Winner: Brad Pitt
While fellow A-listers Johnny Depp and Will Smith watched their potential blockbusters plunge into the chasm of summer-movie obscurity, Brad Pitt triumphed where virtually EVERYONE expected him to fail. World War Z was pre-sold as a disaster. Pitt and director Marc Forster feuded on set. Co-writers were brought in to completely rework the film's ending, which led to costly reshoots. The budget ballooned, and critics sharpened their blades for the film’s inevitable release.

But Pitt saw that he had something special on his hands – a movie that actually improved thanks to the incessant tinkering. And he hit the grassroots publicity trail in a way precious few A-listers do anymore. Pitt attended multiple small, regional word-of-mouth screenings. He promoted the film beyond the lazy red-carpet appearance. And that word-of-mouth helped push Z into the black, against all odds. The zombie-apocalypse thriller is inches away from the $200-million mark domestically, and made more than $525M worldwide. Paramount’s even talking sequels, and that’s a HUGE win for what once was believed to be Pitt’s disaster.

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