Box Office Pick’em: January 2013

I play a lot of fantasy sports. I like the competiveness of it and enjoy trying to predict what will happen. That led into an idea for the following contest: Box Office Pick’em.

I figured that the new year would be a perfect time to start this friendly little contest between myself and Luke.

The game is essentially this: Each month, Luke and I will draft a team of movies scheduled for release that month. After we’ve each selected our teams, we’ll keep track of the box office numbers for each of the titles selected. Whichever of us has the highest total for the month will win that month. We’ll also have a year-end winner.


This is the equation for scoring: Box office (domestic + worldwide) – budget = total.

Instead of doing straight box office number, we’ve decided to add in the negative effect of budgets to make things more interesting. This makes picking the bigger budget films a little riskier, because we’ll have to make up the large deficit before we can start earning a positive amount.

  • Budgets will only apply for the month in which they were drafted. Profits, on the other hand, will carry into the next month. For example: Movie X costs $100 million, but earns only $50 million in the first month of its release. That $100 million budget remains in that month, but if the movie continues earning into the next month, those earnings go to cover the budget deficit of the next month. So, basically, anything earned after the first month of release is budget-less.
  • Once a movie gets picked up, it’s owned by that person forever. So, say a movie is picked up in limited release and doesn’t expand wide for a few months. The person who initially chose it still owns that movie for its wide release.
  • Yes, budget information is usually held back until the last minute. We won’t have official budget tallies until the end of each month. However, we will try to follow estimated budget news as best we can.
  • The award for the overall monthly winner is the ability to pick first in the next month.
  • The overall winner will be determined with a year-end grand total.
  • We still haven’t decided what the loser will have to do at the end of the year, but Luke threw out a suggestion about readers planning a night of terrible movies for the poor soul.
  • The first pick of January was decided by a coin toss, which Aaron won.

Pick #1: Aaron

Selection: ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

Reasoning: Even though I won’t be able to claim the $4 million that this movie made in its limited release in 2012, I still think that ‘ZDT’ will have a nice long run in 2012 during its wide release. With an estimated budget of only $20 million and a Best Picture nomination looming, this has to be the most solid pick in the month of January.

Estimated Budget: $20 million

Pick #2: Luke

Selection: ‘Gangster Squad’

Reasoning: Dammit, you’re going to kill me with ‘ZDT’. If only I had won the coin toss! With an R rating and a $75 million budget, I know I’m taking a risk here, but this is what must be done to catch up to ‘ZDT’. I don’t think that ‘Gangster Squad’ is going to be huge, but Gosling and Stone are on fire right now, so I’m hoping that will help. It’s also opening on 3,000+ screens this weekend, so that’s another good sign.

Estimated Budget: $75 million

Pick #3: Aaron

Selection: ‘The Last Stand’

Reasoning: I can’t say that I like this one, but January is full of some really slim pickings. I would’ve chosen ‘The Impossible’ here, but it’s already earned a ton in foreign box office and I wouldn’t be able to claim any of that since it happened last year. Instead, I went for Schwarzenegger’s return to action hero status, hoping that the market fueled by ‘The Expendables’ continues with this. My trepidation is that it looks rather dopey and I could see it tanking after the first week.

Estimated Budget: $50 million

Pick #4: Luke

Selection: ‘Broken City’

Reasoning: I have absolutely no clue what ‘Broken City’ is. I’ve never heard of it and the plot sounds less than original. Having said that, with a pretty small budget and cast of very well-known actors, surpassing that budget shouldn’t be a problem. I hope that ‘Broken City’ will make ground over ‘The Last Stand’ (which I don’t see doing all that well) and help make up for not getting ‘ZDT’ on my roster.

Estimated Budget: $35 million

Pick #5: Aaron

Selection: ‘A Haunted House’

Reasoning: I’m banking on the ‘Paranormal Activity’ fan base showing up for a parody movie that makes fun of their favorite pastime. While I can’t find any preliminary budget information about it, I’m pretty sure that the budget for this thing is minuscule and it has earning potential. I still don’t love this pick, though.

Estimated Budget: TBD

Pick #6: Luke

Selection: ‘Movie 43’

Reasoning: With a TON of big names attached and none of them doing enough work within it to be budget-draining (I assume that the budget is extremely low), my hope is that this mysterious and crude comedy will bring the young dumb moviegoers in droves, much like last year’s armpit of a release ‘Project X’.

Estimated Budget: TBD

Pick #7: Aaron

Selection: ‘Texas Chainsaw 3D’

Reasoning: I’m surprised this one fell this far. Looking back on it, this should’ve been my second pick. Oh well, I’m glad to select it here for sure. I’m hoping for some huge numbers for this one from the diehard horror fans. Also, the 3D premiums should help bolster its total box office numbers. Oh, and it was shot on a minuscule budget.

