Category Archives: Movies

FML – Moving from Winter to Spring

This week saw the final round of the Winter/Awards season for Fantasy Movie League.

While I am still holding out for the summer blockbuster season before I return to focusing on the league as a regular feature here, if you wanted to join in for a practice season now would be a good time.  I will put a link in the comments after this post goes live.  The links expire, so I don’t want to put it in the post in advance.

As for the season just passed, here were the final top ten scores.

  1. Goat Water Picture Palace – $964,413,237
  2. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $941,196,773
  3. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – $861,126,227
  4. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $786,513,610
  5. Too Orangey For Crows – $784,396,889
  6. Joanie’s Joint – $739,435,908
  7. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $707,973,439
  8. grannanj’s Cineplex – $696,783,637
  9. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – $682,821,329
  10. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – $621,049,944

That is the same people in the top three slots as my mid-season summary, though the final positions changed a bit.

Goat and I were neck and neck, with me behind by a mere $600K, at the end of week ten.  But then I made bad picks on the last two weeks.  Goat and SynCaine both went with the Alita lineup in week 11 and How to Train Your Dragon plus Happy Death Day 2U lineup in week 12 that were both runaway picks, weeks where if you don’t get those you fall way behind.  That lifted Goat and SynCaine well past my score.

That I was even in contention was probably a bigger surprise.  I didn’t win a single week, while SynCaine and Goat won 10 of the 12 weeks combined. I just didn’t make a really bad pick until the end.

And then there is the alternative scoring methodology which, as a reminder, hands out a score to the top ten finishers each week, with first place getting 10 points, second getting 9 points, and so on down the line, which is an attempt to remove the scoring volatility that some weeks show when the FML team is off in their pricing.

  1. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – 96
  2. Goat Water Picture Palace – 85
  3. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – 84
  4. Too Orangey For Crows – 69
  5. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – 65
  6. Joanie’s Joint – 55
  7. Ben’s X-Wing Express – 48
  8. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – 44
  9. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – 41
  10. grannanj’s Cineplex – 37

In that scoring SynCaine came out in first place, well ahead of Goat in second and myself in third.

While SynCaine only won 4 weeks to Goat’s 6, SynCaine also never fell out of the top ten on any week while Goat did so twice.  Despite never winning a week I held on to third place by consistently staying in the top five finishers every week, save for the final two, where I placed sixth.

And so it goes, another season down.

The Spring season will be a long one, running 14 weeks, ending after the US Memorial Day weekend. That seems late, and puts the start of the Summer Blockbuster season out until the first week of June.

If I had been paying closer attention I could have changed the duration of the Spring season for the TAGN league.  However, now that the season has started, we’re stuck with 14 weeks.  No changing after a season goes live.

I am thinking about possibly changing the Summer season.  I could cut it up into two or three shorter seasons; maybe two six week seasons (or a six and a seven) or three four week seasons (or two fours and a five to line things up).  That would let people come and go on vacation without them messing up a whole season as well as stopping that inevitable second half drag where anybody who started off with a couple of bad weeks feels they are totally out of contention.

Anyway, feedback on that idea is welcome.

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.

Honest Trailers does Mary Poppins

With the advent of Mary Poppins Returns, it seemed inevitable that Cinema Sins and Honest Trailers would have a go at the original Mary Poppins.  And, of course, they did, with the Honest Trailers version being quite a gem.

And there is, of course, the making of commentary video about putting that together.

It was a risk showing this to my wife, since Mary Poppins is one of her very favorite childhood films. (Mary Poppins never did much for me, I was more about Winnie the Pooh and The Love Bug when I was young.)  But she laughed at this, so I figure it isn’t sacrilege to share it.  The Cinema Sins video though, I’ll keep that to myself.

Fall Movie League – The Selection of Hannah Grace

Here we are, the last week of our Fall Fantasy Movie League is done, and all that is left really is a bit of narrative and a totaling up of the final scores.

For the final week there were no big new films to rock the boat.  The anchor choices were pretty much the same as week twelve.  Here was the list:

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

As I often do, I focused a lot on the anchor and left the filler aside.

After swapping back and forth over the course of the week I settled on Ralph for my main anchor.  I was with him on Monday 1x Ralph, 1x Creed II, 1x Bohemian Rhapsody, and 5x The Favorite.

Later in the week I was less sure and experimenting, ending up with 1x Ralph and 7x Widows.

I wish I could say that was a well thought out pick, but in reality it was something I was tinkering with and copied over to think about at some point on Thursday.  And then I forgot about it until about an hour after the leagues all locked and I was stuck with that.

I did think that Widows could possibly have a shot at best performer, though I honestly should have kept to six screens of it given how much of my budget was left over.  And Widows did end up as the second best price performer, but a silver medal counts for naught in the scores.

Instead, come the Saturday morning estimates The Possession of Hannah Grace was way up the charts relative to its FML pricing.  While the long range tracking forecast it around $3 million, it was headed past $6 million.

I guess I am not the only one who has trouble gauging the horror genre during the holiday season.

The film did not sag at all come the Sunday estimates, were its earnings per film buck was double Widows.  So unless you had multiple screens of Hannah Grace you were not going to do very well on the final week.  The scores for the week ended up like this:

  1. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $89,976,297
  2. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $83,985,996
  3. Goat Water Picture Palace – $81,370,880
  4. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $79,691,857
  5. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $56,857,828
  6. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – $56,389,016
  7. Joanie’s Joint – $55,913,962
  8. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $55,497,987
  9. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – $55,497,987
  10. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – $55,437,311
  11. I HAS BAD TASTE – $55,097,185
  12. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $55,029,759
  13. Too Orangey For Crows – $54,645,486
  14. grannanj’s Cineplex – $54,536,607
  15. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics – $54,536,607
  16. Skar’s Movies and Meat Pies – $54,142,730

Corr, Ben, Goat and SynCaine all bet on Hannah Grace.  Corr even got the perfect pick, which was 1x The Grinch, 1x Creed II, and 6x Hannah Grace.

Between them and the rest of the pack was more than a $20 million gap.  The gap between the top and bottom of the remaining twelve people who played… full score list here on the final week… was less than $3 million.  A tight race amongst those who eschewed Hannah Grace.

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

  1. Goat Water Picture Palace – $1,002,236,972
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $994,216,623
  3. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $970,491,788
  4. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – $969,867,323
  5. Too Orangey For Crows – $949,946,148
  6. I HAS BAD TASTE – $939,059,282
  7. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $920,250,209
  8. grannanj’s Cineplex – $915,931,935
  9. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $900,117,327
  10. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $899,596,418
  11. Joanie’s Joint – $871,223,508
  12. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics – $857,227,598
  13. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $819,287,831
  14. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – $792,913,965
  15. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – $782,972,039
  16. Skar’s Movies and Meat Pies – $559,786,290

Goat going with Hannah Grace was enough for them to hold onto first place.  Corr’s perfect pick jumped him over me and into second place by a fair margin.  The surprise was Ben, who was off to a slow start the season, but who rallied in the last few weeks and managed to push me into fourth place by a little more that $600K.

And on the alternate scoring front, Corr managed to elude the one scenario that would deny him first place.

  1. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – 81
  2. Goat Water Picture Palace – 69
  3. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – 62
  4. Ben’s X-Wing Express – 58
  5. Too Orangey For Crows – 57
  6. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – 48
  7. I HAS BAD TASTE – 47
  8. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – 43
  9. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – 42
  10. grannanj’s Cineplex – 38
  11. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – 38
  12. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – 38
  13. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics – 34
  14. Joanie’s Joint – 28
  15. Skar’s Movies and Meat Pies – 17
  16. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – 15

Corr took first and Goat second, with me in third.  Ben continued his climb up the list, but I was able to hold him off here, so he ended up in fourth place.

As for scoring this, everybody managed to make it into the top ten at least three times.  Only Corr managed to make it there every week of the season.  While the end ranking wasn’t radically different that the traditional cumulative scores, it was different.  It could also be much more volatile from week to week.  However, no scoring system that accumulates over thirteen weeks is going to let you “catch up” at the end, so the top three were near the top during the latter half of the season.

Congrats to Goat and Corr, winners of the two different scoring systems.

Here is where usually write about what films are coming up this week.  However, as I noted last week, I am taking a break from this until the summer blockbuster season rolls around again.  Still, I am half tempted just to do a “what’s new at the movies” post every Wednesday.  After a year and a half of posts just about every week about FML, movies on Wednesday is almost a thing.

Unfortunately, nothing big is hitting this week for FML.  In fact, there isn’t much compelling coming up for the whole Winter season.  At least not for me.  My wife is excited for Mary Poppins Returns, the original being one of her favorite movies from childhood.  But when Mary Poppins comes up I start in with whether or not anybody would know who Julie Andrews even was if she hadn’t done Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music so early in her career.

Anyway, as I said, the league will stay up.  If you have your own league you want me to join I’m game.  I’ll be back some the summer with more FML posts.  I do wonder what I will post on Wednesday now.

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.

Fall Movie League – Fantastic Grinches and Where to Find Them

Week eleven is now in the books for our Fall Fantasy Movie League.

The lineup for week eleven looked like this:

Fantastic Beasts 2            $699
The Grinch                    $387
Bohemian Rhapsody             $203
Instant Family                $180
Widows                        $167
A Star is Born                $55
The Nutcracker                $54
Overlord                      $49
Nobody's Fool                 $36
The Girl in the Spider's Web  $36
Venom                         $27
Boy Erased                    $19
Halloween                     $14
The Hate U Give               $12
Can You Ever Forgive Me?      $12

The big dog on that list was Fantastic Beasts 2, the latest edition of J.K. Rowling’s attempt to get by without Harry Potter in what one might be tempted to call the “Harry Potter Cinematic Universe.”  The HPCU.  Let’s just run with that.

The original Fantastic Beasts did $74 million its first weekend out back in 2016, which would have been great for any normal movie, but which feels low against the core set of Harry Potter films.  The first did $90 million, unadjusted for inflation, its first weekend out.

So that set the bar for Fantastic Beasts 2 which, among other things, was getting some mediocre reviews.  That set me against the title as the week wore on.  I was with it on Monday, but by Wednesday I was elsewhere.

Elsewhere brought me to Instant Family.  Like horror films, the Mark Wahlberg genre is one I tend to discount to my regret.  I have been beaten by lineups anchored on his films many times, but I keep betting against him.  So this week I latched onto him, thinking he might be the key, grabbing five screens of Instant Family as my anchor.

But as the week wore on my resolve faded.  Forecasts did not buoy my optimism and on Friday morning, when I was still holding onto Instant Family across most of my leagues, the preview results rolled in and got me to abandon ship.  Instant Family fell behind the less expensive Widows (not Windows!), sinking my hope for the pick.

Meanwhile, preview results for Fantastic Beasts 2 seemed pretty strong.  It looked like it would be a solid enough first place run as to possibly secure the best performer slot as well.  So, at the last minute, I jumped to a lineup anchored on that, ending up with 1x Fantastic Beasts 2, 5x A Star is Born, 1x Halloween, and 1x That Hate U Give.

I wasn’t alone in that anchor, as 12 out of 15 people who picked for week eleven went with Fantastic Beasts 2 in that slot.  The exceptions were SynCaine and Ben, who opted for The Grinch, and Goat, who was in for Instant Family.

And while the estimates showed that Fantastic Beasts 2 wasn’t a bad anchor, The Grinch road in on the impending holiday spirit to take the best performer spot, making it the anchor to have.

That led to the weekly scores shaking out as:

  1. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $98,026,745
  2. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $96,183,956
  3. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $85,223,784
  4. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – $85,110,655
  5. grannanj’s Cineplex – $84,939,807
  6. Joanie’s Joint – $84,857,105
  7. Too Orangey For Crows – $84,832,552
  8. I HAS BAD TASTE – $84,654,264
  9. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics – $84,610,411
  10. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $84,610,411

As noted, SynCaine and Ben were on the Grinch train this week, while everybody else in the top ten was anchored on Fantastic Beasts 2, with mostly minor variations in filler picks, leading to a pretty tight pack.

The full season scores so far:

  1. Goat Water Picture Palace – $826,594,162
  2. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – $820,473,669
  3. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $805,034,609
  4. Too Orangey For Crows – $797,427,212
  5. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $787,031,803
  6. I HAS BAD TASTE – $784,756,380
  7. grannanj’s Cineplex – $763,250,473
  8. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics – $754,047,245
  9. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $750,243,901
  10. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $748,414,346

The scoring was too close for much change in the top ten.  Ben made the biggest move with his pick, but the list was mostly static.

The alternate scoring looking like:

  1. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – 63
  2. Goat Water Picture Palace – 58
  3. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – 56
  4. Too Orangey For Crows – 52
  5. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – 41
  6. I HAS BAD TASTE – 40
  7. Ben’s X-Wing Express – 39
  8. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – 37
  9. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – 35
  10. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – 35

A strong showing by Corr put him at the top of that list, while Goat failing to make the top ten wasn’t quite enough to let me pass.  Ben moved from 10th to 7th spot while SynCaine jumped onto the list and into 8th position based on his ten point finish, demonstrating the volatility of this scoring method.  With only two weeks left anybody twenty points or more out of first isn’t going to be able to win, but the top four spots are all very much in contention.

And so that wraps up week eleven.  For week twelve the options are:

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

Falling off the list for week twelve were Venom, Halloween, The Girl in the Spider’s Web , The Hate U Give, and Can You Ever Forgive Me?.

Replacing them are Ralph Breaks the Inernet, Creed II, Robin Hood, Green Book, and The Front Runner.

It is also Thanksgiving this week in the US, which means a full week off for many and a four day weekend for most, save for the government, banks (who, by law, cannot be closed four days in a row), and those poor souls who must work retail on the busiest shopping day of the year.  With kids on the loose and parents looking to distract them, this has all the makings of a pretty big box office weekend.  The question is, who will benefit the most.

First on the list of new titles is Ralph Breaks the Internet, the sequel to 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph.  On the one hand, this looks like a strong entry from Disney Animation Studios on a week where films aimed at kids will likely make bank.

On the downside, it does face some competition.  The Grinch is still out there farming the holiday season.  Fantastic Beasts 2 also lurks, waiting to pull away older kids and Harry Potter fans.  And, frankly, Wreck-It Ralph wasn’t exactly Pixar popular, so you have to ask how much pull a sequel has even on a potential perfect storm weekend.  Long range forecasts had it at about $52 million, but Disney is calling it in the mid $60 million range.  However, Disney might be talking about a five day holiday total, so take what you will from that.

Next in line is Creed II… or, if you prefer, something like Rocky VIII I think.  Rocky Balboa is back training Adonis Creed, son of champion Apollo Creed of past fame in the series, to… probably punch a guy a lot I am going to guess, but only after training a lot to punch a guy and having some sort of crises of confidence or something.  That seems about right.

I mean, we’re getting this because Creed was good, but it still won’t be Raging Bull.  And while the setup, the son of Apollo Creed fighting the son of the man who killed him in an exhibition fight has lots of back story to it, I’m a bit worn out on all that.  Let me just bop along to Eye of the Tiger when it comes on the oldies station in peace.  Long range forecasts had it at about $30 million last I checked, and it is a the only film about punching on the bill this week.  Could be worth it.

And then it is time to get stuck into another remake of Robin Hood.  The public domain is jam packed with stories, but we’re going back to Sherwood Forest to spit on Errol Flynn’s grave or something.  I mean just go look at the list of films and TV series based off of the character over on Wikipedia.  This is like the seventh production this decade, and there are at least three more in development.

So, in a world where pretty much everybody in Hollywood has been attached in some way to a production of Robin Hood, including a Disney animated version, what is going to set this apart from the pack?  Well, we get the guy who was Eggsy in The Kingsmen as the titular character, with Jamie Foxx as his mentor.  Jamie Foxx is going to steal the show harder than Morgan Freeman did when paired up with Kevin Costner in yet another Robin Hood film from the past.

Anyway, my derision aside, the long range forecasts have this at about $9 million, and it would feel lucky to get that if I had my way, something MetaCritic seems to confirm, give its current 33% score.  Ouch!

Next up is Green Book, the story of an Italian American bouncer who becomes the driver for a Jamaican pianist for his tour of the deep south during the turbulent 1960s.  The film takes its title from The Negro Motorists Green Book, a one time guide to safe travel for blacks in an America where segregation and Jim Crow laws were an overt part of every day life.  Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen reportedly give life to this comedy drama.  The film opened last week, so no preview dollars, but is expanding this week.  Forecast estimates are between $5 and $6 million.

Finally there The Front Runner, a bio-pic about Gary Hart’s 1988 presidential run, with Hugh Jackman in the role of the candidate.  I think the 1984 run would have been more fun, bringing back the Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?” commercial and all that, but you go with what you’re given I guess.  This should seem almost charming and innocent, a story about a presidential candidate’s campaign being derailed by the fact that he had an affair given the laundry list of affairs the current sitting president has to his credit.

Still, Hugh Jackman ought to be good and I am old enough to remember the whole thing… sort of… it was still a while ago.  I had to look up the name of the boat on which Hart and Donna Rice were alleged to have met.  I was thinking Risky Business, but it was Monkey Business.  Either would have worked though.  as with Green Book, The Front Runner has already been out a week and is expanding to about 500 screens this week.  That is about half of what Green Book is getting and there is no forecast, so call it $2 to $3 million on a guess?

So that is week twelve, and it is a somewhat eclectic mix.  Ralph and The Grinch are fighting over the kids market, which will be big this weekend, while Fantastic Beasts 2 tries to pull teens and young adults it way.  Creed II is there for the adult males, while A Star is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody are still around for the musically inclined.  Green Book and The Front Runner can serve the art theater crowd, Overlord is still there for zombie horror fans, Widows, despite my flubbing the title last week, turns out to be an interesting female led crime drama, Boy Erased confronts gay conversion therapy, Robin Hood is out there for whoever hasn’t already seen any one of the likely better versions of the tale (including the Disney animated version and the Mel Brooks parody), Nobody’s Fool is still out there for Tyler Perry fans, and Instant Family is on site for those who go to see Marky Mark films I guess.

Oh, and be wary of forecasts.  Because of the holiday week many of them are quoting five day numbers rather than three day numbers for the weekend.  And movies this week are officially releasing today… I think, some sources say that… so there are no preview dollars involved.  Only Friday, Saturday, and Sunday count.

So after all that, what to pick?

My Monday Hot Takes league picks tried to cover all bases with 2x Fantastic Beasts 2, 1x Bohemian Rhapsody, 1x A Star is Born, 1x The Nutcracker, 2x Overlord, and 1x Nobody’s Fool, but I will be watching how things play out on Thursday night before committing to my final Friday morning pick.

Fall Movie League – Overlord or be Overlorded

Week ten of our Fall Fantasy Movie League is in the past as we head straight into the teeth of the holiday season in the US.

For week ten the lineup looked like this:

The Grinch                   $800
Bohemian Rhapsody            $372
The Girl in the Spider's Web $150
The Nutcracker               $126
Overlord                     $107
A Star is Born               $100
Nobody's Fool                $80
Venom                        $65
Halloween                    $59
Thugs of Hindostan           $40
Goosebumps 2                 $22
The Hate U Give              $25
Smallfoot                    $26
Hunter Killer                $25
Can You Ever Forgive Me?     $21

The Grinch was pretty much a dead-on lock to lead the three day box office.  The question was whether it would lead the pack by enough to justify the $800 price, or if some combo of cheaper titles would be better suited the task.

