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Box Office Challenge: Crowning this season's big winner!

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Eric_lYou had to be the last man on earth — chased by mutants at night and too busy, you know, surviving during the day — to not have predicted that I Am Legend would be top grossing movie last weekend.  (Though just how much money it did end up earning — a record-setting $77 million — must’ve come as a surprise to all but the most committed Will Smith-ophiles.)  And while a solid 83 percent of you picked the post-apocalyptic thriller to top the charts in this, the last week of the fall competition, less than half — an even 40 percent — correctly guessed that Alvin and the Chipmunks would finish in the No. 2 spot. 

And so it is that we have two “firsts” among this week’s winners: (1) the first three-way tie — congratulations to Robert W from Glendale, Arizona (aka “Broncos11”), Trent M from Iowa City, Iowa (aka “MillardTrent”), and Steve Korn from NYC (aka “stevephc”) — and (2), with Mr. Korn, the first winner from the EW.com  staff.  Umm, you do know, Steve, that there is no money in this contest?  I kid, I kid: Steve is an associate editor here and I’m not exaggerating when I say that he kinda keeps our little town running. Big props to all you gents (and sorry for not running your pictures — we simply didn’t have the room).

I am legend is also what two-time winner Eric Thuemmel (pictured) of Manistee, Michigan — perhaps better known as “TheBigE” — oughta be saying to himself, considering he is the last man on earth standing in our inaugural Box Office Challenge. The famously press-shy Eric, who was somehow persuaded to submit yet another photo of himself, shared these words with us:  “I’m a high school math teacher and a movie fan, so I guess that’s a good combination for this game. Plus I just got lucky with some of my picks. Most of my picks were based on gut feelings, not on any math. Two movies that really helped my score were Why Did I Get Married and This Christmas. I took a chance on them and they both did well at the box office.”  (Lessons learned: Math skills can help you in this game. So can a love of movies. Actually, math skills can not help you in this game. Never underestimate the box-office power of black-audience-targeted movies. And always take chances.)

Congratulations to Eric, all you past winners, and to everyone who played this year!  We’ll see you in 2008!