguins has its limits, and some comedies, like The Nanny Diaries and License to Wed had disappointing grosses.

    The plethora of big studio hits made life a bit hard for smaller films, but a couple of them had nice successes over the summer. Once did well (considering it was made on a budget somewhat smaller than the piggy bank contents of a typical Hollywood mogul's brat) and La Vie en Rose shows you can still make money every ten years or so with an Edith Piaf film. Many other films of this type, though, did little business. It was a particularly bad market for serious films with well-known stars. Not many came out to see A Mighty Heart (Angelina Jolie), Rescue Dawn (Christian Bale),Talk To Me (Don Cheadle), or Resurrecting the Champ (Samuel Jackson), despite most of these films getting strong reviews. The theory of counterprogramming with quality adult fare was not a winner, this summer.

    The obvious big story of the summer is that the bulk of the hits were sequels, particularly films that were third in a series: Spiderman III, Shrek the Third,Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, The Bourne Ultimatum, Ocean's Thirteen, and Rush Hour 3. Other sequels, such as Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Live Free or Die Hard made up the bulk of the remaining hits. The only huge original hits were Transformers and Ratatouille, and the latter lacks sequel potential. (Which the former makes up for - we can absolutely, positively count on not only Transformers II, but also Transformers III.) Some of these strings of films look like they're running out of steam, and others are close to wrapping up their obvious futures. There are, for example, two more Harry Potter movies. Period. The lack of successful non-sequels must be disturbing to any studio executives who occasionally pull their heads out of the sand.

    The clever but vulgar comedy genre did reasonably well this year, but one needs to be aware that these films, while cheap to make, gross the vast majority of their money in the US. Successful action films, on the other hand, typically make more overseas than at home.

    On the whole, box office was up this summer, but, like many summers and years where that has been true lately, it's largely because of rising ticket prices, not larger numbers of admissions.

    And what of next year? The lead story in the latest weekly Variety was how next summer would be filled with "original" films, not sequels, leaving aside another Chronicles of Narnia film, the fourth Indiana Jones film, the next Batman movie, and another Mummy film. (A couple of decades past, that would have qualified summer 2008 as being sequel heavy.) But what they mean by original would only pass muster for that quality in Hollywood. We're getting more adaptation of comic books (Iron Man and another try at the Incredible Hulk), baby-boomer era TV series adaptations (Get Smart and Speed Racer), and remakes of beloved films of the past (The Day the Earth Stood Still and Journey to the Center of the Earth). Plus, of course, a few animated films, star comedies (with Mike Meyers and Adam Sandler, a couple of perpetual Boys of Summer), and all the sex-based comedies you could shake something stick-like at. Will Smith, a former King of Summer, will have two films out within four weeks of each other.

    In the longer term, we can count on sequels to almost all of the successful sequels of this summer, whether we need them or not. Generally, the success in reviving the Die Hard, Rush Hour, and Halloween franchises might cause studios to dig around for other things that were successful ten or fifteen years ago to see if they appeal to a new generation (of mostly pubescent boys, in most cases). Raise your hands (or something stick-like) if you're ready for another Porky's sequel!

    Back to the film contest page.