Category Archives: Movies

Fall Movie League – Reviews Do Not Matter

We are now past week five of our Fall Fantasy Movie League and it was an odd week.

The lineup for the week looked like this:

Venom                    $799
A Star is Born           $546
Smallfoot                $190
Night School             $170
The House with a Clock   $92
A Simple Favor           $46
The Nun                  $34
Crazy Rich Asians        $30
Hellfest                 $26
The Predator             $20
White Boy Rick           $15
Peppermint               $10
The Hate U Give          $8
Free Solo                $7
The Meg                  $6

Unlike with week four, there did not appear to be an obvious anchor candidate.  There was no badly priced Smallfoot sticking out like a sore thumb.

Instead, there was a toss up between Venom and A Star is Born.  Or it sure seemed like a toss up, even when the Thursday night previews showed up.  Smallfoot was a potential anchor, and there was an argument to be made that, as a kids film, it was unlikely to be affected by the other two, but I wasn’t buying into that.  In my mind there were only two choices.

The argument for Venom was basically that it was another Marvel superhero movie, something that the box office over the last couple of years says we are not totally sick of yet.  That was about it.

The argument against Venom was that it was not in the Marvel cinematic universe with the other marvel movies of late, such as Black Panther and Avenger: Infinity War.  Instead it was a Sony Marvel movie, and the Sony side of Marvel movies is basically the X-men, some part of Spider-Man, and this Spider-Man spin-off.  That is still pretty popular and all, but not main MCU popular.

Also, Venom is about a somewhat icky second tier anti-hero that managed to get a 35% score on MetaCritic. (Up from 33% last week.)   So yeah.

Whatcha gonna do when they don’t like you?

For A Star is Born the highlights were good reviews (see above) and the fact that it stars Lady Gaga.  What else do you need?

The only things going against it were an R rating, which keeps out the kids, and the fact that it was the third remake of the same movie.  But being a remake isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  The Judy Garland version of The Wizard of Oz was something like the seventh or eighth attempt to put that story on screen, and that is the one most of us know.

So even when the Thursday night previews came out showing Venom at $10 million and A Star is Born at $4.55 million, the choice was not obvious.  Venom was pre-loaded with fans who were going to see it no matter what, but for a strong weekend some word of mouth was going to have to be in play.  Bad word of mouth could have stifled the film.

With less than 10 minutes to go and competing lineups anchored on both films ready to be copied across, I decided to bet on Marvel.  I filled in with Hell Fest which, with Halloween in the offing, seemed like it might be good for best performer.  So I was 1x Venom 7x Hell Fest.

Come Saturday morning estimates it seemed like Venom was the safe choice, though a lineup with Free Solo, which then had the best performer nod, would keep you in the running if you anchored on A Star is Born.

Then Sunday rolled around and the estimate for Venom jumped up, giving it the best performer nod, leaving A Star is Born in the dust as an anchor.  And then the estimate jumped up again, landing at $83 million on Monday morning, before the final numbers dropped it back to $80 million.

The perfect pick run was so tight that it changed with about every new final number that came on Monday.  In the end it was 1x Venom 1x House With a Clock, 1x The Nun 2x Hell Fest and 3x Free Solo.

Nobody in the TAGN league got the perfect pick, and the results for the week shook out like this:

  1. I HAS BAD TASTE – $96,886,446
  2. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – $96,842,069
  3. Skar’s Movies and Meat Pies – $96,842,069
  4. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $96,202,870
  5. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $96,202,870
  6. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $77,389,267
  7. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $77,389,267
  8. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $76,746,743
  9. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – $76,694,291
  10. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics – $76,678,834

Out of the sixteen people who picked, five went with Venom, ten went with A Star is Born, and one went with Smallfoot.  The results were stratified by anchor, though the Smallfoot pick was better than one A Star is Born lineup.  Isey got the top spot by a mere $44K, followed by three pairs of identical picks, with ties decided by the FML tie breaker option.

That left the overall season scores looking like this:

  1. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – $364,940,448
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $341,242,583
  3. I HAS BAD TASTE – $333,407,717
  4. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $331,163,002
  5. Too Orangey For Crows – $330,236,294
  6. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $330,213,456
  7. Goat Water Picture Palace – $329,582,823
  8. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $317,341,987
  9. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $316,998,683
  10. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – $312,521,699

Corr and I are battling for first place while everybody else on the list is pretty much in a close race for third and anybody on that list could reach first place with a strong week.

The alternate scoring ended up like this:

  1. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino 33
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex 32
  3. I HAS BAD TASTE 27
  4. Too Orangey For Crows 24
  5. Goat Water Picture Palace 23
  6. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex 22
  7. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party 21
  8. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex 19
  9. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite 19
  10. Ben’s X-Wing Express 13

Only one tie this week in the top ten.  While Corr and I are at the top, a bad week for one of us or a first place win for most of the rest could change that.

And so it goes.  Week five is gone and now we must look forward to week six and the new options it brings.

Venom                    $501
A Star is Born           $412
First Man                $371
Goosebumps 2             $265
Smallfoot                $150
Bad Times                $149
Night School             $109
The House with a Clock   $57
A Simple Favor           $27
The Nun                  $21
Colette                  $21
The Hate U Give          $21
Crazy Rich Asians        $19
Free Solo                $14
Best of the Rest         $12

This time around we lose The Meg, Hellfest, The Predator, White Boy Rick, and Peppermint.

Coming in to replace them are First Man, Bad Times, Goosebumps 2, Colette, and Best of the Rest.

First Man is a biopic about Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.  It stars Ryan Gosling and has strong reviews, but is probably limited by the topic at hand.  How exciting is three guys traveling a quarter million miles to a barren moon when we’re getting like two Star Wars movies every year lately?  Estimates put it in the $20 million range.

Goosebumps 2 is a sequel so we’ll apply the 85% rule to it.  The original opened at $23 million, so the sequel should be good for just under $20 million.  Long range tracking is calling it at about $17 million, give or take.

Bad Times at the El Royal, to give it its full title, has an ensemble cast and is some sort of mystery set in 1969.  The early estimates are all over, but the floor seems to be about $10 million for it given the decent reviews and the cast.

Colette is a biopic about a French author of the same name who penned the novella Gigi.  It stars Keira Knightley, but otherwise my insights are limited.  Pricing is likely due to a limited scope of release.

And finally our old friend Best of the Rest is back in play, which means that anything that fell off the list this week, or never made it to the list in the first place, is in play.  Best of the Rest often has a good chance at the best performer spot, though only if FML doesn’t mess up the pricing elsewhere on the list.

So I am in my usual state of not having a lineup I feel strong about.  My Monday Hot Takes pick ended up being 1x First Man, 1x Goosebumps 2, 2x Bad Times, 1x A Simple Favor, and 3x Best of the Rest.  But that feels like a bet on red, trying to be safe at a time of limited information.  Certainly how well Venom seems to hold will play into my picks.  I suspect my lineup will change a lot between now and when the league locks on Friday.

Fall Movie League – Smallfoot, Small Gap

Week four of our fall Fantasy Movie League is over and it was a near run thing.

The lineup of options for week four looked like this:

Night School            $616
Smallfoot               $363
The House with a Clock  $318
A Simple Favor          $148
Hellfest                $128
The Nun                 $102
Crazy Rich Asians       $85
The Predator            $83
White Boy Rick          $55
Peppermint              $41
Little Women            $33
Fahrenheit 11/9         $30
Searching               $25
The Meg                 $24
Life Itself             $20

As I noted last week before things locked, the pricing for the top three items looked out of whack given even the early estimates that were floating around.  It seemed unlikely that Night School would nearly double Smallfoot‘s box office, nor did it look like A House with a Clock would bring in nearly as much.

The main thing arguing against Smallfoot was the fact that it came from Warner Animation Group, which has had some hits and misses.  The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Batman Movie both did well, but Storks and The LEGO Ninjago movie were not so hot at the box office.  It was east to see Smallfoot as another Storks.

If you were not confident in the top three, there was always A Simple Favor, which I bet on for my Monday Hot Takes picks.

However, as the week went on and more forecasts and predictions came out, it became clear to me that FML had fumbled the pricing ball and that the way things stood you pretty much had to anchor on two screens of Smallfoot.  The real question of the week was what filler should back it up.

I was all over the map on that, and went into Friday morning with four different lineups.  I decided that, since Little Women wasn’t doing Thursday night previews that I would dump the lineup with that.  A good call, as Little Women only managed 16th place overall, falling behind The Wife, which was dropped for week four.  The only filler behind it was Life Itself, which was in 17th spot for the week, though it was better than Little Women in price versus box office.

In the end I went with 2x Smallfoot, 1x The Nun, 1x White Boy Rick, 1x Peppermint, 3x Searching.

The end scores were so close that it wasn’t until every last film was reported that the perfect pick was certain.  That went to 2x Smallfoot, 1x The Nun, 3x Peppermint, 2x The Meg.

Nobody in the TAGN League got the perfect pick, but the scores were still very close in the top ten, ending up like this:

  1. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – $62,686,328
  2. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – $62,555,574
  3. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics – $62,554,907
  4. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $62,119,154
  5. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $62,119,154
  6. Goat Water Picture Palace – $62,119,154
  7. I HAS BAD TASTE – $61,744,693
  8. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – $61,635,230
  9. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $61,563,031
  10. grannanj’s Cineplex – $59,045,460

There was a $3.6 million gap between first and tenth place.  Everybody on that list. plus SynCaine in 11th place, anchored on two screens of Littlefoot, which got the best price performance bonus of $2 million per screen.  Those who anchored on one screen fell back a ways, and those who went with other anchors fell further behind, with Night School being the worst anchor choice of the week.

That left the top ten scores for the season so far as:

  1. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – $268,098,379
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $263,853,316
  3. Too Orangey For Crows – $254,276,019
  4. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $253,773,735
  5. Goat Water Picture Palace – $253,118,233
  6. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $240,251,940
  7. I HAS BAD TASTE – $236,521,271
  8. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – $235,827,408
  9. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $234,010,586
  10. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $229,195,406

There was some movement on the list, most noticeably Darren dropping five places due to anchoring on Hellfest, but the inertia of past box offices is already starting to settle in.

In the alternate scoring however every week, big or small, adds 55 points to the overall total of scores.

  1. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – 27
  2. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – 24
  3. Too Orangey For Crows – 24
  4. Goat Water Picture Palace – 23
  5. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – 20
  6. I HAS BAD TASTE – 17
  7. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – 17
  8. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – 16
  9. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – 13
  10. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – 8
  11. Joanie’s Joint – 8
  12. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics – 8

As with week two we have a three way tie for 10th spot, so I put all three on the list.  Corr managed to take the lead this week while I am tied up with Bhagpuss for second now.  Not bad considering I was one of those tied for tenth in week two.  That is some volatility.  And nobody is so far back that a couple first place wins wouldn’t put them in contention.

