Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Color of (Movie) Money

Every year, millions of people in the U.S. and around the world participate in "fantasy sports" games, banding together with similarly obsessed friends to draft and manage (or mismanage, in most cases) virtual teams in football (the U.S. and international kind), baseball, basketball and hockey. I suppose being able to say "I've got LeBron James!" or Manny Ramirez or Adrian Peterson or Cristiano Ronaldo can be exciting.

Naturally, I'm one of them, annually combining shoddy pre-season research with indecisive drafting and poor weekly management skills to basically make a disaster of my fantasy football and basketball experience. This year, for instance, I drafted New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady with my first pick in two different fantasy football leagues. When he went out in the first quarter of the first game of the year, my teams -- The Good Fellas -- were toast.

At the invitation of my friend John, this year marked the first time I have played in the English Premier League soccer contests. The rookie year is always the hardest, and I'm living proof, performing abysmally in both the fantasy team competition and in the "I Know the Score" weekly match prediction game.

I normally fare better in basketball. This year, I finished third out of 10 in the annual Peacock Players League, and I've actually won once this century, so I've got that going for me. Which is nice.

Of course, a couple friends of mine and I take things even further, and so, for the last several years, we've expanded onto the links, each drafting six professional golfers the day before the start of golf's four major championships. Tiger Woods at Bethpage for the U.S. Open seems like a good bet. Hope I draw the #1 pick.

But the sheer lunacy of this compulsion to compete in just about everything is expressed most fully in what is now the sixth annual Summer Movie Box Office Contest. Every April, my friends Stu and Dave and I "draft" eight movies in classic "snake" or "serpentine" fashion, and whichever person's collection of films has grossed the most as of the end of business on Labor Day wins $20 from each of the others, to be paid in person at a humiliating ceremonial lunch.

I only say it's humiliating because Stu and I have lost to Dave each of the last three years. And in one of those years, Dave beat us essentially with one hand tied behind his back, as one of his films didn't crack $20 million ... and yet another of his picks didn't end up even getting released after being bumped from the summer schedule. So, in all truth, he beat us with six movies. As I said, humiliating.

Anyway, our friend John heard us talking about the box office contest last year and innocently asked which one of us had picked "Step Brothers," starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. Of course, none of us had drafted it. I mean, who needed that movie (which eventually grossed $100 million) when we had "Meet Dave" (me), "The X-Files: I Want to Believe" (Dave) and "The Love Guru" (Stu) in our slates? Anyway, John -- smelling blood in the water and easy money -- immediately insisted on joining and he's the fourth in this year's contest. (And after hearing about our picks from this year, another good friend of mine is angling to be the fifth next year.)

Here are this year's picks and release dates. I had the first two movies to land in the contest -- "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" and "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" -- which combined to gross an estimated $102 million for the weekend (according to


1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
8. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
9. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
16. G-Force
17. Year One
24. Shorts
25. I Love You Beth Cooper
32. Dance Flick

Total through May 3 (estimate): N/A

2. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
7. Angels & Demons
10. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
15. Land of the Lost
18. The Hangover
23. The Proposal
26. Inglorious Basterds
31. Imagine That

Total through May 3 (estimate): N/A

3. X-Men Origins: Wolverine: $87,000,000
6. Up
11. Bruno
14. Funny People
19. Julie & Julia
22. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past: $15,325,000
27. Drag Me to Hell
30. My Life in Ruins

Total through May 3 (estimate): $102.3 million

4. Star Trek
5. Terminator Salvation
12. Public Enemies
13. The Taking of Pelham 123
20. The Ugly Truth
21. My Sister’s Keeper
28. Management
29. Cheri

Total through May 3 (estimate): N/A


Ghost of Girlfriends Past (Bobby P.)
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Bobby P.)

Star Trek (Dave)

MAY 15
Angels & Demons (Stu)
Management (Dave)

MAY 21
Terminator Salvation (Dave)

MAY 22
Dance Flick (John)
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (Stu)

MAY 29
Drag Me to Hell (Bobby P.)
Up (Bobby P.)

The Hangover (Stu)
Land of the Lost (Stu)
My Life in Ruins (Bobby P.)

Imagine That (Stu)
The Taking of Pelham 123 (Dave)

The Proposal (Stu)
Year One (John)

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Stu)

Cheri (Dave)
My Sister’s Keeper (Dave)

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (John)
Public Enemies (Dave)

Bruno (Bobby P.)
I Love You Beth Cooper (John)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (John)

G-Force (John)
The Ugly Truth (Dave)

Funny People (Bobby P.)

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (John)
Julie & Julia (Bobby P.)

Inglorious Basterds (Stu)
Shorts (John) *
* UDPATE 6/14: "Shorts" moved from August 7 to 21.

1 comment:

BettorFan said...

That's an awesome idea for the Hollywood Movie contest. We need innovation in fantasy leagues. - BettorFan