An annual tradition. For the last couple years /Film crew — a movie and podcast website — try and predict the order of the top ten highest grossing domestic films. This year, fans of the website and podcast including myself could play along with a leaderboard site. The full rules for the game are here. Essentially, a player is rewarded for getting the order of the films right with particular emphasis on the top slot and the tenth slot. I decided to give myself an extra challenge by also putting a numerical box office value to each slot.
How did I do? With the results in, I would say that I didn’t do too badly. I scored 58 points which put me a tied place of 81st, the top 3% of all contestants globally. With that score, I would have won the /Film summer movie wager had I been a participant on the show — not that I’m bragging or anything. In fact, the top scorer and I share the exact same movie list albeit in a different order.
What I got wrong. Two words: Wonder Woman (WB). I was neither convinced by the trailers nor the current iteration of DCU’s track record (*cough* Batman v Superman (WB, 2016)), so I was deathly afraid that Wonder Woman would be a dud. I should not have been. Stellar reviews and the marketing machine propelled it to the top slot past Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (BV). Instead of Wonder Woman, I put Spider-Man: Homecoming (BV) in the first place. I thought the step up in quality, familiar household name, and Robert Downey Jr. appearance would propel past $400 million to top place. Not quite. One more thing I got so, so wrong was the appearance of Girl’s Trip (Uni.) at tenth place. That movie came out of nowhere. I thought it would be a flick akin to Barbershop: The Next Cut (WB, 2016) or Baggage Claim (Fox, 2013) which both grossed nowhere near the $100 million dollar mark. If anything, I thought Rough Night (Sony)would have a higher dollar takeaway. I foolishly put The Mummy (Uni.) at the tenth slot which was a vote of confidence in Tom Cruise’s star wattage. Oh well. Also, I wish I was more confident in Christopher Nolan — very close to my favorite of directors. I thought the relatively unknown premise of Dunkirk (WB) would be a headwind and the movie gross about $130–150 million — a step below Interstellar’s (WB, 2014) close to $200 million take. Wrong about that too.
What I got right. When Guardians of the Galaxy (BV, 2014) first came, it shocked most movie industry watches and hit the number one spot with a gross of $333 million. Admirable, but that was the particularly dismal year for movies. In comparison, next year, Jurassic World (Uni., 2015) hit the number spot with nearly double the amount of box office success. So, while I did predict the Guardians 2 will do better, I didn’t think it was enough to get the top place which turned out to be a good guess. In other franchise news, I was thought War of the Planet of the Apes (Fox) and Cars 3 (BV) to be crowd-pleasers but not box office smashes and end up near the bottom of the list which was also accurate.
Where I wanted to believe. I wanted Spider-Man: Homecoming to be that tentpole movie akin to Spider-man 2 (Sony, 2004) which was quite close to the $400 million mark. An optimistic movie like that while The Handmaiden’s Tale is on TV would be heartening. Sometimes a film doesn’t have to fill in all four quadrants but can be so loved it would propel it into the top ten of summer. In this case, I wanted that to go to my boy Ryan Reynold’s fun caper of a movie The Hitman’s Bodyguard (Lionsgate) to perhaps surprise with its charm. Finally, I also wished audience loved Alien: Covenant action-packed horror flick as a darker blockbuster choice (but it seems like that honor went to It (WB)).
- Franchises still dominate. Only two of the top ten movies this year were original ideas and one of them was based on a historical event.
- Box office doesn’t necessarily have to depend on white male leads. That should be the key takeaway for this year with films like Beauty and the Beast, Wonder Woman, Get Out, and Girl’s Trip as prime examples.
- Quality is key. Do you know what the top three films this year have in common? They have a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score above 80% and an audience score close to 90% which should tell film executives that quality still plays a large role in a film’s financial success.