2014 Summer Movie Pool

9/2/14

Final Top 10:

                   

The Actuals have finally been released. But due to the fact that our Current Standings page now pulls directly from Box Office Mojo, and that their webpages have already updated with the 4-day holiday results, we will just stick with the 3-day #s in our final tally. We don't want to see box offices grosses for Monday, Sept 1.

That said, we must first congratulate both Mark Adolphus and Sponge (Andrew Franklin) for having perfect 10-for-10 performances this summer. If you would have told me back in April that we'd have not one but TWO August movies make the Top 10, I'd have called you a fool. After all, in 17 years we've only had a total of 8 August movies make Top 10. But stupid me... I seemed to have ignored past history where we've TWICE seen it happen. Wayyyyy back in 2001 both Rush Hour 2 (Aug 3 finished #4) and American Pie 2 (Aug 10 finished #9) made the cut, and then in 2002 both Signs (Aug 2 finished #5) and XXX (Aug 9 finished #10) did the same. Neither one of those years benefited from 5 full weekends like this August had, so it's clearly understandable how both Mark and Sponge were able to go perfect by selecting one of this summer's biggest surprises: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sponge was the last to perform this 10-for-10 feat, having just won in 2012. However, despite both perfectly picking all 10 movies, only one of them can be the winner of the 2014 Summer Movie Pool. And based on having the better Deviation Score (24 to 26) that winner is Mark Adolphus in only his 3rd year of playing. Well done!

Mark Adolphus - 24 (6,0,2,0,1,5,1,2,6,1)
Sponge - 26 (6,1,6,2,0,2,1,0,8,0)

Mark was able to place 2 movies perfectly and put another 3 movies just 1 spot off. Sponge did an even better job with 3 movies in their correct place and 2 movies just 1 spot off, but the difference was that 8-pointer he got for How To Train Your Dragon 2 (Mark's worst difference was only 6 points). It's really a shame that one of them had to lose, but we saw this happen once already back in 2008 when Laura Logan's 10-for-10 effort only netted her the silver :( Mark wins the 1st Place prize of $450, while Sponge wins the 2nd Place prize of $90. It's always great to have a new winner of the SMP, and Mark is now our 12th different person in 17 years to win (1 of those was the 3-headed monster of Todd, Jaime and David back in 2003). In fact, this is the 5th straight year of a new face winning the pool. Just remember, everyone has a shot at winning this thing!

Now, 3rd Place proved to be a bit time-consuming to figure out, as we had 17 players with 9 correct picks. SEVENTEEN. The Scoreboard page isn't calculating properly (blah!), so the scores had to be totaled up in Excel. Yay work. The tying players and their Deviation Scores are as follows (the '2014 Final Spreadsheet' with the breakdown can be found in the Weekly Spreadsheets page):

Stephen Berg - 27 (8,1,4,0,1,4,2,0,6,1) - (2) perfect picks and (3) 1's. Most everyone took a big hit for Guardians of the Galaxy unexpectedly finishing #1, so the 8 pointer wasn't too damaging.
Mike Chapman - 29 (9,1,5,0,0,3,1,1,7,2) - (2) perfect picks and (3) 1's. Right there, but the extra point for Guardians and the 7 for Dragon sealed his fate. Wa waaaaaaa.
Mike Walters - 29 (7,4,2,3,1,4,0,6,1,1) - (1) perfect pick and (3) 1's. Needed a little bit more to work with the 7 for Guardians and 6 for Dragon
Neel Majumdar - 29 (7,1,2,2,2,3,1,1,5,5) - (3) 1's and (3) 2's. Nothing worse than the 7 for Guardians, but no perfect picks was the difference.
Nathan Austin - 29 (7,0,4,0,0,3,1,1,8,5) - (3) perfect picks and (2) 1's. Even with the 7 for Guardians, would have been able to win if not for picking Dragon #1.
Wes Whitten - 30 (6,0,7,1,0,5,3,0,3,5) - (3) perfect picks and (1) 1. Some really good selections sabotaged by the massive successes of Guardians and Maleficent.
Laura Logan - 36 (1,5,1,1,4,3,1,6,0,14) - (1) perfect pick and (4) 1's. 9 excellent selections ruined by the 14-point bomb, A Million Ways To Die In the West. That'll be a recurring theme.
Audrey Moore - 36 (2,0,2,0,3,6,1,7,0,15) - (3) perfect picks and (1) 1. Even better selections... but those 15 for West hurt big time.
Keeley Brooks - 39 (1,6,2,3,5,2,1,5,0,14) - (1) perfect pick and (2) 1's. Another one done in by 14 for West.
Wes Cole - 39 (7,1,3,1,2,2,2,7,1,13) - (3) 1's and (3) 2's. No perfect picks and 13 for West.
Falk Hentschel - 41 (8,0,3,1,3,2,2,1,8,13) - (1) perfect pick and (2) 1's. A couple 8's and that 13 for West ruined everything.
Frank Dean - 41 (8,5,3,1,3,5,3,4,0,9) - (1) perfect pick and (1) 1. If only for not flip-flopping Guardians and Neighbors.....
Mario Nelson - 43 (8,2,4,2,1,5,2,0,6,13) - (1) perfect pick and (1) 1. An 8, a 6 and that 13 for West. Doh!
Jesse Grce - 47 (8,3,3,3,3,3,3,0,8,13) - (1) perfect pick and (6) 3's. 6 straight 3's is pretty cool. But the 8's and the 13 aren't.
Dennis Berg - 58 (7,0,2,1,1,5,0,1,5,36) - (2) perfect picks and (3) 1's. Really really good picks... but ohhhh that 36-pointer for Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return. You're getting so close to winning this thing.
Joshua Hu - 62 (8,0,1,3,2,5,1,4,0,38) - (2) perfect picks and (2) 1's. Also some really god picks, but 38 points for Dorothy ended it early.
Gretchen Hinton - 84 (1,6,2,3,5,3,3,2,0,59) - (1) perfect picks and (1) 1. Nothing else matters, as it all ended when Jupiter Ascending was bounced from the summer (59 point hit).

Based on this data, my 27 pts makes me the 3rd Place Winner. Small consolation for having the title taken away from me in the last weekend, though I already knew what to expect a couple weekends ago. Still, there were some pretty enjoyable swings this summer, as first there were only a few of us considered to finish 10-for-10... and then it was Ally and Jon with The Fault In Our Stars... only to see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes blow up, making Chapman think HE had this pool won (and not passing up any opportunities to let me know)... only to then see Guardians blow up, making me think that I had this pool won... only to then see TMNT blow up AND sustain that success for the next several weeks. Grrrrrrrrr. I get $40 as my 3rd Place prize. My third 3rd Place in the last 7 years. Joy.

And of course we have our 2014 Bonehead Award winner. Or this year... winners. Whether intended or not, for the first time we have multiple players who picked the lowest-grossing movie of the summer, God's Pocket. So as a reward Kristen Fritz (now a 3-time Bonehead winner) and Tina Swartz (a 2-time Bonehead winner) get to SHARE the $10 prize. Congrats to you both! lol

To recap, this year's payouts are as follows:

1st Place - $450.00 - Mark Adolphus
2nd Place - $90.00 - Sponge (Andrew Franklin)
3rd Place - $40.00 - Stephen Berg
Bonehead Award - $10.00 - Kristen Fritz and Tina Swartz (tie)



Some observations from this summer:

1) We say it over and over, and once again comic book heroes are king. People are so enamored with film adaptations of comic books that even a barely-known storyline such as Guardians of the Galaxy can come out in early August and STILL become the #1 movie. Not just of the summer... but of the YEAR. And we also had X-Men: Days of Future Past finish #4 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 finish #6. Even TMNT finished #10.

2) For the first time in a LONG time, people did not turn out as expected to see the animated movies. Only two major releases this year, and the most successful was Fox's How To Train Your Dragon 2 at just #8 with $173M. I guess it's Pixar or bust for the summer, and if there's no Pixar then people simply won't go at all (The Good Dinosaur was originally supposed to be released on May 30, but Pixar pushed it all the way to November 2015).

3) Per Box Office Mojo, "Total domestic box office during the season was $4.06 billion, which is down 15 percent from last year and is the lowest total since 2006. Factoring in ticket price inflation, this was the worst Summer since 1992." This would most likely be due to no elite performances like we've seen in previous years. Dating back to 2008 our #1 films have grossed the following: $408M, $618M, $371M, $405M, $399M, $502M. This year our #1 was Guardians with only $274M. In fact, you have to go all the way back to 2001 to find a #1 movie that did NOT gross $300M.

4) 63 movies grossed $1M+ this summer. In 2013 there were 70 movies earning that amount.

5) The biggest surprises of the summer? Well we already know about Guardians grossing $274M (and counting) as the #1 film... from August... on a $170M budget. There's also TMNT grossing $162M (and counting) on a $125M budget and finishing at #10. We have the R-rated comedies 22 Jump Street grossing $190M on only a $50M budget, and Neighbors grossing $150M on only an $18M budget. But some of the biggest successes are movies that didn't even make Top 10. Lucy grossed $117M on a $40M budget. Tammy grossed $83M on a $20M budget. The Purge: Anarchy grossed $71M on only a $9M budget. But the best would have to be The Fault In Our Stars grossing $124M on a miniscule $12M budget. 10x the budget!

6) How about the surprise bombs? Interesting how some of the movies that were the biggest disappointments (The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For and The Expendables 3) don't reveal their production budgets on Box Office Mojo. But we do know that Hercules cost $100M but grossed only $70M. And while it was a pretty slick movie, Edge of Tomorrow only grossed $100M on a $178M budget (I blame the lame title for keeping people disinterested). And some quick digging on Wiki shows that Spider-Man barely broke even with $202M on a $200M budget, Sin City grossed just $10M on a $65M budget, and Expendables grossed $33M on a $90M budget. Ouch!

7) After a couple years of crappy Augusts, 2014's blew up the record books. Stealing a line from Chapman (who probably originally stole it from BOM), "This is the first time August grossed over $1B, the first time since 2002 that July grossed below $1B, and the only time in modern box office tracking other than 1987 that August grossed more than July." Ah so THAT'S why TMNT was such a hit. July sucked so much that people had extra $$$ to burn. Dammit!!

8) We cannot overlook the worst performances of the summer. I had originally expected Peter Glenn to finish in the cellar, as he was quite proud of his numerous blockbuster oversights. But surprisingly, his (and Tina Swartz's) 5 correct picks weren't the worst of the bunch. No, that feat went to Gray Richardson, whose score of 4 ties for the worst performance we've ever seen (matched 4 times previously) :) Congrats!

9) LOTS of entries to the Hall of Boneheads this year (17 to be exact). Not sure if anyone here was trying to "go for the Bonehead", but if so you've learned that it's a pretty impossible feat to pull off. You never know which indie films become darlings and eventially get wide releases. The bombs that were the most damaging this summer were Jupiter Ascending (6 people) which got bumped completely from the schedule, Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return (7 people), and the biggie... A Million Ways To Die In the West (19 people). Damn, that was a killer.

