Anthony’s Corner: Examining the connection between the USC Trojans and Will Ferrell

Answering questions that absolutely nobody is asking

In the real world, Will Ferrell is a well-known comedian and actor. He’s played everything from a semi professional basketball player to a NASCAR driver in movies.

In the world of college football, he’s one of USC’s biggest and most famous fans. And in the interest of answering questions that no one has asked, I wanted to know: Is there a relationship between Will Ferrell’s movie’s success and USC football?

First, I took the release date of every major Will Ferrell movie and compared it to how the team did within a week of that game along with the critic Rotten Tomatoes score for that movie. Each link is a picture of the movie cover. NOTE: I only looked at movies that were released during football season. Thus, no Anchorman, Blades of Glory, Talladega Nights, etc.

I chose Rotten Tomatoes because it’s the easiest and well known. And also, it is my post and I do what I want.

Movie Rotten Tomatoes Score Release Date Result
A Night at the Roxbury 11 10/2/1998 W
The Thin Pink Line 50 10/7/1998 L
Superstar 32 10/8/1999 L
The Suburbans 0 10/29/1999 L
The Ladies Man 11 10/13/2000 L
Zoolander 64 9/28/2001 L
Elf 84 11/7/2003 W
Melinda and Melinda 52 9/17/2004 W
Winter Passing 40 9/10/2005 W
Stranger Than Fiction 72 11/10/2006 W
Megamind 72 11/5/2010 W
Everything Must Go 75 9/10/2010 W
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues 75 11/24/2013 W
Daddy’s Home 31 12/9/2015 L
Daddy’s Home 2 19 11/10/2017 W

You’ll notice that in games played near the release date of a Will Ferrell movie, USC is 9-6. During times where Will Ferrell appears as his character on the actual movie poster, the Trojans are a solid 9-3. When USC wins, the average Rotten Tomato score is 52.8. When they lose, the average Rotten Tomato score is 31.3. So it would appear that when Will Ferrell appears in a movie and it does well, USC wins.

And now we have the average Rotten Tomato score per year for all Will Ferrell movies released along with USC’s record and their postseason result from that year.

Year Average Rotten Tomatoes Score Record Bowl Result
1997 35 6–5
1998 30.5 8–5 L Sun
1999 38.5 6–6
2000 20 5–7
2001 58.5 6–6 L Las Vegas
2002 7 11–2 W Orange
2003 72 12–1 W Rose
2004 56.2 11–0 W Orange
2005 45.5 12-1 L Rose
2006 70.7 11–2 W Rose
2007 70 11–2 W Rose
2008 38 12–1 W Rose
2009 26.5 9–4 W Emerald
2010 75 8–5
2011 50 10–2
2012 47.7 7–6 L Sun
2013 55 10–4 W Las Vegas
2014 96 9–4 W Holiday
2015 30 8–6 L Holiday
2016 23 10–3 W Rose
2017 18.5 11–3 L Cotton

When you take the average Rotten Tomato score from seasons where USC won 9 games or more you get 50.8. When USC wins less than nine games, you get a score of 41.9. Again, when Will Ferrell does well, USC wins games. And when they win a bowl game, Will Ferrell movies get an average Rotten Tomato score of 51.4. When USC makes a bowl game but loses, Will Ferrell movies get an average Rotten Tomato score of 44.5. And finally, when USC has a .500 level season, losing season, or doesn’t make a bowl, Will Ferrell movies get an average Rotten Tomato score of 31.2.

The numbers sort of support the idea that when Will Ferrell does well, USC wins games.

Now, let’s take a trip through time. It’s 2001, USC has had another .500 season with a loss in the Las Vegas Bowl and things aren’t looking great. It’s Pete Carroll’s first season and people are wondering “What the hell is with this hire?” Meanwhile, Will Ferrell has had poor movie appearance after poor movie appearance. Then something happened. That something was Zoolander. Will Ferrell plays fashion designer Mugatu in the Ben Stiller comedy. He gets one of his highest reviews to date. The very next season USC shoots to an 11-2 finish and an Orange Bowl victory. From that point on, USC wouldn’t win less than ten games until 2009. Will Ferrell’s movies also took off, with such classics as Elf, Talladega Nights, Blades of Glory, Step Brothers, and the first Anchorman coming out during this time frame. Many would call this the Golden Age of Will Ferrell and one of the best periods in USC history. Will even made an appearance at one of USC’s practices during this time as Captain Compete:

Then 2009 and early 2010 happened. The NCAA started an investigation into USC for Reggie Bush’s gifts that he accepted from agents. Will Ferrell’s movies also bombed during this time with two movies in 2009 being rated a 26 and a 27.

In 2013 and 2014, USC and Will Ferrell returned to prominence with USC winning two straight bowl games after their ban was lifted and Will Ferrell crushing it with Anchorman 2 and his highest Rotten Tomato score to date with The Lego Movie with a 96.

So to answer the question posed at the beginning, I’m going to go with a solid most likely. For 2018, Will has two movies being released, Holmes and Watson in November and Zeroville, which is supposed to released sometime this year. We will see if the connection continues. With USC expecting to be somewhat decent this year, we can expect Will Ferrell’s new movies to be fairly good.

Thanks for reading. I’m sorry to have wasted your time. I hope you at least enjoyed yourself.

PS – Obligatory: