Winter Movie League – The Mid Point

No, I am not going to cover the winter season the way I covered past seasons, with weekly updates and such.  But people in the TAGN league are still playing every week and it has been interesting to watch.  We’re now about at the mid point of the season, with week six having finished and week seven coming up, so I thought I would do a post about how things are playing out.

Also, this past weekend was one of those season defining weeks where, if you didn’t jump on the right anchor you likely got left behind.

Up until week six there was a pretty tight race going for the top three spots between Goat, SynCaine, and myself, with not much of a gap between us and the rest of the pack.  It wasn’t a bad spread, with those far behind usually because they missed a week.

And then week six hit and The Upside, which had been predicted to do about $13 million, and had been priced accordingly, did $20 million so if you didn’t anchor on that you were screwed.  Only Goat and I had the right anchor.  I went with 4x The Upside and 4x Vice while Goat went with 5x The Upside, 2x Vice, and 2x empty screens, which turned out to be the perfect pick.

I cannot recall when the perfect pick included two empty screens.  I actually toyed with that lineup, as I felt that The Upside was a bit under priced given its buzz (Kevin Hart’s problems hosting the Oscars only helped on that front), but couldn’t bring myself to leave two empty spots.  So the week looked like this:

  1. Goat Water Picture Palace – $116,010,830
  2. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – $102,363,320
  3. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $64,170,306
  4. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $64,170,306
  5. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $60,659,845
  6. Too Orangey For Crows – $58,586,516
  7. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – $57,438,761
  8. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – $54,186,025
  9. Joanie’s Joint – $49,762,629
  10. Skar’s Movies and Meat Pies – $45,964,923

Basically, if you anchored on The Upside you ended up above $100 million.  If you chose anything else you were below $65 million.

That left the overall scores for the winter season looking like this:

  1. Goat Water Picture Palace – $525,553,244
  2. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – $512,671,360
  3. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $473,761,625
  4. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $441,359,364
  5. Joanie’s Joint – $423,390,275
  6. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $421,728,914
  7. Too Orangey For Crows – $417,649,958
  8. Skar’s Movies and Meat Pies – $411,093,170
  9. grannanj’s Cineplex – $388,827,991
  10. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – $379,559,593

While this hasn’t been a “real” season, at least ten people have picked every week so far… not always the same people, but still at least ten… so the league has been active.

And, as noted, while week six was interesting due to its outcome, week seven looks interesting due to its choices.  The line up for week seven is:

Glass FRI/SAT                      $586
Glass SUN/MON                      $336
The Upside                         $212
Aquaman                            $190
A Dog's Way Home                   $128
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse  $126
Dragon Ball Super                  $87
Mary Poppins Returns               $73
Bumblebee                          $70
Escape Room                        $67
Bohemian Rhapsody                  $62
On The Basis of Sex                $56
The Mule                           $56
If Beale Street Could Talk         $51
Green Book                         $39

This coming weekend is a holiday in the US, so Monday will count towards the weekend totals.

It also sees the opening of Glass, the long delayed sequel to UnbreakableGlass is clearly expected to top the box office, but not by enough to split it into four days.  I am interested to see how Glass does.

Unbreakable did very well back in 2000.  I remember going to see it.  Over at Screen Junkies they did an Honest Trailer about it, which was as amusing as usual.  But the commentary video about that was interesting as they discussed how, when Unbreakable was launched, super hero films were not nearly as thick on the ground as they are today, largely thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and how Unbreakable might be viewed were it released today.  A super hero origin story is a well established part of the genre now, but back then… well, I am not sure it was obvious at the time that Unbreakable was a super hero story.

And then there is Split from 2016, which I only learned as I went to look up the release date for Unbreakable, was actually tied in with the original, with Glass bringing those two together.  I am not sure how that will play into things, but there it is.

Anyway, an interesting week.  I am still debating on whether to bet on 1x FRI/SAT or 2x SUN/MON when it comes to Glass, but I am sure my anchor will be one of those.

Also, while I have indulged myself in a mid-season check-in, I don’t think I will suddenly resume weekly posts.  My drafts folder is full enough that I am not dying for post topics.  But I might come back at the end of the season just to post results and put up the link to join the league again for the spring season.  Spring will be another practice season, so to speak, before I go back to real coverage for the summer blockbuster season.

4 thoughts on “Winter Movie League – The Mid Point

  1. Bhagpuss

    Glass has abysmal reviews but playing this game I have learned that for certain types of movies, reviews make absolutely no difference to the opening weekend, when all the people who have already decided to see the thing are going to see the thing no matter what. For this season I am mostly picking as soon as the picks open, doing at most fifteen minutes “research” (i.e. reading Rotten Tomatoes) and then leaving it to see what happens. So far it’s not going well.

    That Upside result was so far out of left-field, though, that I would never have picked it even if I’d reserched for a week. I’d be very interested to know what decided Goat to go with two empty screens. I’m not sure I’ve seen anyone do that intentionally before.


  2. Rohan Verghese

    I’m just casually observing, but it feels like this competition has become very binary. You either pick the one film which overperforms the estimate the most (your “anchor”) and you win, or don’t pick it, and you lose. Over a season it basically devolves into who picked the correct anchor the most.

    It feels to me like there should be some matching of screens to audience. Like if Film A does 60% of the box office, B does 30%, and C does 10%, the winner should be the person who most closely matched that. Rather than paying for screens by expected performance. Leaving screens empty being a winning move is very odd to me.


  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Rohan – To a certain extent any way you configure it the people who make the right picks are going to win. Otherwise there would be little point. Last season I did an experiment with an alternate scoring method which used only the weekly ranking as opposed to the cumulative score, the idea being to remove the big boost from those weeks when the FML team doesn’t price correctly.

    That changed the ranking some, but the top five players were the same on both scoring methods, so I am not entirely convinced that the big wins for badly priced weeks are necessarily skewing the results by that much. (You can see the results for that season here.) And the anchor isn’t always the film that over performs. A lot of weeks, when the anchor is obvious, and FML prices things right, it comes down to picking the best performing filler. Every week one of the fifteen films gets that $2 million bonus for being the best price/performer. That people don’t pick the safe anchor on those weeks seems to be as much a desire to take a risk for a win that would put them ahead as anything. I know I’ve done that when I’ve been behind. Sometimes it pays off too.

    An empty screen on a perfect pick is fairly rare. Something that happens maybe once a season. Two empty though, that means the FML people messed up. But clearly some people saw that coming.

    And that brings me to Bhagpuss’s statement that The Upside was out of left field. The problem is, I disagree with that. I did my pick on Wednesday and it seemed pretty clear to me with all the attention Kevin Hart was getting that it would out perform A Dog’s Way Home, which was priced more than it. This was confirmed by the Thursday night preview results. Bumping up the box office estimate in the Cineplex Builder that FML has built into its site gave me the perfect pick line up. But I went against that based on my gut. I did okay, but not perfect. But my plan was still about the same, getting as much of The Upside as I could and topping off with the most expensive filler that would fit.

    There are a lot of tells out there, and a lot of information you can sift through if you’re into it, from studio estimate to comparable films released and comparable times to the Fandango ticket pre-orders. Goat said at the end of last season that he mostly picked based on the Thursday night previews, while I know Ben watches the ticket orders. Both of them do very well consistently. But they don’t win every week.

    Anyway, I agree that it is imperfect. It does depend on FML doing the pricing right. But any football pool depends on somebody doing the point spread right as well. And even when they do, upsets happen and that randomness is part of what makes it interesting.


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