Lastly, my favorite movies of Summer 2014, in terms of 'most enjoyable' experiences (not necessarily the 'best' films). Saw 9 movies this summer, and my favorites were:
1) Godzilla (I must have been the only one in the country to know what I was getting into when I saw it. Yes it was deliberately slow with the monster reveal. Get over it and enjoy the destruction! IMAX was fantastic!)
2) 22 Jump Street (Been a while since I laughed that loudly at the theater.)
3) Edge of Tomorrow (Anyone who tells you it's just Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers is dumb. Or at the very least saw it pirated on a home TV or computer vs. seeing in the theater - especially in IMAX. Makes all the difference.)
4) The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (A little long as that final scene wasn't quite necessary. But certainly a fun way to start the summer, even if it did flame out quickly.)
5) X-Men: Days of Future Past (The kitchen scene with Quicksilver is enough to keep it on my list.)

I regret not seeing Dawn of the Planet of the Apes in the theater, but was pretty disappointed that it didn't get an IMAX release - instead they showed Hercules when Transformers finally vacated :(

I do hope everyone had a fun time with the pool this year. Glad to see the new record # of players, a record payout, and another brand new winner. 2015 will be another summer packed with blockbusters like The Avengers 2, Jurassic World, The Fantastic Four (yes a reboot, but one that should be greatly appreciated), Pixar's Inside Out, Ted 2, Terminator: Genisys and Minions. I'm personally most excited for Mad Max: Fury Road and Ant-Man!

I will leave you with Chapman's only entry to the Photo Gallery, which he just sent me this evening. The jerk wouldn't create a banner or any of his classic posters this summer, but he found the time to sum up Mark's and my summer in one image. Ok, it's actually pretty funny :)

 

See you all next year!!

8/29/14

   

And now for the final weekend of the summer. Congrats to Mark and Sponge, as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles finally cracked the Top 10 on Thursday night. You two are now our 4th and 5th players to ever go 10-for-10 (with Sponge being the only two-timer)! Boxoffice.com has it raking in another $18.5M this 4-day holiday weekend, but our cutoff is actually August 31. Now the only drama that remains is which of them will be the 10-win "loser". As always, placement is important... and placement is going to be the difference of $390.00. I'm just glad that TMNT isn't going to edge out Neighbors by like half a million bucks. That would have been just painful to endure. If I'm gonna lose I'd prefer to lose big. But hey, I'm still looking at a possible 3rd Place... and a victory over Chapman is always enjoyable :)

Boxoffice.com's predictions for this 4-day weekend:
1) Guardians of the Galaxy - 20.5M (279M)
2) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - 18.5M (169.3M)
3) Let's Be Cops - 11.8M (61M)
4) As Above/So Below - 11.5M (11.5M)
5) If I Stay - 10.3M (30.8M)
6) The November Man - 8.8M (10.3M)
7) The Giver - 6.7M (33M)
8) When the Game Stands Tall - 6.6M (17.2M)
9) The Hundred-Foot Journey - 6.5M (41.3M)
10) The Expendables 3 - 6.2M (35.9M)
11) Sin City: A Dame To Kill For - 4.7M (13.4M)

Rotten Tomatoes freshness ratings:
The November Man = 36% (38% by the Top Critics)
As Above/So Below = 26% (11% by the Top Critics)

Theater count:
The November Man = 2,776
As Above/So Below = 2,639

8/24/14

Current Top 10:

                   

So many new developments. First, with just one week left Guardians of the Galaxy permanently jumped into the #1 spot for the summer. It's done so well with weekly holds (less than a 30% drop this weekend) that by next Saturday it will become the #1 movie of the year. How's THAT for an August release??? Kudos to Nazario for putting it #2 on his list. You're smarter than the rest of us! Second, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes finally overtook The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to finish at #5. And third, while it breaks my heart, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles held on nicely with just a 41% drop... and now is only $4.5M behind #10 Neighbors with 7 days to go. Is there ANY chance that the box office industry could shut down for just this week? Please?? Ugh.

So let's take a moment and look at the current Deviation Scores for our two players who will end up 10-for-10 by this Tuesday: Mark Adolphus and Sponge (Andrew Franklin). Note - I've learned that the Deviation Score page is not counting properly, as its current design is only looking at players' selections WITHIN the current Top 10. The Score is currently ignoring any movies outside the Top 10, so it looks like I'll have to manually add up the scores for 19 total players. Not a big deal for me, but definitely something we'll fix for Summer 2015. Once TMNT climbs up to #10, the Score between Mark and Sponge will become 24-26, setting Mark up for victory in just his 3rd year of playing. Sponge was our last 10-for-10 winner, but this time he'll have to settle for second best.

As for 3rd Place, I count 17 players who will finish 9-for-10. And of those 17, I show only 6 projected Deviation Scores (when estimating the final results of ALL movies from #1 through #61) at 30 or less:

Stephen Berg (me) - 27
Mike Chapman - 29
Mike Walters - 29
Neel Majumdar - 29
Nathan Austin - 29
Wes Whitten - 30

These are all quick calculations with estimated final placements, so let's just wait and see how this final week plays out. If you'd like to see my #s, check out the 2014 Possible Scenario v3 document in the Weekly Spreadsheet page. And of course, PLEASE let me know if I've made an error in my calculations.

Next weekend: The final weekend of the summer gives us two more wide-release clunkers: The November Man and As Above So Below. A better bet would be the 30th Anniversary limited release of Ghostbusters in IMAX. I'm really thinking of checking that one out :D

8/21/14

     

Another August weekend of clunkers plays right into the hands of Sponge and Mark, as their prized Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is expected to pull in another $15M. If that projection holds true TMNT will need just $6M over the last 7 days to knock off Neighbors for the #10 spot. Sonofabitch!! I already know how this will end. In tears :( But at least I'll have Eva Green to make me feel better this weekend.

Boxoffice.com's predictions for this weekend:
1) If I Stay - 19.5M (19.5M)
2) Guardians of the Galaxy - 16M (250M)
3) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - 15.5M (144.4M)
4) Sin City: A Dame To Kill For - 15M (15M)
5) When the Game Stands Tall - 11M (11M)
6) Let's Be Cops - 10.8M (45M)
7) The Expendables 3 - 6.5M (27.5M)
8) The Giver - 6.2M (23.5M)
9) The Hundred-Foot Journey - 4.8M (31.9M)
10) Into the Storm - 3.9M (38.4M)

Rotten Tomatoes freshness ratings:
If I Stay = 40% (35% by the Top Critics)
Sin City: A Dame To Kill For = 43% (17% by the Top Critics)
When the Game Stands Tall = 28% (33% by the Top Critics)

Theater count:
If I Stay = 2,907
Sin City: A Dame To Kill For = 2,894
When the Game Stands Tall = 2,673

8/17/14

Current Top 10:

                   

Two weekends left and this is year's pool definitely going down to the wire. To start, none of the three new releases amounted to much as none earned more than $17M over the three-day weekend. So as a result Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fared slightly better than projected with "only" a 57% drop. It was looking like a 60% drop through Friday but I guess the kiddies came out in force on Saturday. Its two-weekend multiplier of 1.79 exceeded that of Transformers (1.75), putting it on pace to finish higher than Neighbors. Transformers' three-weekend multiplier was 2.09, so for Chapman and me to have a chance TMNT needs to stay under $137M by next Sunday. Maybe the start of school will help. Probably not.

Meanwhile, Guardians of the Galaxy had an excellent hold at just a 41% drop in its third weekend, lifting it to #4 on the list. We should expect it to be our new #1 after next weekend. Also as expected, Apes finally passed Godzilla and is now just $1M behind Spider-Man. It'll be our new #5 after the weekend. That should wrap up all the Top 9 shuffling for the summer... leaving only #10 up in the air.

Next weekend: Three more releases, and one of them (Sin City: A Dame To Kill For) is the last movie selected this summer (picked by two people). As awesome as it looks, we all know it won't make Top 10 in just two weekends. Something for these players to remember for next year :)

8/14/14

     

There's too much time left! Of all the years to have FIVE full weekends in August, it had to be this year. Ugh. Now that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has exploded onto the scene with a $65M opening weekend, all eyes are on its 2nd weekend hold. If it's anything greater than $115M by end of Sunday, Chapman and I are in trouble. Boxoffice.com expects a 60% drop, but that's not quite enough for me. Maybe the new competition will help out. This weekend we get 3 terribly reviewed films in Let's Be Cops, The Expendables 3 (picked by 7 people) and The Giver. While Let's Be Cops got a 2 day head start, none are expected to eclipse $22M over the 3-day weekend.

Boxoffice.com's predictions for this weekend:
1) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - 26M (116M)
2) Guardians of the Galaxy - 24M (222M)
3) The Expendables 3 - 22M (22M)
4) Let's Be Cops - 21M (31M)
5) The Giver - 12M (12M)
6) Into the Storm - 7.3M (31.2M)
7) The Hundred-Foot Journey - 6.8M (23.2M)
8) Lucy - 5.2M (107.5M)
9) Step Up All In - 3M (12.3M)
10) Hercules - 2.7M (68.8M)

Rotten Tomatoes freshness ratings:
Let's Be Cops = 10% (14% by the Top Critics)
The Expendables 3 = 33% (10% by the Top Critics)
The Giver = 30% (20% by the Top Critics)

Theater count:
Let's Be Cops = 3,094
The Expendables 3 = 3,221
The Giver = 3,003

8/10/14

Current Top 10:

                   

Ok, first off... Guardians of the Galaxy just shot into the Top 10 in only 7 days, and is currently #8. It'll likely be #4 after next weekend and should be Top 2 when this is done. Good stuff.

Second... damn you, Michael Bay!!! I had this thing WRAPPED UP until your newest piece of crap franchise went all kowabunga on the box office. No one cared that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had very poor reviews (just 19% on Rotten Tomatoes), or that the word-of-mouth was just mediocre (only a 'B' CinemaScore). Nope, Americans wanted their damn turtles. And $65M later this thing has a very legit chance of knocking off Neighbors for the #10 spot this summer. So not only have I accepted the sad reality that I (and Chapman) might not get a perfect 10-for-10 this summer... but now I've recognized that we have not 1 but 2 other players who very well would. What the hell?!?!

Due to the early format of our automated Current Standings I never really noticed the separation between our last-place movie (God's Pocket) and everyone's remaining films (gotta put a separation gap in there next year). All along I could see that Sponge and Mark A. had 9 correct picks, but I didn't recognize within the existing grid that their 10th picks (TMNT) hadn't yet released. I had assumed all along that they were stuck at 9. That, and the fact that neither of them (or anyone else) had spoken up over the last month of the summer to point out my oversight. Neither took Neighbors, so if TMNT does hit $151M THEY would duke it out for 1st and 2nd Place. Big props to the two of them, but that's crap for Chapman and me. Even crazier would be that Sponge would have his SECOND 10-for-10 performance in 3 years. Just ridiculous.

