Winter Movie League – Insidious Arrival

The sixth week in our Fantasy Movie League was a bit tumultuous.

It was also yest another reminder of how dependent I am on published information to make anything like a good pick.  I have absolutely no “gut” when it comes to making my picks.  Fortunately it looked like the industry was back from their holiday break and eager to report on something besides the fact that Star Wars: The Last Jedi passed the $1 billion world wide revenue mark before the end of 2017.

Of course, first we had to get through a day or two before projections and relevant data became available.

So back at the start of last week my first pick was Jumanji, Downsizing, and six screens of Molly’s GameJumanji looked to be set to win the week in the box office while Molly’s Game was finally expanding to a wider range of theaters.  And Downsizing… well, I had enough budget left to thrown that in and only have $1 remaining.

And then I started playing around with numbers.  Two Jumanji, five Coco, and a blank screen seemed like an option.  Coco seemed to be in the running for best price/performance.  But then Two Star Wars and six Coco… and no blank screen, I hate blank screens… seemed like an even better plan.  The gap between Jumanji and Star Wars didn’t seem like it would be that big.

At that point I only had some long term forecasts from last year to anchor my predictions.

Then the forecasts for the week started coming in and they were all over the board… which is not unusual.  But they seemed to trend towards Jumanji doing better than initially expected, so the gap between it and Star Wars was growing to the point that Jumanji seemed like the better anchor.

Then there was Insidious, the newcomer at the top end for the week.  The long term forecast put it a $20 million or so.  However the new forecasts were really downplaying it, calling it somewhere between $15 and 18 million while Jumanji was up near $33 million.  My spreadsheet calculations… which I had to use because the calculator at FML Nerd hadn’t been updated yet… showed that Insidious needed to get past $22 million to be considered as an anchor.  So back to Jumanji and Coco.

Then word came through that the theater estimates for Molly’s Game and Darkest Hour had been low and, with the expanded numbers, the estimated box office for both had been increased.  That didn’t do much for Molly’s Game in my book, but suddenly Darkest Hour was a better choice than Coco.  Out with Coco in with Darkest Hour.

That sat until Friday morning when the Thursday night preview numbers… which count towards the weekend total… were announced for Insidious and it had done much better than expected.  It seemed to be good for as much as $25 million, at which price point it was a better pick than Jumanji based on my estimates.

So my guess was that Insidious would be the best anchor and Darkest Hour would be the price/performance winner for the week.  Now I just had to get the most of both of them into my pick.  My spreadsheet, the FML Nerd calculator, and Po Huit’s Python tool all said three screens of Insidious and four screens of Darkest Hour, leaving one screen blank.

You cannot argue with command line output

I hate leaving a blank screen, especially when I know the estimates I am basing my pick on are all anchored in quicksand.  They are just somebody’s guesses.  But I figured with my position in the rankings it might be time to take a gamble, so I went with it, leaving a screen blank and accruing the $2 million penalty that goes with it.

Saturday came around, and with it the first updated estimates based on Friday night numbers.  At that point it looked like Insidious was a good choice, but Coco was ranked equal with Darkest Hour.  Since Coco was $2 less per screen, that made it the price/performance choice.  But the Saturday numbers are generally pretty vague and often change come Sunday.

Sure enough, with the Sunday estimate not only had Darkest Hour become the price/performance pick, but my pick… empty screen and all… was looking like the perfect pick for the week.

But nothing is ever final until the real numbers come in on Monday.  I have had the perfect pick over the weekend before only to have the final numbers go a different way.

However, things held on just enough for me to get the perfect pick, a result I shared with 142 other people.

My Winter Week Six Picks and the Perfect Pick

A perfect pick with an empty screen is fairly rare accoding to FML chatter, with it coming up about three times a year on average.

