Summer box office champ contest results and winner

Back on April 22, I posted a contest to predict the Summer box office champ.

Just as a reminder, I picked one movie from each of the 18 weeks of the Summer movie season (between Memorial Day and Labor Day). Entrants had to guess the movie from that list with the highest opening weekend U.S. box office, the highest worldwide box office as of Labor Day, and the highest Rotten Tomatoes score.

(Box office data comes from The Numbers and was pulled as of the evening of September 10th.)

Here are the results for each of the 18 films:

Movie U.S. Opening Worldwide Box RT Score
Wolverine $85,058,003 $365,075,654 36%
Star Trek $79,204,289 $383,178,099 95%
Angels & Demons $46,204,168 $484,375,846 36%
Terminator 4 $42,558,390 $371,628,539 32%
Up $68,108,790 $459,766,563 97%
Land of the Lost $18,837,350 $64,614,532 26%
Pelham 1 2 3 $23,373,102 $113,952,312 52%
Year 1 $19,610,304 $57,637,279 16%
Transformers 2 $108,966,307 $830,507,142 19%
Ice Age 3 $41,690,382 $851,794,898 44%
Brüno $30,619,130 $130,788,243 68%
Harry Potter 6 $77,835,727 $917,436,218 83%
G-Force $31,706,934 $192,069,113 25%
Funny People $22,657,780 $57,788,554 68%
G.I. Joe $54,713,046 $281,744,646 37%
Final Destination 4 $27,408,309 $83,857,858 27%
Inglourious Basterds $38,054,676 $181,748,496 88%
Halloween 2 $16,349,565 $27,979,893 20%

And the same results plotted as a graph:

18 Summer movies plotted to show U.S. box office for opening weekend (blue line), worldwide box office (green bars) and Rotten Tomatoes score (red triangles); data from The Numbers (as of 9-10) and Rotten Tomatoes. Click to enlarge.

18 Summer movies plotted to show U.S. box office for opening weekend (blue line), worldwide box office (green bars) and Rotten Tomatoes score (red triangles); data from The Numbers (as of 9-10) and Rotten Tomatoes. Click to enlarge.

So, for the three questions, the correct answers were:

  1. U.S. Opening Weekend Box Office: Transformers 2 with $108,966,307.

    Second place was Wolverine, but it wasn’t even close; Wolverine took only $85 million in its first weekend.

  2. Worldwide Box Office: Harry Potter 6 with $917,436,218.

    Surprising to think a film that some consider to be a kids’ movie can take in close to $1 billion. Even more surprising is the second place finisher: Ice Age 3, which edged out Transformers 2. (Separately, I was not expecting Star Trek to be so far behind, ranking sixth out of 18 for worldwide take.)

  3. Rotten Tomatoes score: Up with 97%.

    Star Trek was close with 95%, and third was Inglourious Basterds at 88%.

A few points of interest:

  • Final Destination 4 was initially slated to open August 14, but moved to August 28, same week as Halloween 2. (It trounced Halloween 2, although both did pretty well for horror movies in Summer.)
  • I didn’t give District 9 nearly enough credit. With an unknown director and actors, and scant plot details available at the time I made the contest, I didn’t pick it as one of the 18. If I had known about Final Destination 4 changing weeks, I probably would have selected District 9 anyway, but as it was I made a bad call. District 9 out-performed about half the films on the list, but wasn’t close to the top, so it didn’t ultimately matter.
  • The worst performers of the 18 movies were Halloween 2 (taking both the lowest opening weekend and also lowest worldwide box office, although it has had less time than the other movies for that latter metric) and Year One, for worst Rotten Tomatoes score (16%). The three that performed the worst on the three metrics when combined were Land of the Lost, Year One, and Halloween 2.
  • Including District 9, there were eleven other Summer films not on my list of 18 that did well. They all are in The Numbers’ list of the 50 films that have grossed the most in the U.S. so far in 2009 — and all of these 11 out-performed Halloween 2. (None of these films beat out the winners listed above.) These films are (in order of worldwide gross):
    1. The Hangover — June 5 ($440,227,055)
    2. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian — May 22 ($410,687,642)
    3. The Proposal — June 19 ($285,837,964)
    4. Public Enemies — July 3 ($192,103,415)
    5. District 9 — August 14 ($126,517,464)
    6. The Ugly Truth — July 24 ($116,065,314)
    7. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past — May 1 ($96,736,445)
    8. Julie & Julia — August 7 ($83,260,082)
    9. Drag Me To Hell — May 29 ($79,525,024)
    10. My Sister’s Keeper — June 26 ($69,147,713)
    11. The Time Traveler’s Wife — August 14 ($63,728,728)
  • There’s a good correlation between U.S. opening weekend box office and worldwide box office: r = 0.79.
  • There’s very little correlation between Rotten Tomatoes score and either U.S. opening weekend box office (r = 0.15) or worldwide box office (r = 0.11). Some movies with bad reviews, such as Transformers 2, did very well, while some movies with good reviews, such as Inglourious Basterds, did relatively little business.
  • Looking at production budget data from The Numbers, the three most expensive films to make were Harry Potter 6 ($250mm), Transformers 2 ($210mm), and Terminator 4 ($200mm). The three cheapest to make were Year One ($60mm), Brüno ($42.5mm), and Halloween 2 ($15mm).
  • Only three films lost money: Land of the Lost (lost $35.4mm), Funny People (lost $12.2mm), and Year One (lost $2.4mm).
  • In terms of percentage of investment return, Ice Age 3 pulled in an impressive 846% return, Harry Potter 6 returned 267% of the production budget, and Angels & Demons returned 223%.