In all our years of playing (dating back to 1998) the best performance by a #11 movie that missed the cut was 2011's X-Men: First Class ($146M). This could be a new record for us. Should TMNT finish #10 ($151M is reachable, but not so sure it can hit $170M+ and #9 this late in the game), we'll have our 2 perfect scores plus another 17. with 9 correct picks fighting for 3rd Place. Ugh. So at this point I have to hope for either a box office scandal where the weekend calculations were about $20M off (heh)... or that TMNT pulls a Fault In Our Stars and falls on its face in its 2nd weekend. Guardians held on with the very best 2nd weekend performance of the summer, so it wasn't too badly impacted by TMNT's success. Hopefully the new competition can help put a major dent in the numbers :D

Logically speaking, however, we can look at the Weekend Comparisons spreadsheet to get an idea of just what it needs to do to succeed. The Comparisons don't get posted until the weekend's Actuals come out (typically Mondays), but the 8/4/14 spreadsheet will help for now. The likely closest comparison to TMNT would be this summer's other Michael Bay/Paramount Pictures-produced film based on a cartoon and Hasbro toy line: Transformers. That film, interestingly, had a near-identical awful Rotten Tomatoes score of 18%. The only difference is that it had an 'A' CinemaScore vs. TMNT's 'B'. Still, Transformers suffered a 63% drop in its 2nd weekend for a multiplier of just 1.75 against its opening weekend (as comparison, 8 of the other 11 movies listed on pace for $100M+ had higher multipliers). It wound up falling another 56% in its 3rd weekend, but managed to recover with just a 39% drop in its 4th weekend, good for an overall 2.27 multiplier (as comparison, 6 of the other 9 movies listed had higher multipliers). Should TMNT replicate those multipliers, we would see box office totals of $113M and $147M after the 2nd and 4th weekends. Understandably we're dealing with 2 separate franchises here. One is fresh and new (and currently a hit animated show on Nickelodeon), while the other seems a bit... tired. Let's see just how much CinemaScore comes into play.

Next weekend: The biggest name this weekend is The Expendables 3 (picked by 7 people). The first two were mid-August releases, opening to $34M and $28M. This one should fall right in line, though early tracking is only showing low-20s thanks to the current 31% rating on RT. But after this past weekend showed, who gives a crap about pre-release tracking. All best are off! The likely more-desired movie this weekend (technically "week" as it opens on Wednesday) should be Let's Be Cops. The trailers look pretty good, so if you like the TV show New Girl or just prefer stupid/fun comedies, this is for you. I'm there!

Friggin' Turtles. They've JUST announced the date of the sequel as 6/3/16.

8/7/14

       

Ah, August. The time of the year where studios drop all their wannabe hits on us at once (13 total in the next 4 weeks), hoping to capitalize on the summer spending before school starts back up. The second weekend of August has not entirely been kind to new movies, as none have opened to $40M since 2009's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra ($54M). But this year could be different as among the four new releases this weekend we get Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (picked by 19 people). Everything I've seen has it earning from $36-46M, and I've read that Fandango's early ticket sales are tracking better than both of the G.I. Joes. While the projected 2nd weekend of $44M for Guardians is very nice to see, the top spot for this weekend could go either way. Let's see just how well TMNT can do with that 17% RT rating.

Boxoffice.com's predictions for this weekend:
1) Guardians of the Galaxy - 44M (178.5M)
2) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - 40M (40M)
3) Into the Storm - 14M (14M)
4) The Hundred-Foot Journey - 10.3M (10.3M)
5) Step Up All In - 10.2M (10.2M)
6) Lucy - 9M (97M)
7) Get On Up - 7M (25M)
8) Hercules - 5M (62.9M)
9) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - 4.7M (198.3M)
10) Planes: Fire and Rescue - 3.5M (54.1M)
11) The Purge: Anarchy - 3M (69.3M)

Rotten Tomatoes freshness ratings:
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles = 17% (9% by the Top Critics)
Into the Storm = 13% (19% by the Top Critics)
The Hundred-Foot Journey = 59% (68% by the Top Critics)
Step Up All In = 50% (N/A by the Top Critics)

Theater count:
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles = 3,845
Into the Storm = 3,434
The Hundred-Foot Journey = 2,023
Step Up All In = 2,072

8/3/14

Current Top 10:

                   

92% Rotten Tomatoes rating... check. 'A' CinemaScore... check. $75M projected opening weekend... blown away! In what could very well become the highest-grossing movie of the summer, Guardians of the Galaxy obliterated every expectation by raking in an unreal $94M! No one here saw that coming, and the only people who picked it closest were Nazario O. who placed it #2 on his list, Scott G. #4, and Sam N. #5. Well done, guys. We can now be assured that Guardians will bump Fault of Our Stars from the Top 10 as early as next weekend, ending perfection for both Jon and Ally. The race is now on for Chapman and me.

So who's ready to nerd it up? If you're paying attention to the Weekend Comparisons that I post under the Weekly Spreadsheets link of the website, you're able to track the weekly box office performances for every $100M+ movie of the summer (including their Rotten Tomatoes ratings, CinemaScores, 4-week and 8-week multipliers). It's clearly not an exact science how a movie will perform based on either the critics' reviews (RT) or word-of-mouth (CS), as a movie like Transformers 4 can have a dismal RT rating of 18% yet still earn an A- CinemaScore and pull in $100M in its opening weekend. Meanwhile, a movie like Dragon 2 can have a stellar RT rating of 92%, an even higher CinemaScore of an A, but still open to only $49M. We CAN, however, use existing data to create a "best guess" scenario. In the case of Guardians (92% / A), it most closely compares to X-Men 5 (91% / A), Dragon 2 (92% / A) and Apes 2 (91% / A-). Historically-speaking, the desired 4-week multiplier for a film is 2.70 of an opening weekend box office total, and these three movies varied from only 2.27 (X-Men 5) to 2.61 (Apes 2) to 2.83 (Dragon 2). Interestingly, every movie that opened to $90M+ this summer (Spider-Man 5 $92M, Godzilla $93M, X-Men 5 $90M and Transformers 4 $100M) had a 4-week multipler under 2.27 (Godzilla was as low as 1.99). This could mean that once audiences saw it very early, they didn't need to see it again (certainly not when there are so many other options to be seen during the summer). We are, however, talking about three of the worst-reviewed movies in the grid. So what to make of all this? I personally expect it to fall in the range around 2.40, which would nearly match the multiplier of the movie it's being most lovingly compared to in terms of action and fun: The Avengers (2.48). Being a Marvel movie certainly helps this argument. My $160M total projection last week was obviously very low, as we can now expect it to finish at around $225M through four weekends and around $235M by Sept 1. That's certainly good enough for Top 4.

Next weekend: The last real threat for the Top 10 is next weekend's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (picked by 19 people). The original opened to $25M in March 1990 and finished with a final tally of $135M (not bad at all). There have been no reviews for it thus far, and the director hasn't had much critical or box office success with his prior films (Battle: Los Angeles 35%/$83M, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning 12%/$39M and Darkness Falls 9%/$32M). But this IS produced by Michael Bay... and as mentioned above even the worst-reviewed films can become box office hits. By next week Neighbors will be holding the #10 spot with $149M, so Turtles definitely has its work cut out if it wants to hit $150M in just 4 weekends.

7/31/14

     

Da da daaaaaaaaaaa! Only one movie selected this week by about half the pool (36 people to be exact), and this one could be a doozie. Marvel's marketing so far for Guardians of the Galaxy has seemingly been genius, and with a Rotten Tomatoes rating at 90%(!) from 132 reviews, the projected #s have been a dream. I've seen 10 forecasts so far ranging from $65M all the way up to $82M. Yes, please! Guardians isn't the only one with stellar reviews this weekend, as we also have the James Brown biopic Get On Up (81%) and another final film from Philip Seymour Hoffman: A Most Wanted Man (91%). Chapman cannot allow Guardians to cross $195M, but he's going to help as we're going to see it in IMAX 3D this weekend. Time to bust out those glasses, buddy!

Boxoffice.com's predictions for this weekend:
1) Guardians of the Galaxy - 75M (75M)
2) Get On Up - 19M (19M)
3) Lucy - 17.5M (79.3M)
4) Hercules - 12M (54.2M)
5) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - 8.5M (189.3M)
6) Planes: Fire and Rescue - 6M (47.2M)
7) The Purge: Anarchy - 4.8M (62.2M)
8) A Most Wanted Man - 3M (6.7M)
9) Sex Tape - 2.9M (33.2M)
10) Boyhood - 2.8M (7.8M)

Rotten Tomatoes freshness ratings:
Guardians of the Galaxy = 90% (86% by the Top Critics)
Get On Up = 81% (84% by the Top Critics)
A Most Wanted Man = 91% (87% by the Top Critics)

Theater count:
Guardians of the Galaxy = 4,080
Get On Up = 2,468
A Most Wanted Man = 727

7/27/14

Current Top 10:

                   

Hey now... check out the better-than-expected performances for both Lucy ($44M) and Hercules ($29M). While they still won't crack the Top-10 this late in the game, their combined effort did manage to finally hold Apes to a less-than-50% performance in weekend #3 (-54.8%). That sets the stage for the most critical weekend of the summer...

Next weekend: This is it! This is the weekend where Marvel can to prove to all that their "quirky" Guardians of the Galaxy (picked by 36 people) can be just as much of a hit as any of their other franchise films. With five full weekends remaining, anything above $60M should make it a lock for Top-10... put Chapman and me in the driver's seat for 10-for-10 perfection... and thus eliminate Jon and Ally. Anything less and it'll come down to the wire (a $55M opening would make things REALLY interesting). Yes, there is a lot of competition surrounding it, but how many other movies at this time of the year are sitting on a perfect 100% rating on RT through 25 reviews? Boxoffice.com (certainly the very best prognosticators of any of the 12 websites I track weekly) just upped their opening projection to $73M with a final tally of $210M. I like it!

Now assuming Guardians does blow up as expected, we'll still have the matter of Chapman vs. me for the win (or tie). 2008 was very cruel to poor Laura, as her 10-for-10 effort was wasted in the Deviation Score tiebreaker. I cannot begin to tell you how much crap Chapman has given me these last couple weeks believing that he will hand me the same result. But it's too bad he was never really good at math. I've played out many different scenarios based on current and projected #s using the "rule of 50%", and once Apes inevitably jumps up to #5 (approx. $201M) Chapman will gain the advantage over me in the tiebreaker. The only way I see that he could ensure victory would be if Apes finished #1, as that would work all kinds of placement scores in his favor. However, it's pretty easy to see that at its current pace that won't be likely. Hopefully for me, the moment Guardians crosses $151M and into the #9 spot it's back to a tie for Chapman and me. And as much as Chapman refuses to admit it, that's the most likely scenario for us. BUT... if it were to somehow hit #7 (approx. $194M) the placement scores would then work in MY favor. And regardless of where it finished from #1 to #7, I'd hold that tiebreaker edge for good.

