Our 2023 Summer Movie Pool is over, and unlike last year this pool was decided with nearly a month left thanks to a complete surprise that came from out of nowhere to make the Top 10.  And the best part is that we now have ANOTHER new SMP champion!

The 2022 box office got a much-needed jolt thanks to our Hollywood savior, Tom Cruise, whose Top Gun: Maverick ($701M) led the way to a total $3.39B summer.  But no one could predict that a Mattel toy clad in pink would be the catalyst for an even-better $4.04B box office in 2023.  Barbie ($598M) was certainly the rising tide that lifted all boats, as we haven’t seen a summer Top 10 cutoff at $150M+ since 2014.  And even that number has been a rarity over the past 20 years:

#10 Movie#11 Movie
2023Elemental$151.8Fast X$145.9
2022Where the Crawdads Sing$82.6Bullet Train$80.0
2021The Suicide Squad$52.8Old$46.5
2019Godzilla: King of the Monsters $110.5Rocketman$96.3
2018The Meg$112.3The Equalizer 2$99.2
2017Girls Trip$109.3Baby Driver$104.1
2016Ghostbusters (2016)$125.1The Angry Birds Movie$107.5
2015Straight Outta Compton$135.4Spy$110.4
2014Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles$162.4Neighbors$150.1
2013The Conjuring$133.4Grown Ups 2$129.7
2012Prometheus$126.3Magic Mike$113.2
2011Rise of the Planet of the Apes$151.5X-Men: First Class$146.2
2010Salt$113.7Robin Hood$105.3
2009Angels & Demons$133.4G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra$132.7
2008Wanted$134.0Mamma Mia!$131.3
2007Live Free or Die Hard$133.2Fantastic Four: Rise of Silver Surfer$131.5
2006The Devil Wears Prada$121.0The Break-Up$118.6
2005Monster-In-Law$82.9The Dukes of Hazzard$75.3
2004Dodgeball$113.2The Village$110.5
2003Spy Kids 3D$107.0Seabiscuit$103.7

As for our 2023 winner, the man of the moment is FREDDY BURGOS as the only player to correctly pick 9 movies.  I recall originally looking at his entry and thinking, “Barbie at #4? Barbie AND Oppenheimer?  No Fast X??  Yeah, this entry is toast.”  Heh what do I know?  What do any of us know??  Only 1 of the 38 of us could predict Barbie would finish at #1.  And NONE of us could predict that Sound of Freedom would swoop in as a Top 10 and aid Freddy’s summer.  That’s why the SMP is so awesome.  Nobody knows anything when it comes to the summer box office.  As our 20th new winner in the 24 years of the SMP (twice had winners tied), Freddy wins $250.00 for 1st Place.  Congrats!!

In a summer like this it was no surprise that we had 25 players tied for 8 correct picks.  But only 2 of them can claim the runner-up spots.  We have to go allllllllll the way back to 2003 to see our longtime friend DAVID LOGAN stand on the podium (finished in a three-way tie for 1st Place that year).  David did not pick Barbie at all, but the 2 movies he whiffed on were just slightly better placed than his closest competitor.  Even a 7-point hit for The Flash didn’t hurt badly based on his other placements including a perfect 0.  This year the Deviation Score tiebreaker that we didn’t have in place back then nets David $50 for 2nd Place.  Really cool to see your name back in lights!

For the 2nd time in 3 years NATE AUSTIN has been oh-so-close to winning the tiebreakers but has had to settle for third.  Other than also not picking Barbie, Nate’s overall placements were excellent minus the 8-point hit for The Flash.  By beating out 23 other competitors Nate wins $20.00 for 3rd Place.  Nice job!

NameDeviation ScoreDeviations
David Logan302,2,5,3,1,5,2,0,3,7
Nate Austin323,2,4,3,4,2,1,1,4,8
Mike McPherson338,1,2,3,3,1,1,2,5,7
Simon Moon337,0,2,6,2,2,2,0,4,8
Wes Whitten336,1,1,4,2,2,1,2,6,8
Ava-Ziva Foo341,1,5,1,3,3,2,4,10,4
George Mandella343,2,6,2,0,0,3,1,7,10
Rory Thompson343,3,1,6,4,4,1,3,3,6
Curt Perone377,5,1,2,6,4,0,0,6,6
Steve Berg379,3,2,3,4,4,0,2,4,6
Joanna Robinson384,5,2,6,2,5,2,1,3,8
Julio Bautista399,4,1,2,0,4,1,1,10,7
Parker Richardson399,2,2,4,1,4,6,2,6,3
Todd Fiore396,1,5,4,4,4,1,4,6,4
Joshua Bergman407,4,1,5,2,6,3,0,4,8
Ally Mauro415,5,2,5,2,6,6,1,1,8
Mark Adolphus419,1,4,4,1,5,2,1,7,7
Sean Donald418,1,2,3,2,2,5,8,5,5
Kelly Perone427,5,0,5,1,5,7,0,6,6
Sponge (Andrew Franklin)436,6,1,5,4,3,5,1,5,7
Sherwin Varma439,6,1,0,6,4,0,3,8,6
Justin Klein464,1,5,5,1,7,5,5,4,9
Dennis Berg478,6,2,6,1,5,5,4,5,5
Jacob Moon488,6,0,6,4,5,4,3,6,6
Paul Harrison499,1,1,1,1,3,6,3,7,17

