2011 Summer Box Office Blockbuster Contest Results

Here are the final results of the 2011 summer blockbuster contest announced about five 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 The Hangover 2, which made $254,427,606. The runner up on the sleeper film was Captain America: The First Avenger, which made $173 million by the close of the contest. The most popular sleeper choice was Kung Fu Panda 2 (by a mile). Four contestants selected The Hangover 2 correctly.

This year, 23 people entered the contest, up four from last year.

And the winner is long-time entrant George Wu, with 60 points. George didn't come in among the top 3 for any individual film, but hung in there and got points for all of them. He also got the sleeper right, which got him the victory. Congratulations, Mr. Wu!

The runner-up was Dennis Holly, with 55 points.

Yan Wong correctly predicted that Transformers: Dark of the Moon would make $351 million.

Here are the complete results, in increasing point order:

  • Mark Pfeiffer 13
  • Tony Wong 16
  • Bjorn Olson 19
  • Kelly Lau 21
  • Joshua Kreitzer 22
  • Anonymous 23
  • Matthew Merzbacher 25
  • Jeff Vorndam 26
  • Andy Wang 30
  • Atli Sigurjonsson 33
  • Jennifer Lo 33
  • Yan Wong 33
  • Brandon 35
  • David Swanger 35
  • David Sharron 37
  • Don Marks 39
  • James Armstrong 39
  • Peter Beary 42
  • Charles Odell 43
  • Brett Buckalew 45
  • Arnnage 49
  • Dennis Holly 55

    Thanks to all who entered.

    I chose 4 of the top six films of the summer for the contest. Super 8, Cowboys and Aliens underperformed. While Cars 2 was certainly a disappointment for Pixar and Disney, only other films on the list and The Hangover 2 did better than it. Many predicted big things from The Hangover 2, including several contestants, but I did not believe it would do that well. I doubt I would have picked Captain America from among the other contenders as the film deserving the sixth slot, though a few contestants thought it would do well.

    As usual, some expected hits weren't. Green Lantern topped the $100 million mark, but not by much, and it was vastly expensive. Zookeeper flopped big, as did the Jim Carry kiddie vehicle Mr. Popper's Penguins. Only the hard core fan boys showed up for the Conan remake. On the other hand, the new Planet of the Apes movie outperformed expectations, and it was a strong year for rude films with lots of sex talk and scatological content, with Bridesmaids particularly suprising. Expect plenty more of that.

    3D was not a big winner this summer. Yes, the top three films were all released in 3D, but their success was hardly a suprise, and almost certainly not due to their use of 3D. Many other 3D films did poorly. Even the 3D films that did well did not pull in as much of their gross from 3D venues as expected. The story is different overseas, but 3D did not bring home the bacon this summer.

    Probably the two biggest surprises of the summer were Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris and The Help, two films not made for the kids. Now, Allen's film hasn't crept anywhere close to the $100 million mark, and won't, but for a filmmaker largely regarded as washed up, the continuing popularity of the film is heartening. The Help is simply not the kind of film Hollywood expects to draw $125 million at all, much less during the summer. The past few summer seasons are littered with the metaphorical corpses of studios that tried to counterprogram adult fair, some of it pretty good, during the summer. So why did The Help succeed where others have failed? If you actually knew the answer to that, you should be running a studio yourself.

    So, what's the lesson for the future? Sequels rule. Harry Potter's done, too bad for Warners, but more Transformers and Captain Jack can be counted on. Rude comedies are good bets, since they can often be made inexpensively and sometimes hit big, even if they stink. Consider Bad Teacher, which it made nearly $100 million despite some of the worst reviews of the summer. Pixar ends its run of success. Yeah, Cars 2 made nearly $200 million domestic and a lot more overseas, but it was a big downturn from grosses they'd seen from earlier films, not to mention reviews. Moreover, it was a guaranteed hit (based on little boys who love toy cars, especially those from the first movie), while the typical Pixar film needs to make its money more or less from scratch, since they usually go with a seemingly uncommercial premise and get their audience by proving they can turn it into something wonderful. If Cars 2 indicates that they can't do that any more, the next few films they bring out could be real disappointments. Animation doesn't turn on a dime, so they're committed to the next couple films already. The results will be interesting, since the history of Hollywood is no one succeeds forever.

    We certainly can expect more superheros, and not just because the films are already in the pipeline. Thor, which opened too soon for the contest, did very well, and Captain America made a lot more money than predicted. The lesson of Green Lantern is that your leading man matters. A lot. Cast someone who doesn't fill the tights properly and you're in trouble.

    Next summer is already planned and scheduled. It's likely to be more of the same, of course, like every summer.

    Back to the film contest page.