This is how I see the summer ending up:

1) $248M - Transformers
2) $237M - Maleficent
3) $233M - X-Men
4) $204M - Apes
5) $203M - Spider-Man
6) $200M - Godzilla
7) $193M - Jump Street
8) $172M - Train Dragon
9) $160M - Guardians
10) $150M - Neighbors

The "rule of 50%" says I need a $70M opening to have a shot at $194M after five weekends. This summer has already shown us that Maleficent ($69M opening) was able to hit $202M after five, and Apes ($72M opening) was able to hit $172M through three (a pace for $204M after five). Now c'monnnn! Grab your friends and let's all go see Guardians together in IMAX 3D!

7/24/14

       

No real contenders this weekend, and that spells doom for Kui who badly needed Hercules to tear it up. As for the current Top 10 films, this will be the weekend that Transformers jumps up to #1 and X-Men falls to #3. Meanwhile, Apes is fast approaching $200M and could easily finish at #4 when this thing is done. Oh, and Guardians of the Galaxy is at a perfect 100% rating on RT through 19 reviews. Score!

Boxoffice.com's predictions for this weekend:
1) Lucy - 38M (38M)
2) Hercules - 21M (21M)
3) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - 20.5M (176.3M)
4) The Purge: Anarchy - 11.5M (53M)
5) Planes: Fire and Rescue - 10M (35M)
6) Sex Tape - 6.5M (27.4M)
7) Transformers: Age of Extinction - 5.7M (237.5M)
8) Tammy - 4.3M (78.9M)
9) The Fluffy Movie - 3.7M (3.7M)
10) And So It Goes - 3.5M (3.5M)
11) 22 Jump Street - 3.2M (186.3M)

Rotten Tomatoes freshness ratings:
Lucy = 61% (54% by the Top Critics)
Hercules = 69% (N/A by the Top Critics)
The Fluffy Movie = N/A (N/A by the Top Critics)
And So It Goes = 15% (11% by the Top Critics)

Theater count:
Lucy = 3,172
Hercules = 3,595
The Fluffy Movie = 432
And So It Goes = 1,760

7/20/14

Current Top 10:

                   

A crappy week for newcomers means a very nice holdover for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. We already knew Apes was a lock after its $73M opening, but just a 50% drop in weekend #2 has it on pace for over $200M. And that means it should finish at least at #4 for the summer. That's great news for most of the 52 who picked it... but not so much for Kui who instead rolled with Hercules and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Not to say he doesn't have a chance at winning; it just means he cannot go 10-for-10 any longer. Same for David L., whose Planes: Fire and Rescue couldn't even hit the $20M projection this weekend. Oops. Or for me, as my tiebreaker battle with Chapman really takes a hit if Apes reaches #5. Noooooooooooo!

And then there were two. Or is it really just two? After that hideous 67% second weekend drop for The Fault In Our Stars, I essentially wrote the movie off. However, here we are in late July and it's still chugging along at #10 with $121M. There's a lot of excitement built up for Guardians of the Galaxy (The Wrap shows tracking at $60M+), but what if it opens to just $50M, or even something in the 40s? Will there be enough time to reach $121M+ when it's got to do battle with TMNT the very next weekend? At this moment we can say that it's still a four-person race for perfection... but instead of David L. and Kui we now have Jon and Ally against Chapman and me.

Next weekend: Here is the second of three very important weekends as Hercules (picked by 5 people) makes its appearance. This movie is critical to Kui's chances at winning, so hey, no pressure. But it's not the most-hyped movie of the weekend, as that honor goes to Lucy (seriously, the marketing strategies for Lucy and Hercules have been like night and day). Universal moved it up a weekend to take advantage of the real lack of competition, and of course to separate it further from the (hopeful) Marvel explosion. Lucy had one person pick it... and the best part is that it was picked at NUMBER ONE on that person's list. Awesome!! Lastly, we also get Step Up All In (picked by 1 person). The first four movies grossed $65M, $58M, $42M and then $35M. I'm sure you can see where this is going.

7/18/14

     

Ugh, this last month has been just full of crappy movies. Other than last week's Apes and Boyhood we have to go back to June 13 to find a movie that got a rating higher than 55% positive. This weekend we get three more turds in The Purge: Anarchy (picked by 4 people), Sex Tape (2 people) and Planes: Fire and Rescue (9 people, including David Logan's big shot at perfection). David is literally BEGGING everyone to go see it, but the sad reality is that nothing this weekend is expected to gross higher than $28M. In fact, all three movies are projected lower now than they were a week ago. Not good. Looks like Perfection is down to three.

Boxoffice.com's predictions for this weekend:
1) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - 34.5M (138.8M)
2) The Purge: Anarchy - 28M (28M)
3) Sex Tape - 23M (23M)
4) Planes: Fire and Rescue - 20M (20M)
5) Transformers: Age of Extinction - 7.7M (225M)
6) Tammy - 7.2.M (71.1M)
7) 22 Jump Street - 4.1M (180.1M)
8) How To Train Your Dragon 2 - 3.9M (161M)
9) Earth To Echo - 3.4M (32.2M)
10) Maleficent - 2.9M (228.1M)

Rotten Tomatoes freshness ratings:
The Purge: Anarchy = 49% (42% by the Top Critics)
Sex Tape = 15% (0% by the Top Critics. Whoa!)
Planes: Fire and Rescue = 51% (56% by the Top Critics)

Theater count:
The Purge: Anarchy = 2,805
Sex Tape = 3,062
Planes: Fire and Rescue = 3,826

7/13/14

Current Top 10:

                   

After last weekend's snoozefest the box office bust out in a big way, thanks to a whopping $73M for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (the 5th biggest opener of the summer). By next weekend it'll be Top 10, creating a 9-for-9 scenario for this year's serious contenders. Each of the next three weekends will be vital for the four of us still seeking 10-for-10, as we get David Logan's Planes: Fire and Rescue on 7/18, Kui's Hercules on 7/25, and then Chapman's and my Guardians of the Galaxy on 8/1. Keep an eye on the current Top 10 as we just saw Transformers jump a couple spots up to #3 and Dragon climb a spot to #7. In two weekends we should see Transformers at #1 and Malificent possibly staying there at #2.

As for the Actor Q score poll question for that has been up for a few weeks, it's Hugh Jackman that is the most-liked actor this summer with 30% of the votes, followed by a tie between Channing Tatum and Mark Wahlberg (20% each). No love at all for The Rock, Chris Hart, or even our much better Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield). In the national survey run by The Wrap it was Morgan Freeman who topped the list (he wasn't an option in ours due to the limited choices) followed by Kevin Hart. Clearly, this group of SMP players isn't quite as impressed.

Next weekend: The first of three very important weekends as we get the releases of Planes: Fire and Rescue (picked by 9 people), The Purge: Anarchy (4 people) and Sex Tape (2 people). Planes is David's shot at perfection, and I'm getting a little nervous considering that there hasn't been a movie this year for parents to take their little kids to see. Dragon wasn't exactly cute and cuddly, and there surprisingly wasn't a Pixar fim this summer. It's been a disappointing summer for sequels, but maybe this will be the big Disney hit (the original made $90M in 2013). The original Purge was a pleasant surprise with $64M in 2013, including a $34M opening. The sequel takes the chaos to the streets, so there might be a bit of been there-done that. This summer has been very kind to R-rated comedies with Jump Street at $172M and counting, and Neighbors at $148M. Is there room for a third in Sex Tape? (Heh, I laughed as soon as I saw what I had typed, so the joke stays :D) The first two were spaced a month apart giving both room to breathe, and look at that... another month gap. Box Office doesn't think any of the three will surpass $29M, so we'll see if they have a change of heart by Wednesday.

7/10/14

   

After a week of sheer crap we get some of the best reviews we've ever seen. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (picked by 52 people) is looking at a near-$70M weekend thanks in part to a fantastic 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (that would tie X-Men: Days of Future Past as the highest rated wide release of the summer). But even more impressive is the perfect 100% rating (from 77 reviews!) for the IFC Films-released Boyhood (picked by 2 people). If you're not familiar, it's a movie that was filmed over TWELVE YEARS with the same cast, and was directed by Richard Linklater (best known for directing Dazed and Confused and School of Rock). While I'm not too much of an indie movie fan, this is certainly something I'll see. Unfortunately, it's only playing in 5 theaters this weekend. I'll be shocked if it doesn't go wide soon.

Boxoffice.com's predictions for this weekend:
1) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - 67M (67M)
2) Transformers: Age of Extinction - 19M (212.5M)
3) Tammy - 12M (56.5M)
4) 22 Jump Street - 6.5M (171.8M)
5) How To Train Your Dragon 2 - 6.2M (152.6M)
6) Earth To Echo - 5.4M (24.5M)
7) Deliver Us From Evil - 5.3M (25.7M)
8) Maleficent - 4.3M (222.1M)
9) Begin Again - 3.5M (5.8M)
10) Jersey Boys - 3M (42.2M)
11) Think Like a Man Too - 2.7M (62.1M)

Rotten Tomatoes freshness ratings:
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes = 92% (86% by the Top Critics)
Boyhood = 100% (100% by the Top Critics)

Theater count:
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes = 3,967
Boyhood = 5

7/6/14

Current Top 10:

                   

I hope everyone really enjoyed their holiday break because Hollywood surely didn't. This weekend's collection of Top 12 ($118.5M total gross) was down a whopping 47% from the same in summer 2013. It's actually the worst Fourth of July weekend performance since 1999 ($116.5M). Whether it was the East coast storm or just crappy product, everything suffered badly as Transformers 4 fell 64% from last weekend, Tammy did only $32M in 5 days, Deliver Us From Evil did $15M and Earth To Echo did $13M. And hey, there's Begin Again with a total of $1.8M. You can cross off all the newcomers.

Next weekend: We should get right back on track with the awesomeness with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (picked by 52 people). The marketing has been intense, and at this point all it really needs to do is $125M to make the cut. It's already at 94% positive on Rotten Tomatoes through 17 reviews, so those who picked it should feel quite good about their selection. The Hollywood Reporter even says, "In the annals of sequels, Dawn is to Rise of the Planet of the Apes what The Empire Strikes Back was to Star Wars -- it's that much better." Sweet. We also have the indie film Boyhood (picked by 2 people) which has a 100% rating on RT from 28 reviewers. That should help it eventually go wide, but that won't be enough.

7/4/14

       

Hope everyone is having a great Fourth of July weekend! Just flew back from Boston Friday night, and I was lucky enough to catch their firewords spectatcular on July 3rd thanks to Hurricane Arthur and his inclement weather. Unfortunately for the locals, that meant a rushed Boston Pops and fireworks presentation... and no 1812 Overture. But good for me, and that's all that matters, right? Top it off with a tour of Fenway Park, a 16-9 drubbing by the Cubs on Wednesday night (nice!) and a Cubs' sweep of the Red Sox, and it was a highly productive trip for me :D


 

Notice how I led the weekend preview with a personal experience? That's because everything coming out this weekend SUCKS. Four wide release movies, and their Rotten Tomatoes ratings are 27%, 32%, 51% and 13%. Ewww. The 13 of you who picked these clunkers are really going to be sad. And I don't even know what's going on with Begin Again. Looks like it might now get a wider release on 7/11. We'll see.

