How 'The Simpsons' Crowned Its Summer Box Office Champion

Simpsons Box Office Champion — Publicity — H 2018
Courtesy of Daniel Furlong

Ryan Koh has just secured his place alongside a group of legends from The Simpsons — but this has nothing to do with Bart, Homer, Lisa or any of the Springfield gang.

Instead, Koh, a writer and executive producer on the Fox animated series, just earned a first-place finish in staff’s uber-competitive fantasy summer box office league. As part of the prize, Koh was gifted a bold red sign that sits in front of his parking spot that reads “Simpsons Box Office Champion” and gets his name added to a banner hanging from the ceiling in the staff office.

“It’s my shot at posterity,” Koh explains to THR of the milestone victory in the 10th annual contest. “It’s weirdly, earnestly proud-feeling.” But the sign may be more of a curse than a blessing: “We already have parking spaces, so it’s just a sign in addition to your normal sign but it’s much bigger so whenever it’s windy, it falls over and hits your car. It’s worth it though because it’s big and obnoxious.”

The fantasy league is spearheaded by Brian Kelley, who launched it 10 years ago. Participants meet for an auction-style event just before Memorial Day in which they can bid to purchase pieces of summer film releases using $100 box-office dollars. Koh won this year, dethroning repeat champ Rob LaZebnik (who actually tweeted out the news announcing this year’s winner) thanks to purchasing “half of the Incredibles 2, which went at a low price, and a quarter of The Avengers: Infinity War.”

He said that some of his Simpsons peers raised an eyebrow at his winning choices. “Usually you need to have some under-the-radar film that becomes a breakout hit,” Koh continues. “But this is the first year that all the big movies did pretty well, except for Solo.”

Hollywood did gangbusters summer business in 2018: From May 4 to Sept. 3, revenue hit $4.4 billion, the largest haul in two decades and the fifth-best turnout of all time, per comScore.

The Simpsons gang uses software created by one of its own to tally the scores. Koh says that Jeff Westbrook manages the program and the game has become so popular that shows including Robot Chicken and Jeopardy use the same system. Even days after the win, Koh can’t wipe the smile off his face. “I’m still getting congratulated,” he says. “It’s shockingly gratifying for something that is a little bit stupid.”

A version of this story first appeared in the Sept. 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.