Summer Movie League – Shaft Shafted but The Dead Don’t Die

Week two of our Summer Fantasy Movie League is in the books and there were some big misses.

First up there was Men in Black International which was expected to land close to the $40 million mark.  Lukewarm reviews, other viewing options, and probably the previous two movies, conspired to chop that down to $30 million over the weekend.  If you anchored on this, you were not having a good weekend.

But your weekend wasn’t as bad as anybody who bet on Shaft.  The sequel to the year 2000 film of the same name was expected to coming in around $23 million, but instead landed just shy of $9 million for the weekend.  Even that $2 million Worst Performer bonus can’t fix that bad landing.

Late Night was on a more even keel.  Expected to make about $5 million in its limited engagement, it brought in $5.2 million.  Right on the mark for somebody.

And finally there was The Dead Don’t Die, which seemed to me to be the prime contender for best performer.  It was also the one film I went and saw this past weekend.  Cracking $2 million would have made it a solid pick at the price, so when it ended up hauling in $2.5 million it was difficult to see anything else taking away its best performer bonus.  John Wick 3 and Booksmart were the next closest two, and they were both a ways from making the cut.

With all of that in place, the scores for the week ended up looking like this:

  1. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $80,306,365
  2. Wilhelm’s Qeynosian Kinetoscope – $80,306,365
  3. Too Orangey For Crows – $76,868,694
  4. Joanie’s Joint – $72,344,312
  5. Goat Water Picture Palace – $70,251,452
  6. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $68,493,131
  7. Ben’s X-Wing Exp(r)ess – $57,592,078
  8. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – $54,331,713
  9. grannanj’s Cineplex – $52,655,472
  10. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $49,774,361

The perfect pick was 2x Secret Life of Pets 2, 1x Rocketman, and 5x The Dead Don’t Die.  Nobody went with that, though two of us were close.

SynCaine and I tied (he got first place via the tie breaker) on 2x Secret Life of Pets 2, 1x Godzilla, and 5x The Dead Don’t Die.  Given the pricing, Godzilla just seemed like the right pick last week.  Bhagpuss took third on 2x Secret Life of Pets 2, 1x Rocketman, 1x Ma, 3x The Dead Don’t Die, and 1x Detective Pikachu.  Joanie scored a fourth place finish going all in on Elton John with 7x Rocketman and 1x John Wick 3.  And Goat got fifth with 2x Secret Life of Pets 2, 2x Rocketman, 3x Booksmart, and 1x blank, making them the only one to take advantage to the lack of empty screen penalty this week.

At the bottom end of the list were those who bet on a MiBI + Shaft double anchor, except for Po who doubled down on Shaft, but was somewhat redeemed by four screens of The Dead Don’t Die.

All of that leaves the season scoring looking like this:

  1. Goat Water Picture Palace – $161,356,780
  2. Wilhelm’s Qeynosian Kinetoscope – $159,861,866
  3. Too Orangey For Crows – $151,473,600
  4. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $150,188,181
  5. Joanie’s Joint – $137,658,042
  6. Ben’s X-Wing Exp(r)ess – $133,577,881
  7. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – $131,561,839
  8. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $131,081,909
  9. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $126,711,141
  10. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – $117,754,888

It is a tight race at the top.  But it is also just week two and there are some weeks ahead where you may end up with lineups that add up to more than your total score right now.

For the alternate scoring, the list looks like this:

  1. Wilhelm’s Qeynosian Kinetoscope – 17
  2. Goat Water Picture Palace – 16
  3. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – 13
  4. Too Orangey For Crows – 12
  5. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – 10
  6. Joanie’s Joint – 9
  7. Ben’s X-Wing Exp(r)ess – 9
  8. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – 9
  9. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – 7
  10. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – 6

The alternate scoring isn’t very useful early on in the season, with lots of ties and wild changes in position, but at about the mid point it starts to shape up.

All of which leads us to week three where the elephant in the room is Toy Story 4.  Add Pixar magic to good pre-screening reviews and parents needing a summer movie to get the kids out of the house and the total looks like it will pass $150 million.  It will dominate so hard that it has, of course, been split into three days, leaving the week three picks as:

  1. Toy Story 4 FRI – $519
  2. Toy Story 4 SAT – $473
  3. Toy Story 4 SUN – $390
  4. Child’s Play – $170
  5. Secret Life of Pets 2 – $133
  6. Aladdin – $128
  7. Men in Black International – $124
  8. Rocketman – $63
  9. Dark Phoenix – $47
  10. Anna $46
  11. Godzilla – $35
  12. Shaft – $34
  13. John Wick 3 – $33
  14. Late Night – $28
  15. Avengers Endgame – $23

There is pretty much Toy Story 4 and then everything else.  There is no winning this week without some Pixar on your side.  It will be in all the theaters.

Still, there are two other new titles, Child’s Play and Anna.

Child’s Play is a remake of the 1988 horror flick of the same name that introduced the horrible Chucky doll to the world.  This title restarts the seven film franchise, with the change being that the new Chucky won’t be a doll possessed by a serial killer, but a robot doll run amok.  Chucky is said to be WiFi and Blue Tooth enabled, so no doubt that will play into things.

The studio has also been playing up the fact that it is opening against Toy Story 4, putting out posters of Chucky with objects implying that he had killed Woody, Buzz, and other members of the regular Toy Story cast.

The long range forecast for Child’s Play sat at $18 million for opening weekend the last I checked, but horror films are often a surprise during the summer, and a franchise like this has some additional draw, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it did better, positioned as a counter play to the obvious favorite.

And then there is Anna.  This is a Luc Besson title, which gives it a bit of a cult following as an opener.  He is responsible for such classics as Nikita, Leon: The Professional, and The Fifth Element. On the other hand, his followers in the states don’t number enough to guarantee success, as we saw with Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets two summers back.

The current long range forecast has the film pegged at about $4.5 million.  It hasn’t been marketed heavily and there hasn’t been much said or written about it, and what has been said makes it sound a lot like Nikita. The IMBd has it tagged with “one woman army.”  Oh, and there are no reviews yet, always a bad sign, but if you go look for reviews you’ll probably see them for the 2013 film of the same name, which got poor reviews, which people might not notice is the right film.

But it does play against the dominant title of the week, it has Helen Mirren in it (though she is almost unrecognizable in her role), and the Nikita formula worked for Luc Besson before, spawning an American remake and at least one TV series, though the sexy female assassin card has been played a lot since, most recently in Red Sparrow and Killing Eve I suppose.  Maybe it breaks out by being a new alternative this week, but it seems more likely to falter.

Which brings us to the big question of the week, which day of Toy Story 4 to go with?   It is summer, so who knows.  Friday will get the preview numbers rolled in, Saturday will no doubt be big on its own, and then there is always Sunday.  So if you want a full lineup of screens you can have Friday, Saturday, or Saturday and Sunday, all of which will leave you enough room in your budget for filler.

But you have to ask yourself, if there is no penalty for blank screens, do you just go with Friday and Saturday and leave the rest of the lineup empty?  If Toy Story 4 exceeds, that might be the way to go.

Or maybe you just take Friday, 1x Child’s Play, and 6x Anna and hope she breaks out and gets the best performer this week.

Make your picks soon.  The league locks late Thursday night Pacific time.

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