Boxoffice.com's predictions for this weekend:
1) Transformers: Age of Extinction - 38.5M (120.9M)
2) Tammy - 22.5M (37.9M)
3) Deliver Us From Evil - 12.5M (20.3M)
4) Earth To Echo - 11M (16.8M)
5) 22 Jump Street - 9.5M (158.8M)
6) How To Train Your Dragon 2 - 9M (140.8M)
7) Maleficent - 6.2M (205M)
8) Think Like a Man Too - 5.2M (50.3M)
9) Jersey Boys - 4.5M (29.5M)
10) Edge of Tomorrow - 3.3M (85.8M)
11) The Fault In Our Stars - 3.2M (111.9M)
12) America - 3.1M (3.1M)

Rotten Tomatoes freshness ratings:
Tammy = 27% (24% by the Top Critics)
Deliver Us From Evil = 32% (30% by the Top Critics)
Earth To Echo = 51% (43% by the Top Critics)
America = 13% (0% by the Top Critics)

Theater count:
Tammy = 3,465
Deliver Us From Evil = 3,045
Earth To Echo = 3,230
America = 1,105

6/29/14

Current Top 10:

                   

Man, this weekend it was Tranformers: Age of Extinction... and then everything else. T4 absolutely tore it up with the first $100M opening weekend of the summer, while the 2nd place movie only hit $15M. There is no doubt that T4 will be our #1 movie this year, and that should take place after two more weekends. As for the other movies currently on the list, Maleficent leapfrogged both Spidey 4 and Godzilla to become our current #2. And at the rate it's going (just a 36% drop this weekend) it's quite possible it'll stay at #2 by the end. In another weekend Jump Street will surpass Neighbors, and Dragon 2 should eventually do the same (though veeeeeryyyy slooooowlyyyy).

8 is now the magic # on the Scoreboard, and with the assumption that Fault of Our Stars misses the cut after bleeding a slow death I still count only four players as a true 8-for-8 (Chapman, David L., Kui and me). We can't all be right, so I wonder which of the remaining 16 selected movies will ruin our plans of perfection.

Next weekend: It's another holiday weekend as Friday is the 4th of July, which should lead to greatly increased attendances on both Thursday and Friday. But will any of the new entries benefit from it? This could be the very worst collection of July 4th Weekend movies I've ever seen. On Wednesday we get the horror flick Deliver Us From Evil (picked by 2 people), the nausea-inducing handcam kid's flick Earth To Echo (picked by 1), and the terribly unfunny-looking Tammy (picked by 8). On Friday we get the indie film Begin Again (picked by 1). After last year's surprise horror film The Conjuring shocked everyone to make the Top 10, Evil cannot entirely be dismissed. But good luck matching Conjuring's 86% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

As for my holiday, I'll be living it up in Beantown again for another baseball game in a truly historic interleague matchup (but this time not as a Sox fan). And since the Sox are nearly as bad as the Cubs this year, I just might get to see my boys win the game. Let's go Cubs!!!!! The game will be on ESPN, so keep an eye on the low deck behind first base. "We're going streaking!" Next weekend's preview will definitely be delayed.

 

6/27/14

 

We're nearly at the midpoint of our summer, and the first half closes out in style (certainly not substance) with Transformers: Age of Extinction (picked by 60 people with an average placement of 3.0). There's no doubt that it'll be Top-10 (oops for the 3 of you who skipped it), or even Top-5. Even despite the horrific reviews (worst of the franchise) and unnecessarily-long running time (2:37), I still expect it to be #1 in a weak summer. People will still go see it. Perfect example... my brother called me Thursday afternoon to frustratingly ask why it's gotten such a terrible grade on RT (as he was en route to the theater to buy tickets for the premiere). Looking online I found the most perfect review that read "There is scarcely a moment in its 165 minutes that does not involve frenzied screaming, smashing or shooting.". His reply: "Cool." His payment at the box office for two IMAX 3D tickets: $35. Ugh. I also loved this review's gem: "Congratulations, Denise Richards; you're no longer the most laughable movie scientist of all time.". I can just hear Jay Sherman declare, "It stinks!" :D

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed T1 and T3, and T2 continues to grow on me. But to show just how ridiculous the franchise has gotten, check out these numbers:

2007 - Transformers - Running Time: 2:23 - RT ratings 57%/68% - Final tally: $319M
2009 - Transformers 2 - Running Time: 2:29 - RT ratings: 19%/19% - Final tally: $352M
2011 - Transformers 3 - Running Time: 2:34 - RT ratings: 36%/23% - Final tally: $402M
2014 - Transformers 4 - Running Time: 2:37 - RT ratings: 18%/6% - Final tally: $???

They keep getting longer... the reviews essentially keep getting worse... yet it makes more and more $$$. And I'll still go see it on Monday. Wheeeeeee!

Boxoffice.com's predictions for this weekend:
1) Transformers: Age of Extinction - 99M (99M)
2) 22 Jump Street - 14.5M (139.3M)
3) How To Train Your Dragon 2 - 14.2M (123.2M)
4) Think Like a Man Too - 12M (50M)
5) Maleficent - 8.7M (202.5M)
6) Jersey Boys - 7.2M (26.8M)
7) The Fault In Our Stars - 5.2M (110.0M)
8) Edge of Tomorrow - 5.1M (84.3M)
9) X-Men: Days of Future Past - 3.5M (223.7M)
10) Chef - 1.2M (18.9M)

Rotten Tomatoes freshness ratings:
Transformers: Age of Extinction = 18% (6% by the Top Critics)

Theater count:
Transformers: Age of Extinction = 4,233

6/22/14

Current Top 10:

                   

It was a quiet weekend as no new release grossed more than $30M. As expected, Jersey Boys only pulled in $13.5M. That would 4 straight clunkers directed by Clint Eastwood. It sure didn't feel like a summer movie, and its opening was even worse than 2012's bomb, Rock of Ages ($14.4M). Might have played better at Christmas time. At $30M, Think Like a Man Too couldn't match either the original's opening or this year's projections. I guess everyone is saving their $$$ for next weekend. No change in our Top 10 with the exception of a couple flip-flops. The big surprise is how much How To Train Your Dragon 2 is struggling. It's nice to see only a 49% drop from last weekend, but then again last weekend wasn't that hot to begin with. I believe we all expected more from the biggest animated movie of the summer. At this pace it could have a hard time hitting $150M. And Blended keeps hanging on!

I found our Actress Q score poll interesting, as from 26 votes there was no love at all for Angelia Jolie or Melissa McCarthy (zero votes each). That contradicts a recent poll run by The Wrap, whose study of adults 18-49 had McCarthy #2 and Jolie #3 behind Jennifer Lawrence. Here, Zoe Saldana and Shailene Woodley tied atop the list with 6 votes apiece, while Jennifer Lawrence got 5 votes. I personally think we collectively have better taste. Next up... the Actors.

Next weekend: This could be the biggest of biggies, as we finally get a movie that has a shot at crossing the $250M plateau. It hasn't exactly been a struggle this summer, as we already have 4 movies that could eclipse $200M. But it also means there's room for Transformers: Age of Extinction (picked by 60 people) with to run away with the #1 spot (15 people have it as their top pick). Will fans embrace Mark Wahlberg and the Dinobots? I'm thinking YES. At least moreso than the 157 min running time. These movies just keep getting longer! Only 3 early reviews so far, and they're positive despite this gem from Variety: "Who cares if the human characters are even more dispensable and the plot even more scattershot than usual? Heh. Minds will be turned into mush.

6/20/14

   

Two new releases, and nearly everyone is taking the weekend off. The "big" release is a movie that no one picked, Think Like a Man Too. The original grossed $91M in April 2012, and the sequel is expected to open to low-to-mid $30s. And that's despite only being in 2,200 theaters and getting terrible reviews. We did, however have two players take a flyer on Jersey Boys. Unfortunately for them it's only expected to do about $12M. Personally, I'm shocked that my dad didn't select it. But I already know that he and my mom will be first in line at the theater Sunday morning. That'll be his first theatrical viewing of the summer. So many good options so far this summer, and he's making it... Jersey Boys. I guess the apple fell far from the tree :D

Boxoffice.com's predictions for this weekend:
1) Think Like a Man Too - 34M (34M)
2) 22 Jump Street - 28M (110.3M)
3) How To Train Your Dragon 2 - 27.5M (97.5M)
4) Maleficent - 13M (185.8M)
5) Jersey Boys - 12M (12M)
6) Edge of Tomorrow - 10.2M (74.2M)
7) The Fault In Our Stars - 8.8M (98.8M)
8) X-Men: Days of Future Past - 6.2M (216.7M)
9) Godzilla - 1.9M (194.9M)
10) A Million Ways To Die In the West - 1.7M (40.3M)

Rotten Tomatoes freshness ratings:
Think Like a Man Too = 23% (18% by the Top Critics)
Jersey Boys = 54% (64% by the Top Critics)

Theater count:
Think Like a Man Too = 2,225
Jersey Boys = 2,905

6/15/14

Current Top 10:

                   

We have two new (and seemingly permanent) additions to the Top 10, however, the movie that appears to be on the bubble isn't the one we expected. 22 Jump Street's $60M opening weekend was the FIFTH biggest ever for an R-rated movie (just to share, Neighbors' $49M is the 15th biggest). I see no way how Jump misses the cut. How To Train Your Dragon 2, on the other hand, underwhelmed with "only" $50M. This was a movie selected by nearly all of our participants, and whose average placement was #3. That said, I again see no way how it misses the cut as the word of mouth has been great (an 'A' Cinemascore) and it has no animated competition until July 18. Just keep expectations in check.

Regarding our other movies this summer, both "Millions" (Ways To Die and Dollar Arm) finally dropped out of the Top 10. X-Men became the first movie to crack $200M and is currently #1 on the list. Spider-Man keeps limping along as another underachiever, though it will get to $200M eventually. Godzilla may get there at the same time, and even Maleficent has a shot. Most interesting this week was the 2nd weekend drop for Fault In Our Stars. Despite an eye-opening $48M start it was identified that it also suffered the 7th biggest Friday-to-Saturday percentage drop of all time (-51.59%). That already put it at risk for not making the cut... and thanks to a 2nd weekend drop of 67.2% (just $15M for a total of $81M) we can now pull the plug on it (see what I did there?).

So with Fault now a non-contender, I show 7 as the magic # in the Scoreboard. And I see only 4 players who are a true 7-for-7 (Chapman, David L., Kui and me). We 4 all have Transformers and Planet of the Apes 2, but while Chapman and I have identical picks (jerk) including Guardians of the Galaxy, David instead took Planes: Fire and Rescue while Kui took Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Everyone else needs to just hope for something else to jump in and blow things up.

Next weekend: A week to simply relax, as we only get Jersey Boys (picked by 2 people). I guess the studios all wanted to avoid the weekend before the explosion that is Transformers. Right now Jersey is showing 0-for-3 on Rotten Tomatoes, and Box Office only has its opening weekend set at $12M. Move along.

6/13/14

   

It's a weekend of familiarity as we get the sequels to How To Train Your Dragon and the surprisingly successful 21 Jump Street. Dragon 2 (picked by 57 players) isn't screwing around by releasing in the 16th-most theaters ever. However, for a highly-acclaimed (check out Rotten Tomatoes) animated film with no Pixar competition this summer, I'd have expected more than just a mid-60s opening. For the latter we simply cross the road to 22 Jump Street (picked by 38). The box office projections have continued to climb over the past several weeks, and clearly the critics are on board. I'll tell you, I saw it last night in a packed theater (AMC's largest) and what started off as kinda funny turned into VERY funny. It's stupid. It's silly. And it's just I wanted to see.

Boxoffice.com's predictions for this weekend:
1) 22 Jump Street - 65M (65M)
2) How To Train Your Dragon 2 - 64M (64M)
3) Maleficent - 18.5M (162.7M)
4) The Fault In Our Stars - 18M (83.3M)
5) Edge of Tomorrow - 14M (54.5M)
6) X-Men: Days of Future Past - 7.7M (204M)
7) Godzilla - 3.3M (191.4M)
8) A Million Ways To Die In the West - 3.2M (37M)
9) Neighbors - 2.8M (143.5M)
10) Blended - 1.9M (40.5M)
11) Chef - 1.8M (13.7M)

Rotten Tomatoes freshness ratings:
How To Train Your Dragon 2 = 92% (93% by the Top Critics)
22 Jump Street = 83% (90% by the Top Critics)

Theater count:
How To Train Your Dragon 2 = 4,253
22 Jump Street = 3,306

6/8/14

Current Top 10:

                   

Our pool just took an interesting turn as we have our first surprise contender. The Fault In Our Stars delivered as projected (this week, at least) with a $48M opening. Yeah, didn't see that one coming, as that opening now puts it right in the thick of the race. It'll be interesting to see the 2nd weekend percentage drop for Fault, as it realistically will be fighting with Neighbors, 22 Jump Street, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Guardians of the Galaxy for those final 3 spots (we already know that Transformers 4 and How To Train Your Dragon 2 are locks). Fault's $48m may have been the biggest opening ever for a (non-Twilight) Teen Romance film, but it did suffer the 7th biggest Friday-to-Saturday percentage drop of all time (-51.59%). That could be a bad sign for longevity.

With Neighbors approaching $150M, the cutoff for Top 10 has seemingly been raised. Until we see how Jump, Dawn and Guardians all perform in their opening weekends (or if Fault happens to tumble something like 70% in weekend #2) we'll have to say that 6 is now the magic # in the Scoreboard. And right now the only players presently sitting on 6-for-6 performances are Ally Mauro, Jon Eyres and Anthony Baroody. Jon, it turns out, has the exactly same picks as Ally. Ooooooooooo.

The current Top 10 is now comprised of big-budget movies as the indies have finally been squeezed out. Edge of Tomorrow sadly matched projections to do just $29M this weekend. It no longer has a chance.

Next weekend: Get ready for a HUGE weekend as we have 2 movies that the majority of players took. How To Train Your Dragon 2 (taken by 57 people) and 22 Jump Street (taken by 38) both look like no-brainers. Yes it's early, but the critics REALLY seem to be in love with both so far, as Dragon is 100% after 8 reviews, while Jump is 97% after 39 reviews. Box Office.com currently has both grossing $60M+. And by the end of next weekend we should have a new #1 movie in Days of Future Past.

6/5/14

   

First off, a moment of silence for the 6 players who just lost one of their summer selections when Jupiter Ascending bailed to February 2015. Ouch. We saw this happen in 2013 when G.I. Joe: Retaliation pulled the big surprise and jumped ship... hanging 18 of us out to dry (I still call BS as the domino-effect of movie shuffling ended up costing me a perfect 10-for-10!). As David Gardner just said so perfectly, "I got Tatum'd again." The biggest victim appears to be Anthony Baroody, who had been one of the very few with a perfect 5-for-5 so far this summer. It sucks, man. I've been there.

A good weekend for respectable films, as after the last weekend of hate the critics seem to be in love with this week's offerings. No surprise that The Fault In Our Stars (picked by 11 people) has high marks with a 79% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but the real shocker is Edge of Tomorrow (picked by 9) at 89% from 145 reviews. Despite the super strong rating, Edge (I really just want to call it by its original title, All You Need Is Kill) is only looking at a $30M opening. I've been looking forward to this one for a while. It'll be IMAX 3D for me! Can Fault really pull off $49M? That's a big jump in projected earnings since just this past Sunday. Maybe back-to-back weekend releases of chick flicks will cancel each other out. Otherwise we'll have to listen to Ally (last year's champ) for the rest of the summer ;)

Boxoffice.com's predictions for this weekend:
1) The Fault In Our Stars - 49M (49M)
2) Edge of Tomorrow - 30M (30M)
3) Maleficent - 29M (122.5M)
4) X-Men: Days of Future Past - 17M (191.5M)
5) A Million Ways To Die In the West - 7.2M (30M)
6) Godzilla - 6M (185M)
7) Neighbors - 5M (137.6M)
8) Blended - 4.8M (37.2M)
9) Chef - 2.9M (10.6M)
10) The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - 2.1M (196.5M)
11) Million Dollar Arm - 2M (31.5M)

Rotten Tomatoes freshness ratings:
The Fault In Our Stars = 79% (81% by the Top Critics)
Edge of Tomorrow = 89% (86% by the Top Critics)

Theater count:
The Fault In Our Stars = 3,173
Edge of Tomorrow = 3,490

6/2/14

Current Top 10:

                   

Another weekend, another Top 10 movie. This time it's Disney's turn, as Maleficent met expectations by pulling in $69M. It may not have had the same opening as 2010's Alice In Wonderland ($116M), or even 2013's Oz The Great and Powerful ($79M). But it did eclipse 2012's Snow White and the Huntsman ($56M), and that one finished #8. The only concern for longevity is its less-than-desirable 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But the large start is expected to be enough to make it a lock. That gives us a legit 5 movies, especially with Neighbors at $129M and counting. At this pace it could seriously push $145-150M. What won't make the cut, however, is A Million Ways to Die In the West, which couldn't even match the lowest of projections at $25M. Instead it clunked to $16M. Looks like the one final way to die in the West was to select it. 5 is the magic number in the Scoreboard, and now we are down to 11 players who have correctly chosen only the Top 5.

Next weekend: Can we make it 6 weekends in a row? Both Edge of Tomorrow (picked by 9 people) and The Fault In Our Stars (picked by 11) are getting excellent early reviews (88% and 80%, respectively). However, neither is tracking above $36M. Works for me!

And as for our Atlanta weekend, it was a highly productive one for Chapman, Todd and me. Major prep work was done on the Wolfman costume... drinks were drunk... and yes, two of us were quite lucky to meet a new friend. Wait... is that? Yes it is. And his real name is Normus. Party!!

   
 

5/29/14

   

The critics aren't being kind to either of these movies, so they better have a nice opening haul if they want to compete for Top 10. Disney's Maleficent (picked by 51 people) would seem to be the better bet, but you never know what to expect from dumb kids and their $$$. In 2012 Ted was projected to do only $26M and instead surprised with $54M. However, that one had a 66% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to just 36% for A Million Ways to Die In the West (picked by 19). I'll still see it... as the 2nd film of a double-dip. It's not getting my money.

Boxoffice.com's predictions for this weekend:
1) Maleficent - 68.5M (68.5M)
2) X-Men: Days of Future Past - 37.5M (167.8M)
3) A Million Ways To Die In the West - 25M (25M)
4) Godzilla - 12.8M (175.2M)
5) Neighbors - 6.7M (127.6M)
6) Blended - 6.5M (27.6M)
7) Million Dollar Arm - 3.8M (28.1M)
8) The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - 3.7M (192.6M)
-----
10) Chef - 1.7M (6.6M)

Rotten Tomatoes freshness ratings:
Maleficent = 56% (42% by the Top Critics)
A Million Ways To Die In the West = 36% (46% by the Top Critics)

Theater count:
Maleficent = 3,800
A Million Ways To Die In the West = 3,000+

5/26/14

Current Top 10:

                   

As expected, X-Men: Days of Future Past tore it up with $111M over the 4-day holiday weekend, including $91M from Fri-Sun. That made it the 5th highest grossing Memorial Day weekend ever (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is 1st at $139M). While Future Past is sitting pretty with the highest Rotten Tomatoes rating of the X-Men franchise (91%), it still fell behind X-Men: The Last Stand as the highest grossing film of the franchise ($102M/$122M over Memorial Day weekend 2006). $111M may have disappointed some insiders, but consider that it essentially doubled X-Men: First Class's $55M opening in 2011... and this one had to go up against highly-rated Godzilla's 2nd weekend (that film tumbled 67% over the first 3 days of the weekend). So is the X-Men franchise tired or only getting stronger? I guess we'll really know in May 2016 when X-Men: Apocalypse is released. Hey Peter, go ahead and put it on your list now so you don't overlook it :)

We pretty much knew that Blended wouldn't compete with the big boys this summer. But only $18M over 4 days?? Even the disastrous Jack and Jill had a $25M opening. I enjoyed reading this little nugget on Box Office Mojo: It doesn't help that Sandler seems to hold that audience in such contempt: on Jimmy Kimmel Live this week, he appeared to admit that he made Blended simply so he could take a vacation. Nice job, dude. Stay away from the summertime from now on. And I was mistaken, as we actually had 3 people who picked it. Unfortunately 2 of them had been a perfect 3-for-3 in selections until this weekend. No perfect score for Justin this year. We are now down to 21 people who have correctly chosen only the top 4 movies in the Standings. That's the # to watch in the Scoreboard. As for the Standings, we have our first 2 movies that dropped out of the Top 10. They're gone forever. And evidently God's Pocket is the movie to beat for the Bonehead Award (with 2 people set to split the $10 prize).

Next weekend: This ought to be interesting, as there's no guarantee that Malificent (picked by 51 people) will make Top 10. It LOOKS pretty slick, but is it something kids will want to see? I don't have kids, so I'd love to hear from those that do on the message board to help gauge interest. A couple pre-summer estimates had it at $150M+, but yet another had it at just $116M due to the film's darkness. Maybe it would have been better off as a March or April release. The weekend also brings us a real wildcard in A Million Ways To Die In the West (picked by 19). We have Neighbors that surprised everyone with $51M several weeks ago, and I'm seeing projections for $55M for 22 Jump Street in just a couple weeks. Is there room for another dumb comedy this summer??

Also this weekend, Todd and I will be descending upon Atlanta to re-visit our Universal Studios' classic monsters costumes with Chapman for Halloween 2014. The Mummy is nearly complete, and now it's Wolfman time! For all you new folks, jump to the August 2 date in the 2013 Index of Previous Years to see all of Mike's hard work at making me look good.

5/22/14

   

We can just let the Rotten Tomatoes reviews speak for themselves this Memorial Day weekend. On one end we have a 92%/97% blockbuster set to do $110M+ over the next 4 days, which would make 62 people very happy. And on the other end we have a 15%/22% clunker set to only do $20M+, which would make 2 people very sad (and the rest of us VERY happy!). I know which one I'm seeing.

Boxoffice.com's predictions for this 4-day weekend:
1) X-Men: Days of Future Past - 115M (115M)
2) Godzilla - 49M (166.8M)
3) Blended - 25M (25M)
4) Neighbors - 19M (118.5M)
5) The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - 11.3M (188.3M)
6) Million Dollar Arm - 7.8M (21.3M)
-----
10) Chef - 2.8M (4.1M)

Rotten Tomatoes freshness ratings:
X-Men: Days of Future Past = 92% (97% by the Top Critics - Damnnnnnnn.)
Blended = 15% (22% by the Top Critics - HA!)

Theater count:
X-Men: Days of Future Past = 3,996
Blended = 3,555

Everyone have a SAFE and fun holiday weekend!!

5/19/14

Current Top 10:

                   

Projected $76M... actual $93M. Godzilla go boom!! With an opening performance that trumped even Spider-Man 2 we are now likely looking at a Top 5 movie. It still has a 73% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, so don't be surprised if word of mouth fuels it past $200M. If you've looked at the Scoreboard page you'll see the # of current Top 10 picks ranging fully from six to one. But don't be fooled, as THREE is the magic number. And it's really only the current top three in the Standings that matter, as we can expect something like $125M to be the cutoff for Top 10 this year. Right now we have 23 of 63 players still with a shot at perfection.

Next weekend: The weekly hits keep on coming as we can expect another blockbuster in X-Men: Days of Future Past (picked by all but one person). I can assure you that that one person already realizes that his summer strategy didn't work out as expected :) The reviews are already through the roof (93% on RT from 28 reviews), and this very well could be the highest-rated blockbuster of the summer. And then there's Blended (picked by 2 people including our good buddy Justin). Hey, remember when Justin went 10-for-10? Well now he's reduced to picking Adam Sandler crapbags. Where are the reviews for this stinker? So far it's 0-for-1. Good luck, man.

5/15/14

     

It's Godzilla or bust this weekend! 54 people are cheering for mass destruction as the latest remake is pulling in pretty good reviews (77% positive) and BIG box office expectations ($76M projected). This will definitely be IMAX 3D for me! We also get Million Dollar Arm... which really seems out of place this time of the year. I read that Disney wanted to hold the release date until baseball season was underway, but I think it'd have made more sense coming out in a less-competitive April, and to also feed off the excitement of the start of the season. But what do I know? Well, at least enough not to pick it. And then we have The Immigrant which will only get released in three theaters. Three. Buh-bye.

Boxoffice.com's predictions for this weekend:
1) Godzilla - 76M (76M)
2) Neighbors - 27M (92M)
3) The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - 16.5M (172M)
4) Million Dollar Arm - 15M (15M)
-----
9) Moms' Night Out - 2.1M (7.5M)
10) Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return - 1.9M (6.4M)

Rotten Tomatoes freshness ratings:
Godzilla = 77% (70% by the Top Critics)
Million Dollar Arm = 55% (57% by the Top Critics)
The Immigrant = 84% (80% by the Top Critics)

Theater count:
Godzilla = 3,952
Million Dollar Arm = 3,019
The Immigrant = 3

5/11/14

Current Top 10:

           

$51M for Neighbors! With an entire summer remaining I don't see any way how it can't make Top 10. $51M is the 11th largest opening ever for an R-rated film, and the 5th largest among summer R-rated movies. Nearly half of our pool players are very very happy right now. Who's not happy? Well, not only those who didn't pick it, but also the players who took Moms' Night Out ($4.2M), Legends of Oz ($3.7M), Chef ($200K) and God's Pocket ($23K). It was bad enough seeing that one player took two of those clunkers, but even worse was seeing another player who took THREE. Ouch!

Next weekend: Go Go Godzilla!! The biggie of the weekend (which 54 of us picked) is the latest remake of the monster classic, and all signs point to it being extraordinary. I mean, it's got to be better than that dreck that came out in 1998, right? (which is really funny as that movie was selected by both Chapman and me in our first ever Summer Movie Pool, finishing 6th at $136M.) Full circle! So far it's got 14 of 16 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes being positive (88%), and those that praised it certainly appreciated the serious tone of the film. The upcoming weekend also brings us Disney's true-story baseball film, Million Dollar Arm (picked by 2 players) and The Immigrant (picked by 2 players). Unfortunately for the latter, it's only getting limited release. Oops.

5/10/14

         

Sorry for the delay in posting... was just a lil busy yesterday. This weekend we have the first comedy of the summer in Neighbors (picked by 28 people). It's an R-rated movie, but based on recent R-rated comedy success (21 Jump Street grossed $138M in 2012) it could still do quite well. It is the only major release this weekend and has a buffer of three weekends before the next comedy is released. That 73% rating on Rotten Tomatoes should certainly help word of mouth. In my opinion it looked hilarious in both the red-band and green-band trailers (not an easy feat). And hey, some people here call me "dummy", so I guess I'm the perfect gauge for what dumb Americans want to see. :D We also have three other films that were selected this weekend: Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return (picked by 7 players), Chef (2) and God's Pocket (2). Unfortunately, none of those three are projected to gross higher than $5M. Legends might have gotten 2500+ theaters, but it's simply been trashed by the critics (a ZERO rating by the Top Critics in RT!). On the flip side, Chef may have stellar reviews, but it's only getting released in SIX theaters this weekend. Hey, at least it'll earn $$$ to qualify for the Bonehead Award. That's better than God's Pocket which doesn't appear to showing in ANY theaters this weekend. Remember, to qualify for the Bonehead a movie has to earn at least one dollar at the box office. Oops.

Boxoffice.com's predictions for this weekend:
1) Neighbors - 39M (39M)
2) The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - 37M (148.5M)
-----
4) Moms' Night Out - 7M (7M)
-----
8) Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return - 4.5M (4.5M)

Rotten Tomatoes freshness ratings:
Neighbors = 73% (74% by the Top Critics)
Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return = 15% (0% by the Top Critics - Zero!)
Moms' Night Out = 17% (7% by the Top Critics)
Chef = 89% (89% by the Top Critics)
God's Pocket = 32% (33% by the Top Critics)

Theater count:
Neighbors = 3,279
Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return = 2,525
Moms' Night Out = 1,044
Chef = 6
God's Pocket = 0

5/5/13

Finally got to look over all of our 2014 Summer Movie Pool picks. Game on!

This summer was a little different from the past few years where I didn't see 10+ 'locks' for the pool. Last year especially I was having a tough time narrowing down from 13 to 10, agonizing over the ones I dropped off (yes, every decision I made was wrong). But with a couple 2014 blockbusters not included in the summer release schedule (Captain America 2 opened early in April and Fast and Furious 7 was pushed to summer 2015), I found this year to be much easier to create a list of 10. Hope it was the same for everyone else.

Looking at the grid of everyone's selections, with so many more players we understandably have more movies selected than the previous year. And more risks were taken... which is always a good thing. The grid is formatted with the most veteran players to the left and the newest folks on the right. Just as I said last year, don't look too deeply into how the veterans' picks were made, as we again had a new winner last year (Ally). If you ever want visual proof of this just look at the 2010 Final grid. Pretty ugly on the left-hand side. Crazy things can happen... and EVERYONE has a chance (unless you're gunning for the Bonehead).

Here are the numbers that we should keep an eye on for each 'major' movie (10+ selections this year):

The Amazing Spider-Man 2
63 people / Avg placement = 2.4 / Highest placement = 1
A no-brainer as everyone picked it. That lofty 2 average ranking might be tough to meet, however.

Neighbors
28 people / Avg placement = 7.9 / Highest placement = 2
The funniest trailers of the summer. And someone out there is going nearly all-in.

Godzilla
54 people / Avg placement = 4.9 / Highest placement = 1
Arguably the most anticipated movie of the summer. After Roland Emmerich's 1998 crapfest, everyone wants this one to be awesome.

X-Men: Days of Future Past
62 people / Avg placement = 3.6 / Highest placement = 1
Only one person wasn't a believer. Too bad for him.

Maleficient
51 people / Avg placement = 6.9 / Highest placement = 3
Ranged everywhere from 3 through 10. Here's hoping that it's better than Alice In Wonderland.

A Million Ways To Die In the West
19 people / Avg placement = 8.7 / Highest placement = 6
The red band trailers were kinda funny with, well, the various ways to die. But certainly wasn't as funny as Ted.

The Fault In Our Stars
11 people / Avg placement = 8.3 / Highest placement = 4
Ladies, grab your tissues. I can already see it. "Honey, I'll be right over here in Edge of Tomorrow."

22 Jump Street
38 people / Avg placement = 7.5 / Highest placement = 1
The original was SO much funnier than I expected. But can the sequel with pretty much the same plot have the same success?

How To Train Your Dragon 2
57 people / Avg placement = 3.2 / Highest placement = 1
No Pixar this summer. And no real animated competition at all. That 3 average ranking might just wind up too low.

Transformers: Age of Extinction
60 people / Avg placement = 3.0 / Highest placement = 1
In a summer with fewer "blockbusters" than recent years, I just don't see any that will top this. I definitely believe that it'll finish top two. Three people don't even see it as top ten.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
52 people / Avg placement = 6.1 / Highest placement = 2
This one ranges all the way from 2 through 10. The original kind of surprised us. Most everyone has caught on by now.

Guardians of the Galaxy
36 people / Avg placement = 7.8 / Highest placement = 2
With all of the bad press it received I personally thought it would be a sneaky pick for me. Guess not. Don't be scared of the Aug 1 release. It's got four full weeks, and the two prior weekends look blah action-wise.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
19 people / Avg placement = 8.3 / Highest placement = 3
While it could be fun, just four weekends might not be enough. Especially not if GotG blows up.

