Fall Movie League – Fantastic Grinches and Where to Find Them

Week eleven is now in the books for our Fall Fantasy Movie League.

The lineup for week eleven looked like this:

Fantastic Beasts 2            $699
The Grinch                    $387
Bohemian Rhapsody             $203
Instant Family                $180
Widows                        $167
A Star is Born                $55
The Nutcracker                $54
Overlord                      $49
Nobody's Fool                 $36
The Girl in the Spider's Web  $36
Venom                         $27
Boy Erased                    $19
Halloween                     $14
The Hate U Give               $12
Can You Ever Forgive Me?      $12

The big dog on that list was Fantastic Beasts 2, the latest edition of J.K. Rowling’s attempt to get by without Harry Potter in what one might be tempted to call the “Harry Potter Cinematic Universe.”  The HPCU.  Let’s just run with that.

The original Fantastic Beasts did $74 million its first weekend out back in 2016, which would have been great for any normal movie, but which feels low against the core set of Harry Potter films.  The first did $90 million, unadjusted for inflation, its first weekend out.

So that set the bar for Fantastic Beasts 2 which, among other things, was getting some mediocre reviews.  That set me against the title as the week wore on.  I was with it on Monday, but by Wednesday I was elsewhere.

Elsewhere brought me to Instant Family.  Like horror films, the Mark Wahlberg genre is one I tend to discount to my regret.  I have been beaten by lineups anchored on his films many times, but I keep betting against him.  So this week I latched onto him, thinking he might be the key, grabbing five screens of Instant Family as my anchor.

But as the week wore on my resolve faded.  Forecasts did not buoy my optimism and on Friday morning, when I was still holding onto Instant Family across most of my leagues, the preview results rolled in and got me to abandon ship.  Instant Family fell behind the less expensive Widows (not Windows!), sinking my hope for the pick.

Meanwhile, preview results for Fantastic Beasts 2 seemed pretty strong.  It looked like it would be a solid enough first place run as to possibly secure the best performer slot as well.  So, at the last minute, I jumped to a lineup anchored on that, ending up with 1x Fantastic Beasts 2, 5x A Star is Born, 1x Halloween, and 1x That Hate U Give.

I wasn’t alone in that anchor, as 12 out of 15 people who picked for week eleven went with Fantastic Beasts 2 in that slot.  The exceptions were SynCaine and Ben, who opted for The Grinch, and Goat, who was in for Instant Family.

And while the estimates showed that Fantastic Beasts 2 wasn’t a bad anchor, The Grinch road in on the impending holiday spirit to take the best performer spot, making it the anchor to have.

That led to the weekly scores shaking out as:

  1. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $98,026,745
  2. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $96,183,956
  3. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $85,223,784
  4. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – $85,110,655
  5. grannanj’s Cineplex – $84,939,807
  6. Joanie’s Joint – $84,857,105
  7. Too Orangey For Crows – $84,832,552
  8. I HAS BAD TASTE – $84,654,264
  9. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics – $84,610,411
  10. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $84,610,411

As noted, SynCaine and Ben were on the Grinch train this week, while everybody else in the top ten was anchored on Fantastic Beasts 2, with mostly minor variations in filler picks, leading to a pretty tight pack.

The full season scores so far:

  1. Goat Water Picture Palace – $826,594,162
  2. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – $820,473,669
  3. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $805,034,609
  4. Too Orangey For Crows – $797,427,212
  5. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $787,031,803
  6. I HAS BAD TASTE – $784,756,380
  7. grannanj’s Cineplex – $763,250,473
  8. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics – $754,047,245
  9. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $750,243,901
  10. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $748,414,346

The scoring was too close for much change in the top ten.  Ben made the biggest move with his pick, but the list was mostly static.

The alternate scoring looking like:

  1. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – 63
  2. Goat Water Picture Palace – 58
  3. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – 56
  4. Too Orangey For Crows – 52
  5. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – 41
  6. I HAS BAD TASTE – 40
  7. Ben’s X-Wing Express – 39
  8. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – 37
  9. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – 35
  10. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – 35

A strong showing by Corr put him at the top of that list, while Goat failing to make the top ten wasn’t quite enough to let me pass.  Ben moved from 10th to 7th spot while SynCaine jumped onto the list and into 8th position based on his ten point finish, demonstrating the volatility of this scoring method.  With only two weeks left anybody twenty points or more out of first isn’t going to be able to win, but the top four spots are all very much in contention.

And so that wraps up week eleven.  For week twelve the options are:

Ralph Breaks the Internet $566
Creed II                  $363
Fantastic Beasts 2        $362 
The Grinch                $307 
Bohemian Rhapsody         $146
Instant Family            $127
Robin Hood                $94
Widows                    $94
Green Book                $68
A Star is Born            $39
The Nutcracker            $36
Overlord                  $22
Boy Erased                $15
The Front Runner          $12
Nobody's Fool             $11

Falling off the list for week twelve were Venom, Halloween, The Girl in the Spider’s Web , The Hate U Give, and Can You Ever Forgive Me?.

Replacing them are Ralph Breaks the Inernet, Creed II, Robin Hood, Green Book, and The Front Runner.

It is also Thanksgiving this week in the US, which means a full week off for many and a four day weekend for most, save for the government, banks (who, by law, cannot be closed four days in a row), and those poor souls who must work retail on the busiest shopping day of the year.  With kids on the loose and parents looking to distract them, this has all the makings of a pretty big box office weekend.  The question is, who will benefit the most.

First on the list of new titles is Ralph Breaks the Internet, the sequel to 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph.  On the one hand, this looks like a strong entry from Disney Animation Studios on a week where films aimed at kids will likely make bank.

On the downside, it does face some competition.  The Grinch is still out there farming the holiday season.  Fantastic Beasts 2 also lurks, waiting to pull away older kids and Harry Potter fans.  And, frankly, Wreck-It Ralph wasn’t exactly Pixar popular, so you have to ask how much pull a sequel has even on a potential perfect storm weekend.  Long range forecasts had it at about $52 million, but Disney is calling it in the mid $60 million range.  However, Disney might be talking about a five day holiday total, so take what you will from that.

Next in line is Creed II… or, if you prefer, something like Rocky VIII I think.  Rocky Balboa is back training Adonis Creed, son of champion Apollo Creed of past fame in the series, to… probably punch a guy a lot I am going to guess, but only after training a lot to punch a guy and having some sort of crises of confidence or something.  That seems about right.

I mean, we’re getting this because Creed was good, but it still won’t be Raging Bull.  And while the setup, the son of Apollo Creed fighting the son of the man who killed him in an exhibition fight has lots of back story to it, I’m a bit worn out on all that.  Let me just bop along to Eye of the Tiger when it comes on the oldies station in peace.  Long range forecasts had it at about $30 million last I checked, and it is a the only film about punching on the bill this week.  Could be worth it.

And then it is time to get stuck into another remake of Robin Hood.  The public domain is jam packed with stories, but we’re going back to Sherwood Forest to spit on Errol Flynn’s grave or something.  I mean just go look at the list of films and TV series based off of the character over on Wikipedia.  This is like the seventh production this decade, and there are at least three more in development.

So, in a world where pretty much everybody in Hollywood has been attached in some way to a production of Robin Hood, including a Disney animated version, what is going to set this apart from the pack?  Well, we get the guy who was Eggsy in The Kingsmen as the titular character, with Jamie Foxx as his mentor.  Jamie Foxx is going to steal the show harder than Morgan Freeman did when paired up with Kevin Costner in yet another Robin Hood film from the past.

Anyway, my derision aside, the long range forecasts have this at about $9 million, and it would feel lucky to get that if I had my way, something MetaCritic seems to confirm, give its current 33% score.  Ouch!

Next up is Green Book, the story of an Italian American bouncer who becomes the driver for a Jamaican pianist for his tour of the deep south during the turbulent 1960s.  The film takes its title from The Negro Motorists Green Book, a one time guide to safe travel for blacks in an America where segregation and Jim Crow laws were an overt part of every day life.  Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen reportedly give life to this comedy drama.  The film opened last week, so no preview dollars, but is expanding this week.  Forecast estimates are between $5 and $6 million.

Finally there The Front Runner, a bio-pic about Gary Hart’s 1988 presidential run, with Hugh Jackman in the role of the candidate.  I think the 1984 run would have been more fun, bringing back the Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?” commercial and all that, but you go with what you’re given I guess.  This should seem almost charming and innocent, a story about a presidential candidate’s campaign being derailed by the fact that he had an affair given the laundry list of affairs the current sitting president has to his credit.

Still, Hugh Jackman ought to be good and I am old enough to remember the whole thing… sort of… it was still a while ago.  I had to look up the name of the boat on which Hart and Donna Rice were alleged to have met.  I was thinking Risky Business, but it was Monkey Business.  Either would have worked though.  as with Green Book, The Front Runner has already been out a week and is expanding to about 500 screens this week.  That is about half of what Green Book is getting and there is no forecast, so call it $2 to $3 million on a guess?

So that is week twelve, and it is a somewhat eclectic mix.  Ralph and The Grinch are fighting over the kids market, which will be big this weekend, while Fantastic Beasts 2 tries to pull teens and young adults it way.  Creed II is there for the adult males, while A Star is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody are still around for the musically inclined.  Green Book and The Front Runner can serve the art theater crowd, Overlord is still there for zombie horror fans, Widows, despite my flubbing the title last week, turns out to be an interesting female led crime drama, Boy Erased confronts gay conversion therapy, Robin Hood is out there for whoever hasn’t already seen any one of the likely better versions of the tale (including the Disney animated version and the Mel Brooks parody), Nobody’s Fool is still out there for Tyler Perry fans, and Instant Family is on site for those who go to see Marky Mark films I guess.

Oh, and be wary of forecasts.  Because of the holiday week many of them are quoting five day numbers rather than three day numbers for the weekend.  And movies this week are officially releasing today… I think, some sources say that… so there are no preview dollars involved.  Only Friday, Saturday, and Sunday count.

So after all that, what to pick?

My Monday Hot Takes league picks tried to cover all bases with 2x Fantastic Beasts 2, 1x Bohemian Rhapsody, 1x A Star is Born, 1x The Nutcracker, 2x Overlord, and 1x Nobody’s Fool, but I will be watching how things play out on Thursday night before committing to my final Friday morning pick.