The Bonehead Award goes to a first-time player, BILL WOODY, for his awesome selection of Rally Road Racers.  That $700K total finished dead last in the pool at #47.  There was some initial concern about whether this movie would report any box office numbers, as the first weekend by the studio was silent.  But as soon as the numbers dropped in the second weekend the award was a certainty based on all remaining picks over the summer.  Bill wins his $10.00 back as the 2023 Bonehead Winner.  Well done.

Top recap the prizes, with a $330 total pot we have the following payouts:

1st Place – $250.00 – Freddy Burgos

2nd Place – $50.00 – David Logan

3rd Place – $20.00 – Nate Austin

Bonehead Award – $10.00 – Bill Woody

Some observations from this summer:

1) Barbie was certainly the queen of the summer, narrowly missing $600M by the August 31 cutoff date.  And just like 2022 our #1 movie finished over $200M more than the #2.

2) The biggest box office disappointment of the summer was easily The Flash.  As recently as May it was projected for a $115-140M opening.  Nope, how about $55M followed by a 72% second weekend drop of just $15M.  Ouch!  2022’s biggest summer disappointment was DC League of Super Pets, and just as was said last year WB/DC are a mess.

3) While some would say that Barbie was the biggest box office surprise of the summer, perhaps it should really be Sound of Freedom.  With a budget of only $14M, an unorthodox release date of Tuesday, July 4, and picked by NO ONE it ended up shocking the SMP with a $41M opening.  $181M later it sits as the #6 movie in our Top 10.

4) Summer 2023 had 46 movies earn at least $1M, up a tick from 2022’s total of 42.  But still a ways to go to get back to 2019’s total of 67 movies.

5) 6 movies scored a RT Critics score of 90%+ at time of release: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (96%), Joy Ride (92% – hmmm), Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One (96%), Oppenheimer (93%), Talk To Me (96%), and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (96%).

5) On the flip side, the summer was also filled with clunkers as studios churned out 9 movies with a RT Critics score below 50% at time of release: Love Again (23%), Book Club: The Next Chapter (45%), Hypnotic (35%), About My Father (27%), The Machine (33%), Kandahar (41%), Haunted Mansion (40%), Meg 2: The Trench (28%), The Last Voyage of the Demeter (41%).

6) While 12 movies earned at least an ‘A-‘ CinemaScore, only one movie received the rare A+: Sound of Freedom.

7) The best second-weekend multiplier among our 13 trackable movies was Elemental at 2.21x.  The best fourth-weekend multiplier was again Elemental at 3.70x.  And the best eighth-weekend multiplier was once again Elemental at an incredible 5.01x.  That’s some serious legs for a movie widely considered to be the first summer Pixar bust after only a $29M opening. 

8) 8 movies and 11 player entries will be added to the Hall of Boneheads (reserved for anything below $50M).  Congrats to those about to become immortalized.

Lastly, and personally, my favorite movies of Summer 2023 are in terms of ‘most enjoyable’ experiences.  Not necessarily the ‘best’ films.  Fun = enjoyable, which is what I want when I pay to go to the theater.  I saw 12 movies at the theater this summer, with my favorites being: Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One (absolutely lived up to my expectations), Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (third best in the franchise), Barbie (yes, I found Ryan Gosling’s Ken to be quite hilarious), Oppenheimer (stunning), Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (though not nearly as much as the original), and surprisingly, Gran Turismo (wheeeee!).

Barring any further release bumps due to the strikes, Summer 2024 is already packed with expected hits like: The Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, Garfield (yep), If, Furiosa (Mad Max prequel), Bad Boys Ride Or Die, Inside Out 2, Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning – Part Two (yes!), Despicable Me 4, Mufasa: The Lion King (prequel), Venom 3, Twisters (sequel), Captain America: Brave New World, and Kraven the Hunter.

Here’s hoping everyone had a fun time playing in the SMP this year!  It was great getting back to the fun of providing weekend previews and weekend recaps, and we hope you enjoyed them all.  See you all next summer!!

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