Some other observations and rants: FIVE limited release movies were selected (you all better hope for wide expansions). Once again, minimal love for Adam Sandler's Blended (ugh). Same for Tom Cruise's Edge of Tomorrow (at least his movie isn't an embarassment). By now everyone probably knows that Clint Eastwood-directed films are box office poison (everyone except for the two of us that took Jersey Boys). Two players are banking on a repeat of last summer's horror success story,The Conjuring, with Deliver Us From Evil (the trailer spooked the crap out of me). Little love for Melissa McCarthy's newest effort, Tammy (her schtick has gotten REAL old). I love David's passion for Planes 2 (remember, it's a Disney cash-grab, not a Pixar film, but someone has it #1 on their list!). Did we really need another Hercules film? Or another Step Up? But my favorite selection decision of the summer... Lucy as a #1 film! It won't be Bonehead, but damn, that in itself is deserving :D

We have a bit of variation this summer, so we very well could avoid a tiebreaker. And I may not have picked all of them, but these are the movies I really wanna see the most: Amazing Spider-Man 2, Neighbors, Godzilla (my most anticipated), X-Men, Edge of Tomorrow, Train Dragon 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Sin City 2.

I hope everyone enjoys this summer as much as I will. The best part is that this year's Bonehead will truly be a competition. Good luck!

5/4/14

Current Top 10:

 

Remember when a $92M opening was super awesome? Well I guess today it's a bit of a disappointment for a Spider-Man movie, particularly one that kicked off the summer. $92M for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 falls right between last November's $85M for Thor: The Dark World and this April's $95M for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Those movies grossed $206M and $237M (and counting), respectively. The first ASM grossed $262M during July 4th weekend in 2012. While ASM 2 will be a definitely lock for Top 10, here is what Box Office Mojo has to say:

The long-term prospects at the domestic box office aren't great. The movie received a so-so "B+" CinemaScore, which suggests word-of-mouth will be only a bit better than the reviews. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will likely fall off quickly in the coming weeks, and is essentially guaranteed to be the lowest-grossing entry yet in the franchise. Based on the pattern of other May openers, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 should finish with around $230 million.

That should put it around #5 by year's end. And I have it #2 on my list. Damn. I guess we didn't really need that reboot only 5 years after the first trilogy. Sony fail.

Next weekend: A heavy week for us with 3 wide releases plus 2 limited. This biggie is the VERY funny looking Neighbors, which 28 of us took. I think America is starving for a funny movie, and raunchy is still in (hope the R rating doesn't deter too badly). After that we have Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return which just looks horrible. But not horrible enough for 2,800+ theaters or to be picked by 7 players. Good luck. There's Moms' Night Out which thankfully no one picked. And then we have the limited releases in Chef which was picked by 2 players (who doesn't love food trucks?!) and God's Pocket which was picked by 2 players (the final film for Philip Seymour Hoffman - such a shame). Maybe they'll eventually get wide releases. Or maybe not. The battle for Bonehead has begun!

5/2/14

 

With all of the oddities in this year's selections (some big budget blockbusters were neglected on a few entries), I'm happy to say we're all winners in our very first weekend. All 63 of us selected The Amazing Spider-Man 2. The first film in the reboot series finished with only $62M in it's opening weekend in 2012, but that was after it had actually started on a Tuesday (by Sunday night it had earned a total of $137M). It proceeded to gross $258M by the end of the summer, finishing up as our #3 movie. This year's sequel has already racked up $145M worldwide in two weeks, so there's really no telling what to expect. Are people already "superheroed" out from the incredible success of last month's Captain America 2? Are people burned out from a 5th Spidey film in 12 years? I think that's a fair concern as we already see it with the X-Men movies and spinoffs. Last summer's first movie (Iron Man 3) opened to $174M in just THREE days, en route to a $400M haul as the #1 movie of the summer. We really shouldn't expect that kind of performance this weekend. 26 of us have Spider-Man as our #1 movie this summer, so the stakes are certainly high. I'll be quite happy with $100M+. Unfortunately, the critics haven't been very kind :(

Boxoffice.com's predictions for this weekend:
1) The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - 94M (94M)

Rotten Tomatoes freshness ratings:
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 = 56% (39% by the Top Critics)

Theater count:
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 = 4,324

5/1/14

This is certainly an exciting time for those of us heavily involved in the running of the Summer Movie Pool. After 16 years of tracking picks by paper and spreadsheets, we FINALLY got someone to help us automate not only the pick submission method (what a timesaver for me!), but also the weekly box office updates. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I am that I no longer have to manually build the initial grid, or even update it weekly prior to posting. Our new friend is playing in the pool for his first time, and while I won't name him specifically I still want to say THANKS!!

Regarding this year's entries, it's especially good that the site has been automated as we exploded from a previous record 45 entries in 2013 to 63! It's really great seeing the amount of fun many of us have with this pool, and I always like seeing new friends join in. We did lose 9 players from last year... but wound up gaining 21 (plus another 6 who came back from hiatus - welcome back). Welcome to all of you newbies! So now, the hard part is done as I'm sure some of us agonized greatly over our picks. We can all sit back and watch the standings take shape over the next four months.

Of our original $630.00 pot, $40.00 will apply toward the construction of the website and the maintenance of the server. We have already begun looking at improving the performance of the website to enhance the player experience. That leaves $590.00 for our winning payouts. The breakdown for 2014 will be the following:

1st Place = $450.00
2nd Place = $90.00
3rd Place = $40.00
Bonehead Award = $10.00


All prizes got bumped up from last year, and 76% of the pot will go to the winner (that's $110.00 more than last year). Nice! The Current Standings page has been updated with everyone's selections, and I've removed all non-selected movies. With 63 players it's a long list, but another new addition to the site is the ability to hover your cursor over the tri-letter names to better identify the player. The tri-letter name is meant to be the first three letters of your User Name (first initial of your first name and then your last), but for the 10 of you who decided to be different and not follow the naming scheme... you might have to do a little digging :)

The first weekend preview and the overall picks analysis will be posted soon. At quick glance the same core 7-8 movies are on most everyone's list... and then we're all over the place. There are some really interesting selections out there, and I truly believe we're going to have some good competition for the Bonehead Award. Exciting!

And we can expect the 2014 SMP banner to be revealed this weekend. Chapman's on it!

5/1/14

Heh. Well I just learned that the site instituted a hard lock at exactly 11:59pm EST. Efficient! But since I said we would extend another three hours, any late entries will need to be entered once unlocked. For those that intended to enter during this extra three hour timeframe, please email us at summermoviepool@gmail.com. Once the site is unlocked we will contact you to allow you to finalize your picks.

4/30/14

This is it. Just hours left and we're seeing 60 entries so far!! Our previous high was 45, so this is just awesome.

One item of note... in all of my email invites I failed to specify WHICH time zone was the 11:59pm cutoff. Yes, we have players from all over the U.S. (and right now, Italy), so to be fair to those on the West coast I'll be extending the deadline to 11:59pm PST. That'll also help you slowpokes on the East coast ;)

I have opened the Scoreboard page of the website for viewing, so if you want to confirm whether your entry is good or not, check for your name. The column for # of Top 10 Picks won't be entirely accurate this early in the summer, as our automated standings are now in date order. Lots of small-time flicks mixed in with the big boys, but they'll get weeded out over the upcoming weeks.

I already see some entries that didn't seem to follow protocol with the naming schemes (Stan Darsh? Yes, I watch South Park, thank you), so I'll have to spend some time figuring out all of our players... and payments. That said, while we are currently looking at 60 entries, if we don't see payments by 11:59pm EST on Thursday, May 1 those incomplete entries go bye bye. I've personally replied to any payments made to my PayPal account (they've been pouring in over the past two days, so thank you very much), and Chapman has informed me of cash payments made directly to him. For everyone else... time to pay up.

Once the entries are sorted out the Standings page will be revealed. That will take place sometime on Thursday. Stay tuned!

4/27/14

Just days away from the start of the 2014 Summer Movie Pool!

For those wanting to play...

- If you haven't yet registered it's very easy to do. Just click the 'Register' link and follow the basic steps.

- If you've already registered but haven't yet submitted your picks directly on the site, the deadline to do so is Wednesday, April 30 at 11:59pm PST. The site will lock at that point.

- If you've already registered and submitted your picks, the deadline for payment is Thursday, May 1 at 11:59pm EST.

- If you've already done all the above... you're awesome.

The first movie of the summer is Friday, May 2. Hope to see everyone this summer!

4/25/14

With the start of the pool right around the corner.... here's an idea of what are NOT summer movies (and thus being released in April):

     

4/3/14

So who's up for the 17th year of the most awesome annual Summer Movie Pool?!?! You can bet that we are, as we are unveiling a brand spanking new method for submitting your picks ONLINE. Oooooooooooohhh! Check out the details in the Rules page for the scoop.

2013 gave us our most-ever number of entries with 45. And for the FOURTH straight year we had a brand new winner (meaning there's always hope for everyone who plays). The race to victory came down to only 4 people with 8 correct picks (it was a tough summer). And once the tiebreaking Deviation Score was applied it was Ally Mauro who edged out the others with 25 points (thanks to 3 perfect picks and 2 1's), taking home the $340 First Place prize!

The next two players in the Deviation tiebreaker (Mario Nelson and Keeley Brooks) both ended up with 29 points, and that allowed them to tie for 2nd Place to split the 2nd and 3rd place money for $50 each. And as for the Bonehead Award, Sam Nelson easily secured that $10 prize with the crappy Thor-knockoff Hammer of the Gods. It made $641.00. Seriously. $641.00. You should be embarrassed.

Regarding the 2013 movies, comic book superheroes were once again supreme, with Iron Man 3 finishing #1 ($408M) and Man of Steel finishing #3 ($290M). Animated movies were also right there as Despicable Me 2 finished #2 ($353M) and Monsters University finished #4 ($262M). Of course, not ALL superhero or animated movies triumphed, as we definitely saw some market oversaturation.

Here are our previous winners:

2013 - Ally Mauro
2012 - Sponge
2011 - Kelly Peterson
2010 - Kurt Weierstall
2009 - Steve Berg
2008 - Justin Klein
2007 - Tim Driscoll
2006 - Steve Berg
2005 - Larry Pennington
2004 - Chic Meyers
2003 - Todd Fiore / Dave Logan / Jaime McGauley (tie)
2002 - Steve Berg
2001 - Steve Berg
2000 - Mike Chapman
1999 - Steve Berg
1998 - Steve Berg


The first Friday of the summer is May 2, and we will need time to confirm entries and track payments. As such, the deadline for submitting your picks will be Wednesday, April 30 at 11:59pm. At that point the site will lock and no further entries will be accepted. The entire month of April is more than enough time to assemble your picks and submit them.


Have your picks submitted by May 1!!!


We'll let everyone know when the picks are revealed on the Current Standings page. Enjoy! And good luck!!

3/9/14

It's early... and that just shows how dedicated we are. We've got some good stuff brewing this summer, including a new format for making your summer movie selections (*cough* no missed blockbusters anymore, Kristen *cough*). Sound good? How about a running Deviation Score and Scoreboard? Yeahhhhh, it's all in beta mode right now so stay tuned. We've got a new player/developer we'll call Mr. X who has been a HUGE help in bringing the SMP into the 21st century. No more excel spreadsheets! I'm already smiling.

So for now feel free to check out the Previous Years, Official Posters and Hall of Boneheads links to reminisce.