2008 Media Prognostication Contest results and winners

The spirit of change is everywhere, including the results of the 12th Annual USA TODAY Media Prognostication Contest. For the first time in seven years, a Wall Street expert beat our readers — although just barely — in predicting how 2008 would unfold in the media.

Pali Research's Richard Greenfield scored eight correct answers out of 15. Four readers equaled that, but none came as close on the tiebreaker.

For 2009, he says that "there are a lot of cautious signs," including the weak economy, ongoing challenges from the transition to digital media, and the possibility of a Hollywood actors' strike.

But people still pay for the things they like, such as this year's blockbuster, The Dark Knight.

"Good content still can find a home," Greenfield says.

Look for our 2009 contest next week.

The 2008 scorecard:

1) Which film will have the biggest box office sales in its opening three-day weekend?

a) Hancock (Sony); b) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Warner); c) Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Paramount); d) The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (Disney/Walden); e) The Dark Knight (Warner); f) The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (Universal); g) You Don't Mess With the Zohan (Sony).

Answer: E. Batman flew with $158.4 million, breaking a record that Spider-Man 3 set in 2007. Dark Knight beat Indiana Jones, with $100.1 million, and surprise contender Iron Man, with $98.6 million. Of the rest: Hancock opened with $62.6 million; Narnia, with $55 million; The Mummy, with $40.5 million; and Zohan, with $38.5 million. Harry Potter was delayed to 2009.

2) Which animated film will open biggest?

a) Bolt (Disney); b) Horton Hears a Who (Fox); c) Kung Fu Panda (DreamWorks); d) Madagascar: The Crate Escape (DreamWorks); e) WALL-E (Disney/Pixar).

Answer: D.Madagascar (renamed Escape 2 Africa) beat WALL-E by a whisker, $63.11 million to $63.09 million. Panda came close with $60.2 million, followed by Horton with $45 million, and Bolt, with $26.2 million.

3) Popular tours by The Police, Genesis, Justin Timberlake and Kenny Chesney did not keep total spending on concerts in North America from falling 10.2% to $2.6 billion in 2007, Billboard says. The 2008 total will be:

a) Down 10% or more; b) down less than 10%; c) flat to up at least 10%; d) up more than 10%.

Answer: C. The good news is that fans spent $2.8 billion, up 8%, to see performers led by Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, The Police and Celine Dion. The bad news is that the increase came from higher prices. Paid attendance fell to 48 million from 51 million, Billboard reports.

4) At year's end, the conventional wisdom is that the February 2009 transition to digital broadcast TV appears to be:

a) A success with no hiccup more serious than Y2K; b) a few major quandaries but basically OK; c) big problems; finger-pointing has begun; d) a potential disaster; investigations underway; e) the transition date is changed to avert disaster.

Answer: B. Few people noticed in test cities when analog signals were temporarily switched off. But there were enough glitches to make Consumers Union and other watchdogs concerned that, in February, millions will be unprepared.

5) Disney is the only major studio selling all movies on iTunes the same day they're released on DVD. How many majors (Disney, Fox, Sony, Universal, Viacom and Warner) will do so as of Dec. 1?

a) None; b) one, Disney or another; c) two; d) three; e) four; f) five; g) all six.

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