The 2022 Summer Movie Pool is over, and after 4 months of summer releases our pool came down to the Very. Last. Day. to determine our winner(s). That’s right, for just the first time since 2004 when the current Deviation Score method was introduced we’ve got a TIE for 1st Place with identical scores. And what a race it was!

With the movie industry grinding to a halt in Summer 2020, and then using Summer 2021 to shake off the rust and get back into the swing of theatrical releases, we didn’t quite know what to expect in Summer 2022. While there were still some nervous studios who yanked select movies completely from box office release, there were also others hellbent on box office $$$. After the lessons learned from 2021 with both day-and-date and direct streaming, what we did get in 2022 was a compromise between most studios and exhibitors where a 45-day theatrical window would be honored before streaming availability. And while the overall numbers this summer are not at the same level of prior pre-pandemic years, the actual total might surprise.

It was August 8th when we finally had the weekend release of our remaining legitimate entry and were able to introduce the Deviation Scores to the best selections. At that time we identified 3 players who appeared to have a leg up on everyone else and the potential for Perfect 10. And after several more weekends these same 3 players finished at the top of our Standings just barely missing out on perfection. Nope vs. LightyearWhere the Crawdads Sing vs. Bullet Train. Those specific matchups shaped our final month in the race for Top 10. While the Crawdads-Bullet matchup didn’t greatly impact our finalists, that Nope-Lightyear matchup clarified our winners. We’ve tracked the excitement here over the past weeks, and it again needs to be mentioned just how close our finish actually was: $57,000. Amazingly close.

Below is the Deviation Score breakdown for the top 3 players with 9 correct picks:

Dennis Berg – 19 (5,1,1,0,2,3,0,3,1,3) — (2) perfect picks and (3) 1’s, The lack of faith in Top Gun: Maverick nearly cost the shared W.
JP Bernardo – 19 (3,1,1,1,4,3,1,1,3,1) — (0) perfect picks and (6) 1’s. Despite no correct placements still had really close selections across the board for the shared W.
Mark Adolphus – 27 (9,1,0,0,3,3,1,3,3,4) — (2) perfect picks and (2) 1’s. Took a huge kick in the groin on Top Gun: Maverick to unfortunately get wiped out.

Dennis Berg (AKA my dad) is a long-time member of the SMP, dating alllllll the way back to 2005. After a bit of a learning curve (his 2006 selection A Prairie Home Companion is still one of my favorite Bonehead Awards and remains a fun topic of conversation) he’s really stepped up his game. He’s come close numerous times over the years, and has progressivly gotten better with a 3rd Place showing in 2018 and a 2nd Place (due to the tiebreaker) in 2019 to someone very special 😉 When we discussed our 2022 selections after the summer reveal he really began to second-guess his decision to cut DC League of Super Pets for The Black Phone. Turns out this time he was the genius and I was the sucker. And that’s why you gotta stick with your gut. Despite his lack of faith in Tom Cruise’s acting abilities that cost him a few points, nothing makes me happier than seeing Dennis finally get a W in the SMP. Congrats dad!

After originally attempting to participate in the SMP in 2015, John (JP) Bernardo finally joined us in 2017 and made the 1st Place tiebreaker in his very first year. And in just his third SMP he’s got the W that has eluded so many of our participants. JP trusted Top Gun: Maverick more than any of our other finalists by placing it at #4. Smart. He did, however, put a bit too much trust into Marvel’s second summer movie. But looking up and down JP’s list there wasn’t anything else questionable, as (6) Deviation 1’s just might be a record here. That final week effort of Nope might sting for a little bit after seemingly having this year’s SMP locked up, but any W is a good W. Congrats JP!

With 1st Place being shared between Dennis and JP, their prize is a split of the combined 1st ($210) and 2nd Place ($50) payouts. Everyone wins!

3rd Place goes to the other member of the three-way tiebreaker, Mark Adolphus. Aside from his placement of Top Gun: Maverick, Mark’s picks were just as solid as the other guys’. But man that was quite a Deviation hit. Still, he picked The Black Phone and the rest of us didn’t. Genius. Congrats Mark!

The Bonehead situation this year was a tricky one, as we had 2 movies seemingly make low enough box office to “win”,… but not when their streamers have a policy in place to not report any box office $$$. It really seemed that either Netflix’s The Gray Man or Amazon’s Samaritan would take the prize, but neither wanted to play the game. And that’s a shame for the 4 players who picked them. Paramount seemed to get it with their day-and-date releases on P+ along with reported box office earnings, but the same cannot be said for the others. This should a big lesson to all for future SMP selections, as our rules state that to qualify for Bonehead your movie must earn at least $1.00 at the box office. As such, the 2022 Bonehead Award is another split prize that goes to 2 “winners”: Clayton Vandiver and Gretchen Hinton for their brave pick of Marcel the Shell With Shoes On at $5.86M. Certainly not the worst performer this summer, but just bad enough to win some cash. Congrats to you both!

