2015 Holiday Movie Pool - Final Report | Star Wars: The Force Awakens | The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 | Spectre

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2015 Holiday Movie Pool - Final Report

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -  Part 2
Daddy’s Home
The Peanuts Movie
The Good Dinosaur
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip
The Big Short
The Night Before
Point Break
Love The Coopers
In the Heart of the Sea
Secret in Their Eyes
By the Sea
Wait, you say, how can this be a final report when there's barely been any reports to begin with? Ah, that's the magic of Hollywood! We can always fix anything in post. I'm sure if you come back in a few months, you'll suddenly see individual week reports throughout the season and you'll be like, "Wait, that wasn't there!" It's like that funny feeling you keep having in every Marvel movie after Iron Man 1, "Why does everyone keep calling Don Cheadle 'Rhodey'?"

Besides, all I apparently missed to cover was Star Wars: The Force Awakens having the biggest opening weekend of all-time, the biggest second weekend of all-time (you get the idea), and overtaking the two biggest films in American history (Titanic and Avatar) in less than a month. See, no big deal.

While I apologize for the distractions and my land of good intentions that never came to fruition, it's never too late to throw the last snowball of the season and snowplow through the results of the 2015 Holiday Movie Pool!!!

The Yellow Snow Section:

- Universal didn't even leave By The Sea by the discount DVD bin. It bombed so much in its limited release they kept it that way. Maybe it was payback for Angelina Jolie never coming back to make Wanted 2. Maybe the payback should've been to make her actually watch this film.

- According to the internet, which is never wrong, the Victor Frankenstein movie was shown on over 2,700 screens Thanksgiving weekend. You may go your whole life never meeting a single person who ever saw it. If I was young, single, and actually got out of my house more than once every Terrence Malick movie, I think I'd make that my mission to try and find that person.

- I guess the Secret in Their Eyes was that they found a way to make a movie with Julia Roberts that no one wanted to see. I'm pretty sure I could get people more excited to suffer through I Love Trouble and Mary Reilly with me than to see this depression fest. If Julia can't figure this out soon, she's going to be stuck on some generic CBS Drama dealing with Scott Bakula and L.L. Cool J stat.

- There must have been a cardiac arrest In The Heart of the Sea. Poor Chris Hemsworth can't get any kind of "hit movie" action outside of Thor and poor Ron Howard can't get any kind of "hit movie" out of Chris Hemsworth. It's time for a break guys. You can both say "It's not you, it's me" and both be right.

- I'm not sure what the Coopers could've done to have been thrown this much shade (I'm still not really clear what the whole throwing shade thing is, but my agent is trying to get my writing style to appeal to a younger demographic... and my agent is an imaginary voice in my head that's always pissed that I never pay him his 10%) but instead of Love The Coopers people just seemed to pretend they didn't even exist. Now that's just cold (Young people still use that one, right?)

- Point Break was point broken as soon as it was released. Nothing about it seemed fun. Nothing about it seemed cheesy. Nothing about it seemed like, I don't know, like Point Break. Now, I get that the first Point Break didn't think it was those things either, but that's probably just why it came across as both. The lesson, as always, is that's it's hard to intentionally make the unintentional.

The Slush on the Side of the Road Section:

- While I'm proud of people like Dr. Bennet Omalu for fighting for, literally, the lives of people who've been lied and misled by corporate American (and in the case the NFL), there wasn't anything in the movie trailer for Concussion that I couldn't have seen in any other "one person fights the system" movie. This seems like a great plane ride flick. If just more people flew plans, I think they'd have made a lot more money!

- I'm not even sure what I can say about The Night Before that won't make me want to throw my laptop across the room. I trusted you, Seth Rogan! I put my #5 pick in your Star of David Ugly Xmas Sweater hands and this is how you treat me. I feel so used. I'm like a James Franco punch line played one time to many (as if that's possible).

- While I'm still remiss that I haven't gone out to see Krampus yet at my local discount theater, it's nice that there's still a place in the world for comedy horror outside of Ash vs. Evil Dead.

- The Big Short was big on big names and short on getting people to actually care. Maybe next time borrow Jonah Hill's prosthetic penis from The Wolf of Wall Street if you want to get people's attention about finance movies.

- I guess director David O. Russell couldn't keep making hit indy-esque movies forever. Joy was no flop but also nowhere near the success of Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle. Maybe much like Joy's As Seen On TV products, that's where most people figured they'd check this film out

The Shaved Ice Food Truck Section:

- Doing $50 million worse than their last movie, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip might finally be Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Kill.

- While doing a little better than their first partnership Baby Mama, Sisters did little to show that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's efforts aren't best served on the small screen... and during the Golden Globes.

