I'm a Better Dad Than Him. . .

The Final Results of the Summer Box Office Challenge: The Streak is Broken


Bah!

We recorded a new episode of The Movie Breakdown with reviews for Strays, Barbie, and Nimona, as well as tributes to Tina Turner and William Friedkin. Unfortunately, there were major technical issues and it missed out on huge swaths of audio. It was likely due to being completely new recording software on account that tight finances meant I couldn't use the one we've been operating for the past several years. My hope is I figure out the issues on this program before we do the next episode, but also, I'm remaining positive that my career will earn a win so we can return to Riverside. fm soon. It is a really great way to record a podcast, and I've been amazed by the incredible service, so cancelling it only had to do with hitting a financially tough spot that I am aiming to reverse. 

The episode being lost into the abyss of never-to-be-heard podcasts also means all our wonderful listeners have missed out on a historic moment. For the first time since we started the Summer Box Office Challenge in 2015, Scott has been declared the winner. My streak is over, and now for the first time, I must watch and review three movies chosen by Scott. I'm sure they will be delightful.

Since this is a moment that deserves posterity, I'll reveal the final standings of this year's competition. Remember the contest is based on the opening weekend's domestic grosses.

Scott:

1. Guardians of the Galaxy $118 414 021
2. Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse $120 663 589
3. Flash $55 043 679
4. Fast X $67 017 410
5. Barbie $162 022 044
6. Haunted Mansion $24 082 475 
7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles $28 007 544
8. Ruby Gillian Teenage Kraken $5 500 990
9. The Book Club: The Next Chapter $6 677 580
10. Back on the Strip $461 000
Total: $587 890 332 

Christopher: 

1. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny $60 368 101
2. The Little Mermaid $95 578 040 
3. Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part 1 $54 688 347
4. Elemental $29 602 429
5. Transformers: Rise of the Best $61 040 464
6. Oppenheimer $82 455 420
7. Insidious: The Red Door $33 013 036
8. The Meg $30 002 735 
9. Blue Beetle $25 030 225
10. Strays $8 247 810
Total: $480 026 607

A few quick observations looking at the final standings. When it comes to individual picks, I actually chose more movies that had successful opening weekends and Scott picked three that did well under $10 million. But it isn't head-to-head matchups. and Scott won because he landed three picks that made over $100 million. The key to the game is landing those big picks., and Scott chose the movies with the three highest opening weekends of the summer. He walked away with a pretty clear win by breaking ahead of me by over $100 million.

I clearly put way too much faith in my Top Gun: Maverick strategy. This was a belief that Tom Cruise had risen to be an even bigger star after last summer, and movie fans were salivating for sequels to big hits from the 1980s. What I failed to see was that Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part 1 is a sequel to a franchise that has been around for a long time, and this did not have the same appeal as a follow-up to a movie that was several decades ago. This was the same problem for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, which is a sequel to a movie from the 1980s but also has three other sequels, and the last one left a bad taste in many fans. It did not help that Harrison Ford is getting up in the years, which may have made him less appealing action lead to younger audiences not driven by nostalgia.

I also completely underestimated the box office appeal of Barbie. But so did Scott. The big winner of the summer ended up being the ninth overall pick in the draft. I don't think anything has ever happened like this in the contest. My best guess is that it was a combination of strong brand recognition mixed with a movie that looked very different and fresh, had the clear creative voice of an artist in director Greta Gerwig, and was appealing to an underserved demographic while also attracting a mainstream audience. But my only consolation is I don't think any pundits would have predicted Barbie as the box office champion this summer.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse was another surprise as it made much more its opening weekend than the previous Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse. This proves that having a good original movie really matters as word-of-mouth can attract a larger audience to the sequel, but it also proves that there doesn't seem to be 'superhero fatigue' that has harmed many movies this year but rather 'generic tentpole fatigue'. 

Oppenheimer, Barbue, and Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse have proven audiences are starving for features that offer something different and have a strong creative vision. I fear that isn't the lesson studios will get, because they rarely seem to get the right one. Plus, the message of being more creative and unique while giving more control to the artist is not a comfortable or easy one for a big studio executive to receive.

The moral of the story is I finally lost. I am kind of happy that I did. Every year I have got slightly more anxious with each win knowing that Scott was building up grander and grander designs for revenge. Now, I get to finally face his three picks, and get it over with. Then I'll get back to work and win next year again.

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