Gretchen deserves additional props for being the only participant to select the #10 movie in the Top 10: Where the Crawdads Sing. 1 more weekend to the summer, or if Sony never pushed back Bullet Train a week, and we are telling a different story. But the reality is that Gretchen was the only one smart enough to pick it despite its 34% RT Critics rating. The audience has spoken and they loved it.

With a $290 total prize pot (an extra $10 was generously kicked in by one of our players) we have the following payouts:

1st Place – $260.00 (tie) – Dennis Berg + JP Bernardo ($130.00 each)
3rd Place – $20.00 – Mark Adolphus
Bonehead Award – $10.00 (tie) – Clayton Vandiver + Gretchen Hinton ($5.00 each)

Some observations from this summer:

1) Top Gun: Maverick finally cracked the $700M plateau on Labor Day 9/5. In our 23 total years we’ve never seen a bigger box office gross than TG2’s $692M. The only other times a movie eclipsed $600M in the SMP was 2015’s Jurassic World ($643M) and 2012’s The Avengers ($618M). I, for one, am glad that Paramount, Joseph Kosinski and Tom Cruise all fought for TG2 to be a theatrical release despite numerous release date delays and not simply dumped to streaming.

2) As for the aforementioned summer box office total, the collective 42 movies that earned at least $1M in Summer 2022 was $3.14B. Understandably, Top Gun: Maverick earned 1/5 of that total, but it does need to be noted that this is the first year we saw FIVE movies earn $300M+. That simply doesn’t happen, as the most we’ve seen prior was 4 each in 2007 and 2015. Summer 2019’s total was $3.75B among 67 movies. Summer 2018’s total was $3.75B among 62 movies. The pent up demand for theatrical movies in 2022 was very real.

3) The biggest box office disappointment was easily DC League of Super Pets. After WB and DC stripped the summer of their tentpole movie Black Adam (technically after already stripping the summer of The Flash) we were left with the remnants of the DCU as an animated film that was also the victim of multiple release date delays. And boy did it bust with just a $23M opening and a $75M total. Simply put, WB + DC are a mess.

4) 5 movies scored a RT Critics score of 90%+ at time of release: Top Gun: Maverick (97%), Marcel the Shell With Shoes On (100%), Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (93%), (surprisingly) Bodies Bodies Bodies (90%), and Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero (93%).

5) On the flip side, 7 movies scored a RT Critics score below 50% at time of release: Firestarter (13%), Jurassic World Dominion (35%), Where the Crawdads Sing (34%), Easter Sunday (46%), Mack & Rita (26%), Samaritan (39%), and The Invitation (23%). It’s sad that 2 of them finished Top 10.

6) Only one movie received the rare A+ CinemaScore: Top Gun: Maverick. Surprise!

7) The best 2nd weekend multiplier among our 12 trackable movies was Elvis at 2.30x. The best 4th weekend multiplier was Where the Crawdads Sing at 3.73x. And the best 8th weekend multiplier was Elvis at 4.53x. That’s some serious legs for a movie.

8) 8 movies and 29 player entries will be added to the Hall of Boneheads this year (reserved for anything less than $50M). Congrats to them!

Lastly, my favorite movies of Summer 2022 in terms of ‘most enjoyable’ experiences (not necessarily the ‘best’ films). Fun = enjoyable. That’s what I want when I pay to go to the theater. I saw 13 movies at the theater this summer, with my favorites being:

1) Top Gun: Maverick – Saw it twice, once in Dolby Cinema and once in IMAX. At first I was concerned with its forced nostalgia (seems to be a trend lately), but the action payoff was amazingly fun. Be sure to see it in the theater before it’s gone.
2) Nope – The mind of Jordan Peele is an interesting one, and after a series of secretive trailers followed by a final trailer that tells you everything and nothing at once, this was one wild ride.
3) Lightyear – A major box office disappointment, but it doesn’t appear to have been made for little kids. It was made for big kids. Like me!

Also really enjoyed: Everything Everywhere All At Once (not a summer release but still better than others I saw), ElvisBullet Train, and Rogue One (re-release in IMAX).

We are REALLY glad to see so many people return to the SMP after the 2-year hiatus. Here’s hoping everyone had a fun time playing in the SMP this year! 2023 is already packed with tentpoles like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3Fast X, the live-action The Little MermaidSpider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (yes, the animated sequel), Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, Pixar’s Elemental, DC’s long-awaited The Flash (maybe), Indiana Jones 5 (fingers crossed!), Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part OneBarbie (yep), Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, and The Marvels (basically Captain Marvel 2). Oh and don’t forget about Meg 2: The Trench. Whew!

It was great getting back to the fun of providing weekend previews and weekend recaps, and we hope you enjoyed them. See you all next summer!!

– SB

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