The rest of the Meta League was fairly diverse in its picks, with only pairs of people picking the same line up.  People anchored on Insidious, Jumanji, Star Wars, and Pitch Perfect 3. And while I was the only one with the perfect pick this week, there were some very close picks, so my win didn’t help me pull very far ahead of those behind me or close in on those ahead.  The scores for the week were:

  1. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $123,944,965
  2. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $118,415,470
  3. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $115,116,358
  4. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $113,922,711
  5. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $111,431,498
  6. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $111,252,163
  7. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $111,170,186
  8. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $109,655,310
  9. Kraut Screens (T) – $95,768,377
  10. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $95,759,238
  11. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $79,753,794
  12. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $78,944,993
  13. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $78,944,993
  14. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $77,577,401
  15. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $77,548,306
  16. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $68,623,472
  17. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $66,634,546
  18. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $41,270,846 (did not pick)
  19. The Bean Movie Burrito (T) – $35,036,947 (did not pick)
  20. Movies Movies Movies (T) – $19,426,717 (did not pick)

Meta League Legend

  • TAGN Movie Obsession – players from it marked with a (T)
  • MCats Multiplex – players from it marked with an (M)

Unfortunately we had multiple people who forgot to get their picks in on time this week.  Po Huit, The Bean Movie Burrito, and Movies Movies Movies all had to roll over with what they picked previously.  That is tough to bounce back from, though I will say that Liore forgot to pick one week during the Summer league and still ended up winning.  So a come back isn’t impossible, even if it is unlikely.

With the week six scores added in the Meta League rankings look like this:

  1. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $686,377,801
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $676,348,109
  3. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $642,301,603
  4. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $640,470,411
  5. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $638,239,583
  6. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $628,263,092
  7. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $604,819,790
  8. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $596,094,591
  9. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $560,388,916
  10. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $559,085,889
  11. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $546,181,283
  12. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $541,066,164
  13. Kraut Screens (T) – $540,196,641
  14. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $539,926,941
  15. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $529,480,032
  16. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $525,310,035
  17. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $506,216,308
  18. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $486,127,025
  19. Movies Movies Movies (T) – $413,464,979
  20. The Bean Movie Burrito (T) – $256,566,211

Ben remains out in front, but just $10 million ahead of Corr.  Then a ways back is the three-way race for third place with just a $4 million gap spread.  Then there is me simply hoping I can get into contention for third place, after which the pack starts to spread out.

And it will likely spread out some more with the options for week seven:

Jumanji              $293
The Post             $210
Paddington 2         $201
Insidious            $179
Proud Mary           $169
The Commuter         $143
Star Wars            $139
The Greatest Showman $132
Pitch Perfect 3      $70
Darkest Hour         $64
Molly's Game         $59
Ferdinand            $58
Coco                 $44
The Shape of Water   $41
Best of the Rest     $41

We say good-bye to I, Tonya, Wonder, Father Figures, Downsizing, and All the Money in the World  this time around, though one of them could pop up again as the Best of the Rest pick.

This week we get four new releases on the list, The Post, Paddington 2, Proud Mary, and The Commuter.

The Post ought to be a strong challenger, with Spielberg directing and starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks.  But it didn’t win any Golden Globes this past weekend and I can’t help but think I saw this played out in the TV series Lou Grant already.  We shall see.

Paddington 2, the return of the other famous English stuffed bear, this one named after a tube station rather than a bodily function, jumps into a market with a number of other kids titles still hanging about makes this an unlikely pick for me at this end of the week.

And then there is Proud Mary and The Commuter, two action films vying for the audience that is looking for that sort of thing.

All of which are going up against the still strong Jumanji, the second week of the surprisingly popular Insidious, The Greatest Showman, and the lingering threat of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

All seven of those titles want to be your anchor film of the week.

And once you have an anchor you’ll find the low end of your pick constrained by high prices, with the bottom of the list ringing in at $41.  There are not any nice $8-15 picks for filler this time around, so you can’t have all the anchor screens you may want without leaving a screen blank… and that usually doesn’t work out.

Then there is the price range itself, running from $41 to $293, a smallish gap, which does not foretell a big scoring week to my mind.  Then again, it is a four day box office weekend.

Finally, there is a crisis on the tool front, with FML Nerd shutting down.  Not only was it a handy tool, but it started the week off with some baseline estimates with which to start working.  A site called Moovee Picker has emerged however, so I am looking at that.  Still, I am really waiting for the press to roll out their last minute estimates before I lock in my picks for the week.

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