The Winter edition of the Fantasy Movie League kicked off this past weekend.
The TAGN League got a boost in numbers with the coming of the winter season, jumping from seven players to an even dozen.
It was, however, a bit of a mixed start for some of us. Well, at least for me.
Of course, it was predestined to be a slow week, wedged in between the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and with few new titles showing up. And those new titles that made the list were all in limited release. How big of a box office can a new Woody Allen film expect when it is only showing on five screens?
The lineup of options looked like this:
Coco $417 Justice League $280 Wonder $230 Thor: Ragnarok $134 Murder on the Orient Express $132 Daddy's Home 2 $126 Three Billboards $74 Lady Bird $66 The Star $60 Bad Moms Christmas $44 Roman J. Israel, Esq. $36 The Man Who Invented Christmas $14 The Disaster Artist $13 Call Me By Your Name $8 Wonder Wheel $6
The question was, as always, how to spend your budget, fill out your screens, and end up with the maximum revenue. The options were many this week though, and the revenue projections a bit desultory. It is like the industry doesn’t care so much about slow weeks.
I went around and around on what to anchor on, and I think I setup variations on all of the likely suspects. Coco was expensive, but sure to lead the box office. Justice League still had me doubting. Seven screens of Thor and one filler seemed like an option. And then there were those limited engagement titles, The Disaster Artist, Call Me By Your Name, and Wonder Wheel. With low prices, small screen counts, and conservative revenue expectations any one of them might have popped up and become the price/performer of the week.
Then again, they might not.
In the end I decided to go with what felt like a somewhat conservative pick. I didn’t gamble on any of the limited screen wild cards and stuck with titles in the middle of the pack. I anchored on two screens of Wonder, which seemed like they would do at least as well as one screen of Coco, a screen of Thor, and five screens of Three Billboards, the latter expanding to more screens for the week and getting good reviews.
Things did not roll my way however. Two screens of Wonder ended up being worth less than a single screen of Coco, Thor fell just short of ten million, and Three Billboards did not deliver the five million I was hoping it might, and was nowhere close to being the best price/performer.
Instead the perfect pick for the week was Coco, four screens of Thor, and three screens of The Disaster Artist, the later being the best price/performer of the week, a selection worth $81,711,083.
359 people got the perfect pick this week. Fortunately for me, none of them were in the Meta League. The scores for the Meta League shook out as follows:
- Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $75,519,870
- SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $73,279,975
- Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $72,587,036
- Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $67,129,287
- Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $66,253,316
- Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $65,368,920
- Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – (T) $63,798,462
- Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $63,798,462
- Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $63,168,780
- Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $62,974,020
- Joanie’s Joint (T) – $60,469,634
- Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $60,364,687
- Movies Movies Movies (T) – $58,309,063
- Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $58,309,063
- Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $58,309,063
- Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $56,162,985
- Kraut Screens (T) – $53,873,432
- The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $53,195,938
- I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $53,195,938
- TAGN Movie Obsession – players from it marked with a (T)
- MCats Multiplex – players from it marked with an (M)
So the Meta League grew to 19, from 13 last season, with five new players in the TAGN League and Liore returning to MCats. That is good, though it means I need to collate a longer list each week, so more room for mistakes. Expect more mystery asterisks and such.
Logan came out on top for the week, no doubt a good feeling after ending up last season in the back half of the pack, though SynCaine, who topped the TAGN League, was not far behind. Logan anchored on two screens of Coco while SynCaine was all-in on Thor.
I was way down the list, coming in at 16th. However, I take heart in the fact that it was something of a slow week and the gap between myself and Logan is under $20 million, not an unreasonable gap, and the overall gap between first and last was $27 million, not an insurmountable distance this early in the season.
Still, this is not a time for complacency. The weeks roll by and if you don’t close the gap you’re done.
We have one more week to go before Star Wars: The Last Jedi and the holiday break brings down big box office numbers upon us. The choices for week two are:
Coco $390 Justice League $177 Wonder $169 Just Getting Started $152 The Disaster Artist $150 Thor: Ragnarok $126 Daddy's Home 2 $95 Murder on the Orient Express $88 Lady Bird $73 Three Billboards $68 The Star $58 Bad Moms Christmas $47 The Shape of Water $34 Roman J. Israel, Esq. $20 Darkest Hour $13
Pricing did not change dramatically in most cases. Coco is still expected to be the top in the box office with Justice League and Wonder trailing behind.
Three films fell off the list, The Man Who Invented Christmas, Call Me By Your Name, and Wonder Wheel. They were replaced by Just Getting Started, The Shape of Water, and Darkest Hour, the latter two in limited release.
That leaves a lot of options for the week, with any of the top six films potentially serving as an anchor, with the mix being anything from one screen of Coco to seven screens of Thor and everything in between. Four of those six are probably predictable in their results, with The Disaster Artist, now in wider release and with good reviews, and Just Getting Started, with Morgan Freeman, Tommy Lee Jones, and Renee Russo on the poster, being the wild cards.
My gut says that The Disaster Artist, being a film about making another specific film, might be a bit too inside-baseball to be a runaway success, but at its price it is worth considering.
Meanwhile Just Getting Started sounds like another contentious buddy comedy where opposites have to put their differences aside in order to survive, ala The Hitman’s Bodyguard. Basically The Mob Lawyer’s Bodyguard, if I were to give it a new title. Still, it is a formula that has worked over and over again. The question is, are we talking Beverly Hills Cop or The Last Boy Scout here?
(I had to search for an action buddy movie that failed to gross more than budget for that comparison. It is a very successful story structure. Even some titles I remember being bad were modestly successful.)
Anyway, one last week before Star Wars: The Last Jedi dominates our picks.