2012 Summer Box Office Blockbuster Contest Results

Here are the final results of the 2012 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 Ted, which made $216,309,330. The runner up on the sleeper film was Madagascar 3, which made $215 million by the close of the contest, being narrowly edged out by Ted. The most popular sleeper choice was Ice Age 4, which ended around $55 million behind those other two films. What about the most popular film of the summer, The Avengers? Well, it opened too earlier for contest eligibility, which I'm sure bothered its makers no end. Grossing $620 million domestic is poor recompense for being left out of this contest. Only one contestant selected Ted correctly, newcomer Dave Swanger.

This year, 22 people entered the contest, down one from last year.

And the winner is long-time entrant Dennis Holly, with 60 points. Dennis was last year's runner-up, but this year takes home the prize. Which is nice for him, since this year there actually is a prize. Congratulations, Dennis!

The runner-up was Brett Buckalew, with 57 points.

Tony Wong correctly predicted that Prometheus would make $126 million.

Here are the complete results, in increasing point order:

  • Matthew Merzbacher 3
  • jen_l 9
  • David Swanger 10
  • James Armstrong 10
  • Jeff Vorndam 10
  • Doug Dillaman 15
  • Joshua Kreitzer 28
  • Jeff Lau 30
  • Tony Wong 32
  • George Wu 35
  • Bjorn Olson 38
  • Erik Gregersen 38
  • Charles Odell 39
  • Atli Sigurjonsson 41
  • Don Marks 44
  • Alex Fung 46
  • Kelly Lau 47
  • Peter Beary 48
  • Yan Wong 51
  • Brandon Bentley 53
  • Brett Buckalew 57
  • Dennis Holly 60

    Thanks to all who entered.

    I chose four of the top seven films of the summer for the contest, leaving aside The Avengers. As often, a couple of my picks underperformed, though not drastically so. Prometheus and Snow White and the Huntsman were among the top ten grossing films of the summer, but were not in the same league as some of the others. Ice Age 4 and Madagascar 3 were predictable hits which several contestants named as their sleepers, and which did outperform a couple of my choices. Only one person in the contest (and it wasn't me) saw Ted coming.

    There were, as is typical, films that the studios expected big things from that didn't pay off for them. Rock of Ages was apparently not rock for the ages of people who go to movies today. Somebody thought Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was bound to be a big hit; not me, but somebody. Somebody was wrong. Total Recall, Paranorman, and Sparkle all underperformed. If, after John Carter and Battleship, one needed further evidence that audiences found Taylor Kitsch resistable, the box office for Savages provided it. It's hard to remember a case of another would-be star stepping up to the plate in three big films in less than six months and whiffing all of them. Nobody much wanted to watch The Watch, despite the presence of several big comedy stars.

    There were a scattering of films that, while not performing at the blockbuster level, did pretty well, at least up to the expectations of those who paid for them. In the action category, The Bourne Legacy did fine, and The Expendibles 2 probably well enough to drag its action hero geezers out of their recliners for a third installment. A $75 million gross for The Campaign probably exceeded the studio's realistic expectations. For an old fogies romantic comedy, Hope Springs did well enough, especially since the reviews were lukewarm. Tyler Perry continued to show he can make a profit on films at a particular price level. Magic Mike did quite well off of predominantly female audiences, apparently.

    But perhaps the two least likely and most interesting hits of the summer were The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Moonrise Kingdom, which made $46 million and $44 million respectively. The former is perhaps less surprising, since it fits solidly into a genre that has been known to appeal to older audiences, and featured a roster of British stars popular with that audience. The latter, though, while it did have quite a few big stars in it, was an oddity that could not have been made by any other director and did not seem to have the sort of legs that would keep it in theaters for more than 15 weeks. It will serve as encouragement to those filmmakers who regard "quirky" as a desirable quality, rather than the kiss of commercial death.

    For the upcoming year, it's clear that superheros and animation for children are winning formulas, so we'll continue to see more of both. The attempt to resuscitate the Men in Black franchise was only moderately successful, and the retread of Total Recall definitely was not, so I doubt there will be that much enthusiasm for replaying the hits of the 80s and 90s. The Amazing Spider-Man was reasonably successful as a reboot of a faltering series, but did not achieve nearly the success or acclaim of the very first Spiderman movie. Might make studios think twice about whether trying to restart the Batman series without Christopher Nolan or the Superman series at all is really a great idea. The latter is already shot and in post-production, but maybe Warner Bros isn't quite as optimistic as they might wish to be about it.

    If the folks at Pixar know what's good for them, they should be worried. Yes, both of their last two films made good money, but it was only good money, not great money. And the reviews for Brave, while a step up from those for Cars 2, were not what Pixar is used to. It's beginning to look like Pixar is entering the same kind of slow slide that Disney animation began to take after The Lion King; not that the films don't remain popular and pretty well received, but there's no longer the sense that each one that comes out is fresh, wonderful, and one of the events of the season. More like the filmmakers are trying to mine a failing vein of gold. Eventually, the good will runs out and you discover that no one thinks you're so special or wonderful any more. Then you make the equivalent of Treasure Planet, and people start to wonder why you're bothering.

    Next summer is already planned and scheduled, of course. Opening dates have been seized rather in the manner of European colonial powers grabbing chunks of Africa in the 19th century. The studios are offering more superheros, more sequels, more children's animation, and precious little that sounds original or unexpected. In addition to Man of Steel, we'll get Iron Man 3 (hopefully more like 1 and The Avengers than like 2), The Hangover 3, Star Trek 2 (a reboot that might have taken), The Lone Ranger (decent chance of being next year's John Carter, a film that in retrospect everyone wonders why it was made at all), Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim, Despicable Me 2 (was anyone really clamouring for this sequel?), The Great Gatsby (I wish I felt differently, but my bet for the big budget flop of the summer), Monsters University (is Pixar going back to the well too often?), World War Z, The Wolverine, a probably ill-advised attempt to reboot Robocop, Fast 6 (we'll see if the reboot of The Fast and The Furious really took), and more. You may or may not regard this all as something to look forward to.

    Back to the film contest page.