That is how it stands at the end of week four, so it is time to look forward to week five, which features this lineup:

Venom                    $799
A Star is Born           $546
Smallfoot                $190
Night School             $170
The House with a Clock   $92
A Simple Favor           $46
The Nun                  $34
Crazy Rich Asians        $30
Hellfest                 $26
The Predator             $20
White Boy Rick           $15
Peppermint               $10
The Hate U Give          $8
Free Solo                $7
The Meg                  $6

We lose Searching, Fahrenheit 11/9, Little Women and Life Itself from the list this week.

Replacing them are Venom, A Star is Born, The Hate U Give, and Free Solo.

At the top of the list is Venom, featuring yet another Marvel comic book character in a major movie release.  However, this isn’t the Marvel Cinematic Universe where Deadpool and The Avengers live.  No, this is the Sony side of Marvel where the X-Men reside and Spider-Man comes and goes.  Welcome to Hollywood film rights.  Venom himself was part of Spider-Man 3, back when Toby Maguire was in that role, or about two Spider-Mans… Spiders-Men… Spider-Men… ago.  I think.  I don’t really care enough to look it up.

Anyway, superhero film, likely dominate the box office with estimates in the $65 million range.

Next up we have A Star is Born starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, a remake of the 1976 A Star is Born starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, which itself was a remake of the  1954 A Star is Born starring Judy Garland and James Mason, which was, in turn, a remake of the 1937 A Star is Born starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March.

While it hasn’t been remade as often as The Wizard of Oz or Little Women, it looks like we’re getting a version of this every generation.

And while it is adulting about on a week when a superhero film is launching, it does star Lady Gaga and is being called at around $45 million.

After two new films dominating the box office, the other two are down in the cheap seats.

The Hate U Give, based on the novel of the same name, is the story of a girl who is torn between her life in a poor black neighborhood and her life in the rich, mostly white prep school she attends and how events in her community affect her and draw her into activism.  It is in limited release, showing in under 40 theaters.

Finally, there is Free Solo which is not, as I first feared, another Star Wars Story.  Instead it is the story of Alex Honnold’s attempt to free solo climb (no ropes or other such equipment) El Capitan in Yosemite.  It is also in limited release, expected to show up in about 20 venues.

Given that these two films are down with The Meg, which did just over $1 million last week, they aren’t looking to burn up the box office.  On the other hand, low expectations and low estimates leave room for surprises.

As for my picks, for the Monday league I went for 1x Venom, 6x CRA, and 1x The Predator, which seemed like a safe pick.  But for the TAGN league pick I am still torn between Venom and A Star is Born as an anchor.  I need more data.

Fall Movie League – Fahrenheit Nun Won One

Week three of our Fall Fantasy Movie League is in the books and it was a strange week indeed.

Well, the main bit of strangeness was that I was actually correct in my logic when it came to picking my anchor this week.  The Nun looked to have the best chance to out-perform its pricing given how big of a drop that pricing seemed to anticipate relative to other returning titles.  The pricing looked like this for week three.

The House with a Clock   $476
The Predator             $216
A Simple Favor           $202
The Nun                  $173
Life Itself              $143
Crazy Rich Asians        $127
Fahrenheit 11/9          $115
White Boy Rick           $98
Peppermint               $75
Assassination Nation     $69
The Meg                  $49
Searching                $41
Christopher Robin        $25
Mission: Impossible      $25
Unbroken 2               $24

Granted, I had no idea how The House with a Clock was going to do.  Screen Junkies, in their review, liked the movie a lot but seemed to confirm my impression that the word was out as far and wide as it could have been, plus they seemed to think that the trailer did not do the film justice.  Since I believe everything Roth Cornet and Dan Murrell tell me when it comes to movies, that was enough to steer me clear of Jack Black as an anchor this week.

I was leery of The Predator, after its first week out and rightfully as it came to pass.  While it was priced at second place it ended up coming in fourth behind A Simple Favor and The Nun.

I was likewise suspicious of Life Itself, an release from Amazon Studios.  Again, a good call as it really failed to get anywhere close to the numbers it needed to justify its price.

I suppose CRA was an anchor option, but I never really considered it.

And then there was the momentary flirtation with Michael Moore and Fahrenheit 11/9, where I was telling myself it “only” had to exceed projections by 50% to be the clear choice.  I reigned myself in on that one pretty quickly and, as it turned out, the film barely made two thirds of its $5 million projected weekend box office.

Which left me with A Simple Favor and The Nun.  As I said, I was tempted to re-run week two’s perfect pick and anchor on A Simple Favor filled in with The Meg. But FML tends to punish perfect pick films with more aggressive pricing the following week, so I ended up with The Nun.

For the Monday Hot Takes league I went with 5x The Nun, 1x Peppermint, 2x Mission: Impossible.

As the week went along and I thought about it more, I changed my lineup to 5x The Nun, 2x The Meg, 1x Mission: Impossible.

Of course, as happened the previous week, my Monday picks did better than my late picks.  Not a ton better, but some.  Nobody got the perfect pick however, which ended up being 5x The Nun, 1x The Meg, 2x Searching.

That left the top ten scores for the week looking like this:

  1. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – $65,521,864
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $54,176,991
  3. Too Orangey For Crows – $50,622,934
  4. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $49,955,967
  5. I HAS BAD TASTE – $49,955,967
  6. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $47,460,646
  7. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – $47,319,063
  8. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $42,459,713
  9. grannanj’s Cineplex – $39,553,652
  10. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $37,765,801

Being the only one who went with 5x The Nun as an anchor put me ahead of the pack.

Corr and Bhagpuss followed up anchoring on The House with a Clock, after which the pack was a mix of anchors on The Predator or The House with a Clock.

That left the overall season box office scores as:

  1. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – $205,542,805
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $201,734,162
  3. Too Orangey For Crows – $200,501,899
  4. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $192,664,970
  5. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $192,210,704
  6. Goat Water Picture Palace – $190,999,079
  7. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $178,132,786
  8. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $177,090,641
  9. I HAS BAD TASTE – $174,776,578
  10. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – $173,141,080

My performance was enough to pop me up into first place for the overall seasonal score, though my lead is fairly thin.  Corr did well enough to just skirt past Bhagpuss, taking second place.

The big hits went to Goat and Po, both of who made large bets on Fahrenheit 11/9 which, as I said, failed to perform.  That dropped Goat from first to sixth and Po from fourth to seventh place.

The alternate scoring count however is starting to diverge, looking like this at the end of week three:

  1. Too Orangey For Crows – 24
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – 21
  3. Goat Water Picture Palace – 18
  4. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – 15
  5. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – 15
  6. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – 13
  7. I HAS BAD TASTE – 13
  8. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – 10
  9. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – 9
  10. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – 8
  11. Joanie’s Joint – 8

Again, I have more than ten on the list because tenth spot was a tie.  There are actually three ties currently in the top 11, which I have sorted using the season box office total as the tie breaker.

While the season box office rankings swung wildly for a couple of us, the alternate scoring was less volatile as the weight of the win doesn’t matter, only the ranking for the week.  Bhagpuss is showing himself as the most consistent contestant so far, kicking him up into first place despite not having won a week yet.  The first three weekly winners are all behind him, with Goat only dropping to third place, having missed the cut for any points.

So there we go.  Now on to week four which has the following options:

Night School            $616
Smallfoot               $363
The House with a Clock  $318
A Simple Favor          $148
Hellfest                $128
The Nun                 $102
Crazy Rich Asians       $85
The Predator            $83
White Boy Rick          $55
Peppermint              $41
Little Women            $33
Fahrenheit 11/9         $30
Searching               $25
The Meg                 $24
Life Itself             $20

Leaving the list this week are Christopher Robin, Mission: Impossible, Unbroken 2, and the Amazon Studios one week wonder Assassination Nation.

New to the options this week are Night School, Smallfoot, Hellfest, and Little Women.

Night School is a Kevin Hart vehicle.  You either like his schtick or you don’t, but it doesn’t really change from movie to movie.  The current forecast has this somewhere past $30 million, and it is probably good for it.  Unless something is drastically wrong Kevin Hart is a pretty reliable draw.

Smallfoot is this week’s kids movie, and the title made me think of The Land Before Time series, which my daughter watched when she was little. (Littlefoot, Smallfoot, whatever.  I can also still sing the Wonder Pets theme song.)  Instead it features a Yeti who, I guess, has small feet, thus debunking the “bigfoot” nickname.  The studio was projecting it in the $22 million to $27 million range which, if true, make this an obvious price per screen winner over Night School, which would have to get to $40 million to complete.  Likewise, The House with a Clock looks way over-priced if Smallfoot is good for that range.  So maybe Smallfoot isn’t?

Hellfest is a Halloween night horror flick getting on the seasonal action a little early.  Long range tracking on it has been down and the floor for it seems to be at about $6 million now.

And then there is Little Women, which breaks the pattern this week, being a four syllable title in a list of otherwise two syllable entries.  It makes me wonder how much title length affects box office.  Anyway, enough time has gone by since the last movie based on the work by Louisa May Alcott that we needed a new one it seems.  Every generation needs their own version.  There is no long range forecast on this, but pricing makes this a filler choice in maybe the $2 million range.  Could be a wild card.

With all of that, my Monday Hot Takes league pick was 6x A Simple Favor, 1x CRA, and 1x Searching.  We’ll see if I change up for the worse again this week.  I likely will as, after that league locked I realized that A Simple Favor had to drop less than 35% to be worth it as an anchor.

Fall Movie League – Blogger Win

We’re now past week two of our Fall Fantasy Movie League, which means I have to start doing season scores as well as weekly.  One week of relative ease.

Week two saw a host of new films, five in all or a full third of the lineup, opening up a range of choices.  The list looked like:

The Predator         $408
The Nun              $338
A Simple Favor       $257
White Boy Rick       $137
Crazy Rich Asians    $131
Peppermint           $86
The Meg              $43
Unbroken 2           $40
Searching            $40
Christopher Robin    $31
Mission: Impossible  $28
BlacKkKlansman       $22
Operation Finale 2   $21
Alpha                $18
The Wife             $18

With five anchor options it was tough to nail down just how to start a lineup.  For the Monday Hot Takes league I decided that Anna Kendrick as a crime solving blogger was too much of a hint to pass on, so went with 3x A Simple Favor and 5x Searching.

And if I had copied that to all my leagues and just walked away, I’d have been better off.  Well, I would have beaten Corr and ended up in ninth place rather than tenth.

Instead I did research, and the research options for week two were all over the map.  Box Office Pro and Deadline have both given up on making predictions for the top ten, concentrating mostly on new releases or, when feeling generous, the top five, leaving me with at least ten price points to simply guess at.  Other sites are rather notoriously extreme in their picks, wishcasting as opposed to forecasting.  Then there was the hurricane battering the east coast, sure to diminish the box office.  No power and rising water do not a movie night make.

So I ended up with a bunch of options.  I can say that, at one point, I did have the perfect pick as one of my lineups.  But, in the end, I went with 1x The Nun, 1x CRA, and 6x Peppermint, the latter seeming like it might have a shot at best performer.

Instead the pick to go for was 3x A Simple Favor and 5x The Meg, which was the perfect pick for the week.

That left the week’s scores looking like this:

  1. Goat Water Picture Palace – $82,349,322
  2. Too Orangey For Crows – $68,053,892
  3. Joanie’s Joint – $65,202,555
  4. I HAS BAD TASTE – $65,202,555
  5. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – $64,580,993
  6. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $64,507,781
  7. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $64,261,740
  8. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $64,261,740
  9. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $62,975,918
  10. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – $62,951,994

Goat got the perfect pick which put them way ahead of the pack, while Bhagpuss secured a solid second anchoring on Predator and A Simple Favor.  7x White Boy Rick as an anchor claimed four spots out of the top ten, the dividing point being what went into that eighth screen.  And then there was Corr who slipped ahead of me by just about $24,000.

All of that left the season top ten looking like this:

  1. Goat Water Picture Palace – $166,930,575
  2. Too Orangey For Crows – $149,878,965
  3. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $147,557,171
  4. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $145,107,210
  5. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $144,750,058
  6. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $142,709,003
  7. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – $140,020,941
  8. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $139,324,840
  9. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – $138,593,155
  10. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $127,690,233

Goat, in a three way tie for first last week and all alone in first this week starts to open up a lead for the season.

Meanwhile, the alternative seasonal scoring looks like this at the end of week two.

  1. Goat Water Picture Palace – 18
  2. Too Orangey For Crows – 16
  3. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – 12
  4. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – 10
  5. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – 9
  6. Joanie’s Joint – 8
  7. I HAS BAD TASTE – 7
  8. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – 6
  9. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – 6
  10. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – 5
  11. Ben’s X-Wing Express – 5
  12. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – 5

I ended up listing out a dozen this week as there was a three-way tie for tenth place.  One thing missing from my plan is a tie-breaker, though if it turns out we need one at the end of the season I suppose the seaon box office total for each player will work.

As with the end of last season, the top three scores are the same people, but after that the group gets shuffled a bit.

But another week looms, with the choices being:

The House with a Clock   $476
The Predator             $216
A Simple Favor           $202
The Nun                  $173
Life Itself              $143
Crazy Rich Asians        $127
Fahrenheit 11/9          $115
White Boy Rick           $98
Peppermint               $75
Assassination Nation     $69
The Meg                  $49
Searching                $41
Christopher Robin        $25
Mission: Impossible      $25
Unbroken 2               $24

Week three sees four titles dropped from the list, BlacKkKlansman, Operation Finale, Alpha, and The Wife.

Replacing them are The House with a Clock in its Walls, Life Itself, Fahrenheit 11/9, and Assassination Nation.

The House with a Clock, because, like your local theater, I am dropping the last three words off the marquee, is a fantasy about a boy going to live with a loony relative who happens to be a warlock, so magical adventures ensue.  I have to assume some comedic nature to the film as it stars Jack Black.  Long range tracking has it good for about $22 million and if you go see it IMax you also get to see a 3D version of the Michael Jackson Thriller music video.

Life Itself is a tale of couples across generations tied together by a single event, though that event is left out of the description.  Sort of a couples Cloud Atlas maybe?  It is getting horrible reviews and nobody has bothered to cover it for long range tracking, so I am going to assume it is over-prices at $143.

Fahrenheit 11/9 is the one new film this week that I had some inkling of before I started writing this post.  I haven’t liked Michael Moore since Roger & Me, but he has a following and he plays to it once again, this time with Donald Trump and his election as the target.  And while that is a worthwhile target, I am not sure what he’ll deliver that hasn’t been beaten half to death or that I’m not getting from Last Week Tonight.  Long range tracking has it at $5 million.  Will play okay on the coasts, not so well in the heartland.

Finally there is Assassination Nation.  Described as a dark comedy, it is also a dark horse in the running this week with mediocre reviews and not much in the way of name recognition.  There isn’t even a theater count estimate for it yet.  I suppose it does have one of the Skarsgård clan in it, if one of the lesser members.  I’m not sure if that is enough to hang your hat on.

Overall, sitting at this end of the week, I don’t have a strong feeling as to which way things will go.  There are a lot of variables.  If Fahrenheit 11/9 does $7 million then seven screens of that with The Nun would be a winner.  It is, as of this writing, the least picked film of the week, so that would be a real outsider bet.   If The Nun or CRA manage another low drop week, then you might consider those as anchors.  I tried that last week and, while they did land softly, it wasn’t enough.  And maybe Jack Black is a big enough draw to make The House with a Clock a worthwhile choice.  However, his work tends to require a strong cast for him to play off of.

There is a temptation to run with a rework of last week’s perfect pick and go with 4x A Simple Favor, 3x The Meg, and 1x Searching, but the first two need to really hold on for that to be a winner and FML tends to punish best performers the week after.

In the end, my Monday Hot Takes league pick was 5x The Nun, 1x Peppermint, 2x Mission: Impossible.  We’ll see how I feel about that as the week goes on.

Fall Movie League – Nun the Less

The first week of our fall Fantasy Movie League is now done.  The post is a day early this week as I have a bloated mega-post planned for tomorrow already.

It looks like we have 16 people ready to go for the season based on the first week’s picks including at least one new player.  This first week saw a new film back at the top of the box office after a couple of weeks of carry overs dominating.  The lineup for the week looked like this:

The Nun                     $615
Crazy Rich Asians           $218
Peppermint                  $205
The Meg                     $88
Mission: Impossible         $62
Searching                   $62
Operation Finale            $52
God Bless the Broken Road   $48
Christopher Robin           $42
BlacKkKlansman              $37
Alpha                       $32
Happytime Murders           $30
Mile 22                     $26
Incredibles 2               $26
Hotel Transylvania 3        $16

On Monday I was still thinking Crazy Rich Asians might continue to be the right pick for anchor.  But then I read up on The Nun and found out that it was part of a whole series of very successful horror movies, including last year’s Annabelle Creation.  That, the growing projections over the week, and the Thursday night preview take got me to swap to The Nun as my anchor.  However, I did next to no research on filler titles which was my downfall for the week.  Right anchor, wrong filler.  I ended up with 1x The Nun and 7x The Incredibles 2.

Not the worst pick, but The Incredibles 2 dropped a lot with the passing of Labor Day and the start of school in the US.

The Nun was the best performer for the week, exceeding expectations by a fair margin, so was the anchor you had to go with to be a contender.  The perfect pick for the week was 1x The Nun, 1x The Meg, 2x Searching, and 4x Christopher Robin.  Nobody in the TAGN league managed to get the perfect pick.

The top ten scores for the week were:

  1. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $84,581,253
  2. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $84,581,253
  3. Goat Water Picture Palace – $84,581,253
  4. Too Orangey For Crows – $81,825,073
  5. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $81,551,873
  6. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $80,242,277
  7. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – $77,068,947
  8. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – $76,451,282
  9. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $75,063,100
  10. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $63,428,493

As I said, this season will be top ten lists only.  Also, since this is the first week I don’t have to do a season score as well.

Corr, Po, and Goat all picked the same lineup.  For the box office scoring the ranking doesn’t make any difference unless you want to brag about having won the week.  But for the new scoring system order matters, so getting the tie breaker correct suddenly matters.

With the new scoring system the stack is the same but the scores are different.

  1. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – 10
  2. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – 9
  3. Goat Water Picture Palace – 8
  4. Too Orangey For Crows – 7
  5. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – 6
  6. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – 5
  7. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – 4
  8. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – 3
  9. Ben’s X-Wing Express – 2
  10. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – 1

I decided to go with just awarding points to the top ten, as in the example I posted last week.  With 16 players in the season I considered more points, 12 or 15, but decided against that for now.  I can change it later, but more points seemed likely to stretch the gap between first place and last.  Right now first place can only ever gain 10 points on somebody in a week, rather than 12 or 15.

The two scoring systems on week one do look very different.  The box office score doesn’t show a huge gap between first and ninth place, while the new scoring has first place gaining 10x the points of 10th spot.  I suspect that as we get towards the end of the season the the box office scoring system will effectively have a much wider gap while the new scoring system will lead to a tighter race at the end.  We shall see.

Coming up for week two we have:

The Predator         $408
The Nun              $338
A Simple Favor       $257
White Boy Rick       $137
Crazy Rich Asians    $131
Peppermint           $86
The Meg              $43
Unbroken 2           $40
Searching            $40
Christopher Robin    $31
Mission: Impossible  $28
BlacKkKlansman       $22
Operation Finale 2   $21
Alpha                $18
The Wife             $18

Going away this week are Happytime Murders, God Bless the Broken Road, Mile 22, Hotel Transylvania 3, and the long lasting The Incredibles 2

New this week are The Predator, A Simple Favor, White Boy Rick, Unbroken 2, and The Wife.

The Predator.  Is there precedent for remaking a movie that featured two actors who later went on to be state governors?  The original Predator was in the sweet spot of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s acting career (defined as between Scavenger Hunt and Last Action Hero) and had a bunch of spin offs, including a branch that somehow managed to pit the predator against the alien from the Aliens series, the best part of which was, in my opinion, the Alien Loves Predator web comic.

So there is a lot of history and The Predator is actually a continuation of the series rather than a reboot or remake.  It might as well be though since, aside from the web comic, the only bit I can recall was the original movie, and that mostly involves former Navy Seal, pro-wrestler-cum-actor, and future governor of Minnesota Jessie “The Body” Ventura wielding a backpack mini-gun that was probably the inspiration for including such weapons in every shooter from Doom forward.

Enough baggage.  How will it do?  It is a toss up between its history, being the shiny new action film, and it playing in ~3,800 theaters versus crappy reviews and it being a bit more nerd trivia than mainstream at this point.  Also, the 107 minute run time likely means they are padding out a minimal story.  Estimates put it between $25 and $35 million.  At the low point you don’t want it, while at the high end it has to be your anchor.

A Simple Favor is a murder mystery about a blogger and it stars Anna Kendrick which is all I need to know as I am now all-in on this.  Yes, it has a bit of the same tech-mystery vibe as Searching, but it gives bloggers their time in the sun.  Might be good for $14 million, if you need to get into numbers to pick this.

I recall the trailer for White Boy Rick coming up in the 25 minutes of trailers… including a red card trailer… that ran before BlackKklansman when we saw that.  There were apparently a lot of films who felt the Spike Lee demographic was vital to the success.

Anyway, it is about a kid who gets involved in the drug trade then becomes an FBI informer, all before he becomes of legal age.  Neither the story (based on true events, as they say) nor the kid has much draw for me, but the adults around him feature some big names including Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bruce Dern, and Piper Laurie.  Maybe good for $9 million if the long range forecast is accurate.

Unbroken 2, which is the sequel to the 2014 film Unbroken, and which has a longer name, but I am going to call it Unbroken 2 because it is easier.  This film follows former Olympian and freed prisoner of war Louis Zamperini through his post-war struggle and his becoming an evangelical Christian.  Short, made by a team that does faith focused films, and none of the original cast returns.  Memory of the first film might trick enough people into seeing it for it to get to $3 million.

And then there is The Wife, which actually premiered in the US a year ago, but which is out for a return run because… reasons.  I don’t know.  An art house film with a strong cast, it probably tries to make people think or something, which is never a box office draw unless you throw in enough explosions or gun shots to drown that out a bit.  But they are traveling to Stockholm to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, so gunshots, explosions, or a kidnapping are probably out.

Still, there it is, priced down with Alpha, which made $2.5 million last week, so somebody thinks it is worth about a million I guess.

With all of that my Monday Hot Takes pick ended up being 3x A Simple Favor and 5x Searching.  See, I wasn’t kidding about being all-in.  Tech thrillers for the win I hope.  Whether I will stick with that lineup through the Friday lock is another question.

Fall Movie League – New Season, Original Rules, New Scoring

I am committing to at least one more season of Fantasy Movie League.  We will see how the fall season goes before I try to predict further out into the future.

There will be some changes for the Fall 2018 season.

First, the league will be moving back to the standard rules.  Most importantly, the league will go back to locking at 9am Pacific Time on Friday morning in the hope that fewer people will forget to pick.

Likewise, the bonus structure will return for best performer and perfect pick.  I think not having the bonuses was an interesting experiment and, in small way, kept people from opening up huge leads or falling way behind based on a bad pick.  But the change wasn’t all that great and didn’t do much for people who fell too far behind as there was still no way to catch up.  Malcanis again.

Also, I was expecting the perfect pick to be different for a no bonus league a lot more often.  Instead it was the same overall most weeks.

Second, the Fall season will have two forms of seasonal scoring, the traditional cumulative box office score as well as a well as a weekly point rank system.  This is another experiment and, if it works out well, I could see adopting the new scoring method as a differentiator.

The way it will work, as was discussed in TAGN FML Chatter, is that with every week’s score lineup, players will receiver a point based on their ranking.  First place will get 10 points, second 9 points, third, 8 points, and so on with everybody below ten getting a zero.

Testing this on the Summer League scores, it didn’t change things radically.  The top three places were still the same people, the order changing on the final week showing the “catch up” potential of the system.  And it did bubble at least one person who had a few good weeks up into the top ten.  Here is what the top ten looked like with that scoring system:

  1. Wilhelm’s Abyssal Pocket Playhouse – 91
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – 88
  3. Goat Water Picture Palace – 76
  4. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – 62
  5. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – 55
  6. I HAS BAD TASTE – 49
  7. Too Orangey For Crows – 48
  8. Ben’s X-Wing Express – 43
  9. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – 38
  10. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – 35

The gap between Corr and I was such that it wasn’t decided until the week 14 scores were final.  Up through the Saturday morning estimates he seemed poised to win with that scoring system.

Compared that to the raw box office score ranking:

  1. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $1,233,260,784
  2. Wilhelm’s Abyssal Pocket Playhouse – $1,192,800,479
  3. Goat Water Picture Palace – $1,168,442,901
  4. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $1,099,917,789
  5. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – $1,068,381,300
  6. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $1,053,023,190
  7. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – $1,050,270,086
  8. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $1,046,285,672
  9. Too Orangey For Crows – $1,012,717,545
  10. Joanie’s Joint – $1,012,254,458

The system eliminates the “big win” weeks which have, in the past, seen people open up insurmountable leads or fall so far behind that they are completely out of the running.  It also does away with the flat weeks, like week fourteen, where we’re all so close in score that only those who failed to pick changed in ranking. The new scoring system makes winning the week, or at least getting into the top ten, more important.

The question will be how many points should be given out each week?  My run through last season’s scores with the 10 point scale worked in part because there were only 12-14 people playing consistently over the season, so only a few people got a zero on any given week. (Everybody got at least one zero. Nobody made the top ten every week.)

I am not sure a 10 point scale would work if we had 25 people and 15 people got no points on any given week.  If that were the case it might have to be a 15 point scale, or maybe a 20 point scale.  Or maybe not.  I am, as I said, not sure how this ought to play.  But that is why this will be an experimental scoring system this week, and it may very well get changed as the season progresses. (If you have any insight into this, please pipe up in the comments.)

Third, I am going to try and cut down on the length of the weekly league update posts.  These are starting to get into the 2,000 word zone and that really isn’t necessary.  So I will try to simplify them largely by omitting the narrative about how I ended up with my picks for the week.  I am not sure anybody reads that besides me and, honestly, I am not sure I even care that much.  My need to write stories just gets the better of me some days.

So I am going to try, starting next week, to keep things to a much more terse style, with the movies in play, which, if any, did better or worse than expected, the scores, a summary of what picks did well, the overall scores, the experimental overall scores, then a summary of what is coming up for the next week.

Also, for scores, I am only going to list out the top ten when it comes to scores every week.  That, if nothing else, will keep me from having to figure out who picked badly versus who forgot to pick but their whole lineup rolled over to the next week.

We shall see if it sticks.  Some days I am overcome by the desire to write excess narrative.

And, since this is the first post of the season, let’s get on to the movies in play.  The choices this week are:

The Nun                     $615
Crazy Rich Asians           $218
Peppermint                  $205
The Meg                     $88
Mission: Impossible         $62
Searching                   $62
Operation Finale            $52
God Bless the Broken Road   $48
Christopher Robin           $42
BlacKkKlansman              $37
Alpha                       $32
Happytime Murders           $30
Mile 22                     $26
Incredibles 2               $26
Hotel Transylvania 3        $16

We are not quite to the point where candidates for the Oscars are hitting the screens yet.  That will be at the back end of the season, since the academy can only remember movies from November and December when nomination time shows up.  We’re entering the pre-Halloween zone first.

Gone from the list this week are Kin, A.X.L., and Ya Veremos.

New this week are The Nun, Peppermint, and God Bless the Broken Road.

The Nun is a “Gothic supernatural horror” genre entry about an demonically possessed undead Romanian nun.  I think.  The copy I saw included the line “…the abbey becomes a horrific battleground between the living and the damned…” which certainly seems exciting, if not exactly what the Catholic Church really wants on screen these days… or ever.  There has been some buzz about the film, enough that even I have seen bits of it.  It is also part of a sucessful horror franchise, though I only figured that out when I looked it up.  And FML has it priced high, so it should top the charts.  But the horror genre and what succeeds and fails in it remains a mystery to me.

Peppermint is an action revenge story in the I Spit on Your Grave genre where I gather people die horribly.  But it stars Jennifer Garner, which could give the venture the gravitas it needs to succeed.  Maybe.

Then there is God Bless the Broken Road, which is based off the country western song Bless the Broken Road.  I mean sure, films have been inspired by flimsier themes than a song.  Hell, The Gambler ended up launching a five movie series for Kenny Rogers, and most of us only remember the chorus to the damn song.  But this tale of a window and her daughter getting caught up with a race car driver isn’t as popular as The Gambler, doesn’t have any big names, isn’t exactly trending, and the only review I have seen so far puts it below Happytime Murders.  Ouch.

My Monday Hot Takes league pick was 4x CRA and 4x Alpha, mostly because it spends an even $1000.

So there it is.  The league is back to locking on Friday at 9am Pacific Time, which is 16:00 UTC, so you have time to do some research and make your picks.

If you want to join the league I will put a link in the comments after this posts.

Summer Movie League – With a Whimper

And so it goes, week fourteen, the final week of our summer Fantasy Movie League is done.

And with that we have but to tally up the scores and declare the winner.  The choices for the final week were:

Crazy Rich Asians     $460
The Meg               $204
Mission: Impossible   $143
Operation Finale      $133
Christopher Robin     $116
Searching             $111
Happytime Murders     $108
Alpha                 $97
BlacKkKlansman        $92
Mile 22               $89
Kin                   $82
Incredibles 2         $62
Ya Veremos            $56
Hotel Transylvania 3  $49
A.X.L.                $44

And none of them really shook expectations, save for The Incredibles 2, which turned out to be the best performer for the week.  To answer last week’s question, I guess it is kids who go to see movies on Labor Day.  Or maybe not.  CRA still topped the box office.

I vacillated on picks over the course of the week.  On Monday I was in with 4x The Meg and 4x A.X.L. as my pick.  Come Friday morning I was spooked by some optimistic predictions and jumped on 7x Operation Finale and 1x The Incredibles 2.

But on Thursday morning my mind was set on 3x The Meg, 2x Alpha, and 3x The Incredibles 2.

Summer Movie League – My Week Fourteen Picks

As it turns out, even with no bonuses in the TAGN league, that was my best scoring pick.  It also wasn’t a bad pick overall.

The perfect pick for the league was a bit better, but not a ton better.  Three screens of The Meg appeared to be the best anchor when it came down to it.

Summer Movie League – Week Fourteen Perfect Pick

The thing is, this was a week without a huge winning or losing pick.  Everybody who picked this week ended up within a $11 million band of choices, which wasn’t enough to dislodge many people for their spots in the ranking.  The scores among those who were in for the final week looked like this:

  1. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – $68,033,788
  2. Wilhelm’s Abyssal Pocket Playhouse – $67,688,509
  3. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $65,327,962
  4. Too Orangey For Crows – $61,869,121
  5. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – $61,846,280
  6. Goat Water Picture Palace – $59,840,549
  7. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $59,840,549
  8. Joanie’s Joint – $59,840,549
  9. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $59,840,549
  10. grannanj’s Cineplex – $58,819,921
  11. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $57,381,443

Only eleven people picked this week.  Vigo led the pack anchored on The Meg, while I was just behind with the same anchor but different filler.  Then Ben with a heavy bet on Mission Impossible, Bhagpuss with CRA as his anchor, and Miniature with and anchor on The Meg and Mission Impossible.

After that there was everybody who went with seven screens of Operation Finale, less Grannanj, who had a CRA anchored lineup.  That left the final scores for the season looking like this:

  1. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $1,233,260,784
  2. Wilhelm’s Abyssal Pocket Playhouse – $1,192,800,479
  3. Goat Water Picture Palace – $1,168,442,901
  4. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $1,099,917,789
  5. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – $1,068,381,300
  6. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $1,053,023,190
  7. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – $1,050,270,086
  8. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $1,046,285,672
  9. Too Orangey For Crows – $1,012,717,545
  10. Joanie’s Joint – $1,012,254,458
  11. grannanj’s Cineplex – $1,003,319,433
  12. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $996,001,692
  13. I HAS BAD TASTE – $890,174,972
  14. Skar’s Movies and Meat Pies – $743,497,331

The narrow gap between first and last this week meant not much change, with the first eight spots a duplicate of last week.  Bhagpuss snuck back into the top ten by virtue of acing out Joanie by a hair and due to Po being out of town and not picking.

So there it is, the final score.  Corr takes the crown for the summer season!

And that is it for the summer blockbuster season.  As usual, it starts big but loses steam before Labor Day.  Look for another post in a bit about the updates for the Fall season.  Yes, there will be a Fall season.