So, who won the contest and can claim the free movie tickets as a prize?

Twelve people entered the contest.

For the first question, only Dave Zatz guessed the correct answer of Transformers 2, with some sterling analysis in his comment where he correctly pointed out that the first movie did enormous business worldwide despite being horrible.

For the second question, nine of the twelve entrants correctly identified Harry Potter 6; the franchise has always done well worldwide.

For the third question, four commenters (Dave Z., Lani S., Ken G., and Jim G.) correctly predicted that Up would have the highest Rotten Tomatoes score.

So, overall, no one got all three correct. Two entrants got 0 correct answers. (Roger’s guess of Land of the Lost for all three questions may have been less than serious.) Most people got at least one correct answer thanks to question 2. Four people ended up having two correct answers. Dave Z. got question 1 and 3 right. Getting question 2 and 3 right were Lani S., Ken G., and Jim G.)

In the comments, I identified that the bonus question — who would win in a fight? — would be used as a tie breaker.

(If I had used the metric of who was closest on the one they got wrong, Lani S. would have won. But I went with creativity of bonus answer.)

Dave Z. and Lani S. both failed to answer the bonus question, so get zero points for creativity. Jim G. answered Wolverine, but didn’t back up his answer with any creative analysis. I award him one point for creativity. Ken G. answered that the Transformers would destroy all the others, and gave a tiny bit more analysis, but his answer was still very skimpy. It was more than Jim’s, though, so I award Ken three points out of ten for creativity. (Personally I think magic is a huge advantage, so I think Harry Potter would be the sole survivor. I’m open to hearing counter-analysis.)

So, with the highest score for creativity, winning the two free movie tickets is Ken G. Congrats, Ken!

This was fun, so I hope to do this again next year, and perhaps a few more folks will enter. My thanks to everyone who entered!

Two final personal notes.

First, if anyone wants to play around my spreadsheet with the analysis, please let me know.

Second, here are my brief capsule reviews of the movies I’ve personally seen this Summer, in order from my favorite to least favorite:

  • Up: Beautifully made, heart-warming, creative, funny, and very effective in 3-D
  • Star Trek: The only movie for years I’ve seen in the theaters twice; full of plot holes, but enormously engaging and entertaining
  • District 9: Unconventional, surprising, and intense
  • Inglourious Basterds: Very well-acted and effective
  • Drag Me To Hell: Chilling and fun, but too predictable
  • Harry Potter 6: Not bad, and entertaining, but felt cramped and should have been better
  • Terminator 4: Lackluster yet still worth seeing; has its moments — not as bad as most critics say
  • G.I. Joe: Awfully mindless, and preposterous even for G.I. Joe; I literally fell asleep in one part
  • Wolverine: Stupid, boring, poorly made, poorly acted, bad special effects
  • Transformers 2: Repellent, juvenile, insulting, incomprehensible, offensive

3 Responses to “Summer box office champ contest results and winner”

  1. Dario Says:

    Of the movies I saw this summer that you reviewed( star trek, Term 4, Wolverine) I agree with you about terminator 4.

    Wolverine, though not a good film, I didn’t think was that bad. It answered the questions that needed answering from the x-men films (though some answers were a stretch) and introduced some characters like the blob. I think still worth a look if you enjoy X-men. Just have low expectations.

    Star trek for some reason still bugs me. The original series was inconsistent but fun. I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who has not seen the movie so I won’t go into detail here. But I think the storyline was forced, and obviously made so they could do what ever wanted in future movies. I didn’t even understand how the bad guy had so much power. Or.. damn just can’t put into words how much the whole story bugged me. I know I’m in the minority, but I really didn’t like this particular film.

    But I’ll be first in line to watch the next movie, because I like star trek that much. And it ended at point that would allow star trek to be what it was. I just didn’t like how it got there. Though I did love the casting of the main characters.

  2. Stephen Says:

    Woah, weird, wonder why 4 people tweeted that. Spam maybe?

  3. Stephen Says:

    Now it’s up to six people tweeting this. They don’t seem like total spam accounts. What the heck is “twitterfeed” doing causing six robo accounts (and counting) to tweet this article?

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