Were done with week three and there already seems to be a pattern for this summer’s Fantasy Movie League and the box office in general.
And that pattern is “under performance.”
For the third week in a row the top new releases of the week have failed to hit their expected numbers.
This past week saw Toy Story 4 dominate the weekend as expected, and even set a Pixar record for Friday numbers… which included the Thursday night previews… and yet fall short of expectations. The film was being projected to bring in between $145 and $160 million.
Instead it barely broke the $120 million barrier.
That is still literally dumpsters full of cash being hauled in for a movie that is well reviewed. Everybody I know who saw it recommends it. Even Jason Scott called it “… the best and most well made unnecessary sequel I’ve seen.”
It just didn’t get to where the industry thought it would. Is this just not a summer for movies? Because the other two new films, Child’s Play and Anna, both missed their estimates as well.
Anyway, I went all in on Toy Story 4. Taking advantage of the lack of penalty for empty screens, I went with the Friday + Saturday pick I mentioned in last week’s post, leaving blanks. That wasn’t an awful pick in hindsight, but it wasn’t as good as the full lineup I went with for other leagues.
With Toy Story 4 pulling up the way it did, the scores for the week ended up looking like this:
- Goat Water Picture Palace – $95,542,794
- Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – $89,080,065
- Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $88,349,964
- grannanj’s Cineplex – $87,148,187
- Wilhelm’s Qeynosian Kinetoscope – $86,931,732
- Conical Effort – $86,931,732
- Joanie’s Joint – $86,648,508
- Too Orangey For Crows – $85,698,734
- SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $83,672,691
- Ben’s X-Wing Exp(r)ess – $43,148,969
The perfect pick for the week was 1x TS4 Friday, 1x Child’s Play, 1x Aladdin, and 5x John Wick 3, the last being the best performer, which was good for $109 million. But nobody in the league got that.
Goat got first going with Friday TS4, Sunday TS4, 2x John Wick 3, 1x Avengers: End Game, and three empty screens. and getting in
Hamster rang in second with 1x TS4 Friday, 2x Child’s Play, 1x Dark Phoenix, and 1x Avengers: End Game, earning an extra $2 million because Dark Phoenix was the worst performer of the week.
Conical and I both went the 1x Friday TS4, 1x Saturday TS4, and six empty screens route. I only came in ahead because I had the better estimate on the tie breaker.
Of note is SynCaine, the only person on the list without Toy Story 4 in their lineup.
Unfortunately, the most common pick was forgetting to pick this week. Ben’s pick was a roll over of his pick from last week and several people past 10th place were in the same boat.
All of which left the overall scores as:
- Goat Water Picture Palace – $256,899,574
- Wilhelm’s Qeynosian Kinetoscope – $246,793,598
- Too Orangey For Crows – $237,172,334
- SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $233,860,872
- Joanie’s Joint – $224,306,550
- Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – $220,641,904
- Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $219,431,873
- grannanj’s Cineplex – $183,864,990
- Ben’s X-Wing Exp(r)ess – $176,726,850
- Conical Effort – $171,160,273
There is still not an insurmountable gap between 1st and say 7th place yet. That could be made up over the next ten weeks of the season with small wins. Anybody below that is probably going to need a big win or for the front runners to pick badly or miss a week. It has been known to happen, especially over the summer.
Then there is the alternate season score:
- Goat Water Picture Palace – 26
- Wilhelm’s Qeynosian Kinetoscope – 23
- Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – 19
- Too Orangey For Crows – 15
- SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – 15
- Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – 14
- Joanie’s Joint – 13
- Ben’s X-Wing Exp(r)ess – 10
- Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – 9
- grannanj’s Cineplex – 9
That is, of course, much tighter. Win a few weeks and you’ll be on top or vying with those who are.
All of which brings us to week four of the season. The choices for the week are:
- Toy Story 4 – $752
- Annabelle Comes Home – $319
- Yesterday – $136
- Aladdin – $126
- The Secret Life of Pets 2 – $74
- Child’s Play – $73
- Men in Black International – $69
- Avengers: Endgame – $59
- Rocketman – $41
- John Wick 3 – $38
- Godzilla – $23
- Shaft – $22
- Anna – $18
- Late Night – $17
- Dark Phoenix – $16
We have an off week for blockbusters, so Toy Story 4 is fully expected to hold on to first place by a large margin this week. Given a standard 50% drop it ought to be worth $60 million at the box office.
There are two new films on the list this week.
The first is Annabelle Comes Home, the latest entry in the Conjuring universe, which includes The Conjuring series, the Annabelle films, and The Nun. Horror, especially during the summer, is always a wildcard for me. The Annabelle movies have done well in the past, often better than expected. But what happens when Annabelle is sharing theaters with Child’s Play? Does a supernaturally evil doll care about one that is evil via a software issue? And does the fact that some drive-ins are doing the pair as a double feature have any impact?
The long range forecast is for $31 million. However, the long range forecasts have also been too optimistic pretty much every week so far, so how much stock do you put in them now?
Given the $60 million estimate for TS4, the FML pricing seems to indicate that they think $25 million is more on par. Do you take two Annabelles as an anchor or one TS4? Maybe?
The other new film is Yesterday, which features Himesh Patel as the only person who remembers the Beatles. Something happened and they are no longer part of our timeline, only for whatever reason one musician remembers them and their songs… and, of course, can play them and remembers all of the lyrics to the key hits.
So he spends a while trying to figure out why nobody has heard of the Fab Four, then proceeds to make bank by introducing the songs of the Beatles to the world, claiming them as his own. Along the way, hilarity no doubt ensues.
Now this brings up a decent late night dorm room discussion, which is whether or not the Beatles catalog is timeless and would become hits no matter when they appeared in history, or if they are part of their time and might not get noticed today. Does I Want to Hold Your Hand go anywhere in a world with 50 Cent? Can Elenor Rigby make a dent against the last know pop song ever, Uptown Funk? Would Hey Jude have to be Hey Dude as the trailer suggests?
Feel free to argue about that in the comments.
The film was written by Richard Curtis, whose works are well known, and directed by Danny Boyle of Trainspotting fame, but I am having a hard time getting behind it, if only because I know in my gut the ending has to restore the Beatles to the timeline and it will be all for naught or end up with Paul McCartney suing or something like that. Amusing premise, likely has no satisfying ending.
And the long range forecast seems to agree, pegging this at around $10 million. Decent, but no summer blockbuster. The FML pricing likewise puts it around that point. On the other hand, this is the Beatles we’re talking about here, which probably means my 70 year old aunt and all her UC Berkley friends will want to go see it. I don’t know.
And the rest of the field is just leftovers from past weeks.
So what do you pick? Do you go with the likely stability of Toy Story 4 and back fill with some titles that might break out or be under priced based on their previous week performance? That might get you 1x Toy Story 4, 1x Yesterday, and 6x Anna.
Or do you bet on a pair of Annabelles, with something like 2x Annabelle Comes Home, 2x Yesterday, 1x Rocketman, and 3x Dark Phoenix, the latter being the worst performer in week three, which might make it subject to over-conservative pricing?
I am leaning towards Annabelle, but the filler is still wide open for me.
Whichever way you go, get your picks in soon.