Estimated Budget: $8 million

Pick #8: Luke

Selection: ‘Mama’

Reasoning: I don’t know how I let ‘Texas Chainsaw 3D’ slip either. After its first weekend, it’s already a proven success. I’m hoping to counteract that with ‘Mama’. The upsides on this release are that it carries the names Guillermo del Toro and Jessica Chastain, both of which might draw an audience that doesn’t typically come out for scary flicks. On top of that, it carries a PG-13 rating, which will draw out younger audiences too. And considering how great the similarly del Toro produced ‘The Orphanage’ was, maybe ‘Mama’ stands a chance.

Estimated Budget: TBD

Pick #9: Aaron

Selection: ‘Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters’

Reasoning: Good golly, this movie looks awful. My hope here is that the 3D premiums will help inflate its numbers and that it might have longer legs overseas than it will domestically. What I don’t like about it is the daunting number it adds to my budget deficit. I already have buyer’s remorse.

Estimated Budget: $60 million

Pick #10: Luke

Selection: ‘Parker’

Reasoning: I know that neither Jason Statham nor Jennifer Lopez have the stuff that “star power” is made of, but they both have their audiences. My hope is that ‘Parker’ will go the way of ‘Jack Reacher’ since it’s based on a similarly popular series of books. Coming from one of the writers behind ‘Black Swan’ and the recent ‘Hitchcock’, who knows what exactly ‘Parker’ is capable of.

Estimated Budget: $30 million

Pick #11: Aaron

Selection: ‘Struck by Lightning’

Reasoning: ‘Glee’ fans are crazy about ‘Glee’, and that’s what I’m counting on here. I don’t expect big things, really, but I do like the fact that Chris Colfer, who plays Kurt Hummel on ‘Glee’, is writing and starring in this. The cast is full of recognizable faces too. There’s a chance that it could go on to earn well in a wider release, if its limited release does well. Gleeks unite!

Estimated Budget: TBD

Pick #12: Luke

Selection: ‘Quartet’

Reasoning: I don’t mind lightweight British comedies, but this one isn’t exactly British when you note that it’s directed by Dustin Hoffman. Carrying a British cast, there’s no doubt that it will please UK audiences. (It opened there on Jan. 1st, but I haven’t seen any reports of its performance.) Another upside to ‘Quartet’ is that it’s based on a stage play, so it’ll draw the play-adoring thespian audiences too.

Estimated Budget: TBD

Pick #13: Aaron

Selection: ‘John Dies at the End’

Reasoning: I saw this little comedic horror film at Sundance and think it has potential to be a cult classic. Sadly, I think much of that viewership will come in the form of home video and VOD viewing rather than theaters. Still, I like its earning potential better than ‘LUV’.

Estimated Budget: TBD

Pick #14: Luke

Selection: ‘LUV’

Reasoning: So I’m the sucker that ended up with ‘LUV’. While this pick may be on my team, I’m certainly not rooting for it. ‘LUV’ is the equivalent of the uncoordinated kid that you were forced to add to your kickball team because he was all that was left. Sorry, Common, but I’ve got no faith in you!

Estimated Budget: TBD

Aaron’s Final Thoughts on Round One: I really like my acquisitions of ‘ZDT’, ‘Texas Chainsaw 3D’ and ‘A Haunted House’. I don’t purport to be any sort of box office prognosticator, but I think those three will do well relative to their tiny budgets. ‘Hansel & Gretel’ is cause to worry, though. I fear that its massive budget may sink me. [Note: Halfway through, we both decided that we’d leave ‘The Impossible’ as the odd movie out since it already did a massive percentage of its box office in 2012.]

As for Luke, if ‘Broken City’ and ‘Gangster Squad’ do well, he certainly has a chance, especially since I have two high risk, big-budget movies on my payroll. And there’s always the outside possibility that ‘Movie 43′ rakes in some dough.

What do you guys think? Who will win the first month of Box Office Pick’em?


  1. JM

    Better scoring would be: (worldwide / 2) – (budget x 1.25) = profit.

    I don’t see any math where Luke wins January.

    Schwarzenegger’s foreign BO should fill ‘Hansel & Gretel’s money hole.

    ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ will underperform, but ‘Broken City’ won’t be enough.

  2. According to Box Office Mojo, ‘The Hurt Locker’ made a little more than $49 million on a $15 million budget. Not a huge hit, but there’s a profit!

    Fun contest, by the way. No idea who will win.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *