Daily Archives: November 28, 2018

WildStar Shuts Down

Today is the day that WildStar faces the inevitable end and goes dark.

The news came back in September that WildStar would be shutting down.  The surprise wasn’t so much that it would shut down but that it lasted as long as it did, given how keen NCsoft has been in the past to terminate titles.  Many a City of Heroes fan still laments that the game was making money when it was closed.

Back when the announcement came I wrote a post that summed up the lift of the game, from the idealistic foundation to the harsh realities of the MMO market through to the seemingly inevitable demise. That post includes links out to many others doing the same.

The announcement of a game closing seems to be the point of reflection, the time for shock and acceptance, gloating and regret, nostalgia and dismissal.  By the time the actual closing date comes much of the emotion has run its course.

And so we say good-bye to WildStar today.  It has run its course.  Launched in June of 2014, it ran for nearly four and a half years.  Carbine Studios itself, founded back in 2005 by former Blizzard employees who had worked on World of Warcraft, was shut down back in September.

Others saying farewell to WildStar:

Fall Movie League – Ralph Breaks the Deadlock

Penultimate.  I’m only sorry I failed to use my favorite word in last week’s post when looking over the options.  But now week twelve, the penultimate week, of our Fall Fantasy Movie League is done and gone and there is only one more chance to do well or blow it.

The week twelve options were as follows:

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

We had a couple of big new anchors on the list.

It was pretty obvious that Ralph Breaks the Internet was going to get the top spot, the question was whether or not it would be worth the price.

How Creed II would fare was less certain.  It was poised and priced for second place, but Thanksgiving weekend tends to be a kids movie weekend.  Then again, counter programming for adult sports fan might work.

Fantastic Beasts 2 was into its second week while The Grinch was on his third.  There was a match up of the Harry Potter universe sans Harry Potter against The Grinch in his primal season.  The moment you’re done with your last slice of pumpkin pie the law says it is Christmas season.

And then there was Bohemian Rhapsody and Instant FamilyBR was aging but still had some strength while Instant Family was priced to move after failing to meet expectations on its opening week.

For the Monday Hot Takes league I was feeling like Fantastic Beasts 2 might be the anchor of choice.  It is hard to beat Harry Potter, even when it lacks Harry Potter.

However, on Tuesday evening my wife and I went and saw the confused mess that is Fantastic Beasts 2.  Harry Potter, as a series, has always felt more than a bit ad hoc to me, picking up and dropping things at a whim, but at least each movie had a weighty tome behind it to explain things.  Not so with FB2, which put me off it as an anchor.  And while my personal views about a movie are rarely a good guide, this time around my gut served me well.

As part of the holiday week, the new titles officially opened on Wednesday rather than Friday, which meant no preview dollars to work into ones calculations.  It also meant a bunch of five day forecasts, rather than the usual three day weekend versions.

On the upside, we all got a good look at how the week’s line up was doing starting with the Tuesday night previews.  Both Ralph Breaks the Internet and Creed II looked to be out performing expectations.  Likewise, The Grinch was doing solid, secure in the holiday season.

In the end I decided to opt for two screens of Creed II, though in hindsight I should have gone for a screen each of Ralph and Creed.  My hope was that filler would make up the difference, and my lineup was 2x Creed II, 2x Widows, 1x A Star is Born, 1x Overlord, and 2x The Front Runner.

Come the Saturday morning estimates, Ralph looked to have the best performer nod, which grants it an additional $2 million per screen.  But the numbers were very close and Saturday is often a fool’s paradise as the estimates are pretty rough.

On Sunday though, Instant Family took over as the estimated best performer, with the perfect pick anchored on five screens of it, giving it a $10 million boost.  But the estimates were still very close.

When the actuals started rolling in, Instant Family came up a bit short on its estimates and fell out of the best performer role, to be replaced by The Grinch.  At that point SynCaine had the perfect pick.  But the numbers necessary for another change were still too close to feel secure about anything.  Then the Ralph and Creed II numbers came in and Ralph was on top again.  At that point everything hinged on how well The Grinch did.  It just needed to do about $300K better than its estimated box office, barely a 1% change, something that is pretty standard on any given week.

However, when The Grinch finally reported, he was up just 0.6% from the estimate.  Ralph took the best performer nod.  That was not good for me, knocking me out of the top ten for another week.

The numbers for the week ended up like this:

  1. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $99,473,989
  2. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $99,214,810
  3. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $99,205,717
  4. I HAS BAD TASTE – $99,205,717
  5. grannanj’s Cineplex – $98,144,855
  6. Too Orangey For Crows – $97,873,450
  7. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $96,974,610
  8. Goat Water Picture Palace – $94,271,930
  9. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $93,015,598
  10. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – $93,004,638

Ben took the week, and anybody who went with Ralph and Creed II as anchors made it past the $99 million mark.  Still, it was a tight week with the gap between high and low of those who picked standing at about $7 million.

That tight of a range meant not much movement in the overall season totals, which ended up looking like this:

  1. Goat Water Picture Palace – $920,866,092
  2. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – $913,478,307
  3. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $904,240,326
  4. Too Orangey For Crows – $895,300,662
  5. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $886,505,792
  6. I HAS BAD TASTE – $883,962,097
  7. grannanj’s Cineplex – $861,395,328
  8. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $844,566,659
  9. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $843,259,499
  10. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $840,558,352

The gap between Goat and I is close enough that I might be able to make it to first, so long as we don’t pick such similar line ups again.  Corr isn’t too far back, but the gap is big enough that Goat and I probably have to pick badly for him to have a hope at first place.

On the alternate scoring front though, things look much rosier for Corr.

  1. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – 71
  2. Goat Water Picture Palace – 61
  3. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – 57
  4. Too Orangey For Crows – 57
  5. Ben’s X-Wing Express – 49
  6. I HAS BAD TASTE – 47
  7. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – 41
  8. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – 41
  9. grannanj’s Cineplex – 38
  10. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – 38

Corr isn’t a 100% lock to win the alternate scoring, but in order for him to fall into second he has to forget to pick or pick so badly that he doesn’t make the top ten AND Goat has to get first place.

Ben’s rise up the ranks has probably reached its zenith, though he could get up to third place if he can manage another first place finish and both Bhagpuss and I do poorly.

So that is how it stands.  The volatile alternate scoring looks to have already picked its winner while the traditional scoring, where the winner is generally obvious by now, still has a couple of possible outcomes.

All of which brings us to the final week, week thirteen, and the titles we have to work with.

Ralph Breaks the Internet       $460
The Grinch                      $334
Creed II                        $304
Fantastic Beasts 2              $205
Bohemian Rhapsody               $144
Instant Family                  $134 
Robin Hood                      $73
Widows                          $67
Green Book                      $64
The Possession of Hannah Grace  $57
A Star is Born                  $32 
The Nutcracker                  $27
The Favorite                    $18
Boy Erased                      $14
Nobody's Fool                   $8

It is going to be an odd week as there are no big new releases, so we have to work with pretty much the same anchor options as before.

For filler we do lose Overlord and The Front Runner, getting The Possession of Hannah Grace and The Favorite in their place.

The Possession of Hannah Grace is a supernatural horror film… just the season for that… involving an exorcism gone wrong, a midnight morgue delivery, and demonic possession.  I know I always under estimate the draw of the horror genre, but is the timing on this bad enough?  Long range tracking has it down for $3 million for its opening weekend.

Then there is The Favorite, an 18th century period-piece comedy drama, if that is really a thing, about two women competing for the favor of Queen  Anne.  It stars Olivia Coleman (Hot Fuzz, Broadchurch) as the queen, with Emma Stone (La La Land, Birdman) and Rachel Weisz (so many damn things, but the only one of the three to be a guest on The Simpsons), who are all top notch, but it isn’t even being tracked and the pricing puts it at like a third of The Possession of Hannah Grace, so call it maybe $1 million?

Where does that leave us?

Ralph is going to be strong, and there is enough cheap filler that you can get away with two screens of it and not face an empty slot penalty.  But you really have to believe.

The Grinch is in his home season, enough so that it is the one film that went up in price this week.  But it is also going into its fourth week and the kids are all back in school until Christmas, so will it be worth the money?

Fantastic Beasts 2 is still Harry Potter without Harry Potter and in its third week… and remains a mess that only a true fan could love or understand.

Then, for the adult audiences, there is a Creed II in its second week and Bohemian Rhapsody going into its fifth.

And, finally, you can go with as many as seven screens of Instant Family as an anchor if you’re feeling it for Marky Mark.

For me it is a toss up between two screens of Ralph and three screens of Creed II, each supported by some very cheap filler options.  Maybe two screens of The Grinch, if it looks like it is staying strong, and some more expensive filler to back it up.  No matter what, it seems likely to be a slow week, so my hopes of catching first place are probably only slightly better that Goat’s hopes to win the alternate scoring title.

My Monday Hot Takes compromise pick is 1x Ralph, 1x Creed II, 1x Bohemian Rhapsody, and 5x The Favorite on the hope that this is the season for 18th century period-piece comedy dramas.

Finally, as a heads up, at the end of this season, which will come to a close with next week’s post, that will be it for FML here for a while.  I will be taking a break from running and posting about the TAGN league.

If somebody else wants to run a league, blog about it, or whatever, I’ll join in.  And I will leave the TAGN league up and still likely pick every week.  I just won’t be doing any posts about it here.  The plan is to get back to that for the summer blockbuster season again in 2019.