- Perhaps Creed really is the Rocky story of the season. Few thought anything good could come from Sylvester Stallone going to the well for the 7th time, but now Sly's nominated for an Academy Award, everyone's forgotten Michael B. Jordon was in Fanterrible Four, and Creed 2 is a lock to have another shot at a Top Five Movie Pool Title in a couple years. As Rocky always said, "If I can change... And yous can change... Everybody can change!"

- If Pixar would've renamed The Good Dinosaur into The We're-Not-So-Bad Dinosaur, would it have done better at the box-office? Then again, there's not a good way to spin being the lowest-grossing Pixar film in history. Their #16 out of 16. After Finding Dory comes out this summer, they'll be #17 out of 17. And so on and so on.

Now, instead of wallowing in mediocrity, also-rans, and well-it-could've-been-worses, let's actually get down to the Top Five movies of the 2015 Holiday Movie Pool because yesterday was, Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Observance!!!

#5. The Peanuts Movie - $129.5 million
In a shocking twist, which is why this pool sometimes comes down to the last weekend, The Peanuts Movie fell to #5 after four straight weeks at #4 (I sound like an American Top 40 Countdown). What The Peanuts Movie did right was to tap into the young kiddie audience. Where they failed was converting non-fans or attracting adults to see the movie. Going in, I never thought this film had enough to out-muscle The Good Dinosaur, yet I'm not really sure this film achieved that goal as much as The Good Dinosaur was extinct on arrival. Also, as happy as I am that The Peanuts Movie didn't flop, it made $30 million less than Hotel Transylvania 2 which was probably 30 million times dumber.

#4. Daddy's Home - $131.9 million
I didn't think any other film was going to rise out of the Star Wars Winter Break domination, but Will Ferrell has always shown cockroach like capabilities. For every Land of the Lost or Get Hard or The Campaign, he can always seem to win people back. Here, they marketed Daddy's Home as a family comedy and families who'd seen enough of Star Wars and didn't want to see any more of Alvin found their film. Kudus to the marketing team, congratulations on the box-office bounce-back for Will and Mark Wahlberg, and well done in scoring the same critical and audience score on Rotten Tomatoes as Vin Diesel's The Pacifier: a film kids think they like and adults are hoping the 87-minute runtime includes 20 minutes of ending credits so they can leave sooner.

#3. Spectre - $199 million
Spectre may represent James Bond's fiercest enemy, but living up to Skyfall proved to be the toughest challenge by far. Seen as inferior by most, a good 007 fell to where good 007 films should live around the $200 million range. If this is the final Daniel Craig Bond, this quadrilogy (or tetralogy for those who prefer Greek to Latin) has brought the British Secret Service firmly into the 21st Century. While it might have been nice if Blofeld actually seemed, I dunno, more Hans Gruber than Hans Gruber's brother in Die Hard 3 (seriously, Hans Gruber never would've coo-cooed) and if every love interest scene seemed stripped right from Casino Royale (a film that just happened three movies ago), sometimes you have to take the ride for what it is and not complain about every bump along the way... and just enjoy 009 getting continuously pranked. That guy had it coming!

#2. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 - $279.6 million
It's a good thing they're done making Hunger Games movies. Based on the trajectory of the last two films, in another four films they'd have started grossing negative money. That's so District 9. Jennifer Lawrence seemed to have as much fun playing Katniss Everdeen at the end as everyone else who was watching her. Mockingjay - Part 2 played like the second act of Les Miz with someone else dying every five minutes without any of the fun Master of the House stuff from the first act to not make it completely laborious. Suffice to say, now that this series is done, I don't think anyone is going to be hungry for it for quite awhile.

#1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens - $859 million
Much like Jurassic World in the summer, The Force Awakens didn't really change anything as just throw a bucket of paint on what worked with the original and sometimes all people need is a new paint job to feel good about their old stuff again. It's the simple things, like having scrolling opening credits that didn't confuse anyone, that are nice. Sure, you still have to gloss over plot holes like, "Wait, how exactly did Poe make it back to the Resistance Base, why do he and Finn act like blood brothers when they spent 30 seconds together, and is there a reason besides 'It's time to end the movie' that R2-D2 suddenly wakes up with the final piece to solving the mystery?" Likewise, the fun, geeky holes such as how is a protocol droid built by a 10 year-old a 100 years ago still top-of-the-line tech? I better check my Mac Classic II with Ram Doubler to find the answer! The good news is, however, that the force is strong with Star Wars once again... and nothing in it reminded me of (or required anyone to know anything about) Episodes I, II, and III. Well played.

by Matt Neuenburg on 01/20/2016

Movies Mentioned in this Post: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip, By the Sea, Concussion, Creed, Daddy’s Home, In the Heart of the Sea, Joy, Krampus, Love The Coopers, Point Break, Secret in Their Eyes, Sisters, Spectre, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Big Short, The Good Dinosaur, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2, The Night Before, The Peanuts Movie
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