Week eight of our Fantasy Movie League has now passed and it was one of those strange weeks.
The usual effort involves picking an anchor film that will bring in the most dollars, and then backing it up with something at the low end of the price range that will back it up, the optimum generally being the best price/performance film. And this week started off no different than most with the following options.
Jumanji $290 12 Strong $251 The Post $209 The Greatest Showman $156 Paddington 2 $110 Den of Thieves $94 The Commuter $90 Star Wars $85 Insidious $74 Proud Mary $65 Phantom Thread $52 Darkest Hour $47 Pitch Perfect 3 $45 I, Tonya $40 Coco $34
It seemed clear that Jumanji would be at the top of the box office, so on the anchor front it was more a question of whether or not one of the other possible anchors was cheap enough to offset that. 12 Strong didn’t seem like it would be worth the investment, so after my first gut pick early in the week I changed to anchor on three screens of The Post. That left me enough room for a variety of fillers at the low end.
For filler I had my eye on The Commuter. With my own estimates, where I usually just assume a 50% drop from the previous week for movies already in play, seemed pretty likely to get the best performer bonus.
As the week went on and more estimates came in from various sources, I started to think that maybe Insidious might be the better pick and swapped over to that. Meanwhile the predictions for Jumanji were coming in higher than I expected and the forecasts for Den of Thieves, a potential filler, were all over the map, ranging from $5 million to over $11 million. At the low number it wasn’t worth considering, but at the high number it was a must-have pick.
So I vacillated. I made Jumanji my anchor, then kept changing up the filler. But I wasn’t willing to commit to Po Huit’s Tuesday “Hail Mary” pick of Jumanji and seven screens of Den of Thieves.
I went back and forth on a couple of picks on Thursday night. And then on Friday morning the number for the Thursday night previews came out. For those who want to see these early, the Box Office section at the site Deadline generally posts them around 8am on Friday morning, which gives you an hour before picks are locked.
The previews showed Den of Thieves doing nearly a million dollars on Thursday night. That was a very strong performance, making the high end estimates seem likely. Not only that, but the Thursday night preview take counts towards the weekend box office totals, so Po Huit’s “Hail Mary” pick on Tuesday suddenly became the “well duh!” pick on Friday morning as I and nearly a thousand other Fantasy Movie League players jumped on board.
Included in the 981 people who got the perfect pick were six people in the Meta League, including the five of the top six contenders, so the scores ended up like this:
- Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $144,947,926
- Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $144,947,926
- Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $144,947,926
- Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $144,947,926
- Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $144,947,926
- Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $144,947,926
- Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $126,670,568
- SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $121,553,968
- Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $101,579,844
- Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $101,579,844
- Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $69,599,900
- The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $66,917,547
- Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $65,732,064
- The Bean Movie Burrito (T) – $65,663,644
- I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $65,397,597
- Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $65,026,990
- Kraut Screens (T) – $64,525,769
- Joanie’s Joint (T) – $59,748,952
- Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $58,307,592
Meta League Legend
- TAGN Movie Obsession – players from it marked with a (T)
- MCats Multiplex – players from it marked with an (M)
Those who went with Den of Thieves topped the list while those who failed to get on board suffered, with the dividing line being about the $100 million mark. Above that, you have Den of Thieves in your line up, below that and you did not.
The over all Meta League standings after Week Eight were:
- Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $936,932,561
- Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $926,443,555
- Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $875,631,244
- Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $863,905,925
- Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $858,511,984
- Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $847,362,620
- Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $818,958,132
- Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $793,368,709
- Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $779,256,658
- SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $752,756,746
- Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $714,914,429
- Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $690,400,935
- Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $669,741,531
- Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $661,721,152
- I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $686,033,235
- Kraut Screens (T) – $686,023,088
- The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $672,441,442
- Joanie’s Joint (T) – $667,201,673
- The Bean Movie Burrito (T) – $334,926,516
The week ended up with something of a “the rich get richer” scenario as those five of the top six who went with the perfect pick pulled further away from the pack. But it brought no joy to Corr in his attempt to catch Ben and, while I am now in contention for third place, first and second got no closer.
So that was the result of what ended up being a poorly priced week. And Den of Thieves was not alone on the list. Corr noted last week that the film Forever My Girl, a new film opening in over a thousand venues, was somehow missing from the list and ended up in 10th place in the US box office over the weekend. Oops.
That was Week Eight. Now we’re on to Week Nine and more potential comedy. The movie options and pricing had to be up by Monday at 5pm Pacific Time, but the Oscar Nominees were only announced twelve hours later, early on Tuesday morning, and the nominee list may influence the weekend box office.
Sure, we all know Three Billboards is going to be nominated, as it already expanded onto more screens last week. (I went and saw it finally, and there was an ad for Fantasy Movie League before the showing. Direct hit on the target audience I guess.) Three Billboards made it to 17th place for the weekend box office, and might move up further, but what else might see a resurgence due to announcements? Well, the price list for this week is:
The Maze Runner $358 Jumanji $222 The Greatest Showman $134 The Post $129 12 Strong $128 Den of Thieves $127 Hostiles $126 Paddington 2 $93 The Shape of Water $86 Phantom Thread $81 Three Billboards $68 Best of the Rest $67 Forever My Girl $64 The Commuter $58 Star Wars $57
New to the list this week are The Maze Runner and Hostiles, while Forever My Girl, which should have been on the list last week since it placed 10th in the US box office, finally makes it. Then there is The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, both of which return to the list, being obvious Oscar nominees even before they were announced. There is also a Best of the Rest options, which I think is there to cover FML in case some nominee surges in the theater count.
Falling off the list was Darkest Hour, Pitch Perfect 3 , I, Tonya, Coco, Insidious, and Proud Mary. Darkest Hour might be the only surprise there given that it also seemed likely to get an Oscar nod. But it can come back via that Best of the Rest slot.
The assumption this week is that Jumanji will finally fall from first place, to be replace at the top of the box office by the third installment of the Maze Runner franchise… also the second one not to feature the maze.
Meanwhile, the following films still in release were nominated for the Best Picture award, so might be expected to see a boost at the box office: (full list here)
- Darkest Hour
- Lady Bird
- Phantom Thread
- The Post
- The Shape of Water
- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
Coco and Ferdinand (and Boss Baby!) were also nominated for animated feature.
My normal early week lack of direction is enhanced by the possibility of the nominations changing the game. I will definitely be checking the theater counts over at Box Office Mojo when they show up on Thursday afternoon before making my final pick.