As I tend to do, I got fixated on the anchor and ignore the filler aspect of my lineup.  I played with variations of Bohemian Rhapsody, The Girl in the Spider’s Web, and The Nutcracker, but none of those played out in my simulations well enough to be worth the effort.

So by Friday morning I was still sitting on my Monday Hot Takes pick of 1x The Grinch, 1x Venom, 1x The Hate U Give, and 4x Goosebumps 2.  I wasn’t in love with that pick, but I couldn’t come up with a list.

In chat, less than an hour before the leagues locked, Corr and Ben were talking about going all in with 8x Overlord on the assumption that it would be best performer for the week.  That was interesting, but left a lot of budget on the table, Overlord not being priced high enough to be an anchor pick.

I played around with a lineup anchored on Bohemian Rhapsody, with 5x Overlord, and two more filler, and even left that lineup in the Seasonal Showdown league, where I often leave my experiments just to see how they play out.  If only I had copied that to all my other leagues.

But I did not.  On Saturday, when The Hate U Give looked to be up for best performer, it wasn’t a big deal.  But on Sunday Overlord took that spot and kept it through the final numbers, with the perfect pick being Bohemian Rhapsody, with 5x Overlord, 1x Venom, and 1x The Hate U Give.

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

  1. Goat Water Picture Palace – $104,178,849
  2. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics – $98,635,588
  3. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $97,616,864
  4. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $97,616,864
  5. grannanj’s Cineplex – $94,467,870
  6. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – $82,810,191
  7. Too Orangey For Crows – $82,360,647
  8. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $81,142,765
  9. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $81,105,889
  10. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $80,030,515

Goat got the perfect pick this week, while Pak was not too far behind with a lineup that had Smallfoot rather than The Hate U Give.  Corr and Ben took the next two spots with their all-in Overlord picks.

I did not make the top ten cut again this week, sitting at 11th place about two million behind Darren.

That left the overall season scores looking like this:

  1. Goat Water Picture Palace – $747,092,730
  2. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – $735,363,014
  3. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $719,810,825
  4. Too Orangey For Crows – $712,594,660
  5. I HAS BAD TASTE – $700,102,116
  6. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $690,847,847
  7. grannanj’s Cineplex – $678,310,666
  8. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics – $669,436,834
  9. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $668,739,930
  10. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $665,921,504

Goat’s strong finish jumped him past me into first place by $12 million.

The alternate scoring scheme showed its volatility this week though.

  1. Goat Water Picture Palace – 58
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex- 55
  3. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – 49
  4. Too Orangey For Crows – 48
  5. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – 41
  6. I HAS BAD TASTE – 37
  7. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – 35
  8. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – 35
  9. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics – 32
  10. Ben’s X-Wing Express – 30

Not getting anything for the alternate scoring this week, Goat and Corr passed me while Bhagpuss caught right up.  Ben and Pak also climbed into the top ten, knocking Cyanbane (28 points) and SynCaine (27 points) into into 11th and 12th spots respectively.

So there it stands, with three weeks left to go it is still an open fight for first place with both scoring schemes.

That leads us to week eleven, where the choices will be:

Fantastic Beasts 2            $699
The Grinch                    $387
Bohemian Rhapsody             $203
Instant Family                $180
Widows                       $167
A Star is Born                $55
The Nutcracker                $54
Overlord                      $49
Nobody's Fool                 $36
The Girl in the Spider's Web  $36
Venom                         $27
Boy Erased                    $19
Halloween                     $14
The Hate U Give               $12
Can You Ever Forgive Me?      $12

Dropping off the list this week are Smallfoot, Goosebumps 2 , Hunter Killer, and Thugs of Hindostan.

Replacing them are Fantastic Beasts 2, Instant Family, Window, and Boy Erased.

Fantastic Beasts 2, or Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald to get out the full name… at least they dropped the “and Where to Find Them” part… is the big deal this week.  Harry Potter movies apparently do pretty well, even without Harry Potter around, though the Harry Potter movies based on actual books in our world are still significantly more popular than Harry Potter movies based on fictional books mentioned in passing within the actual books.

Or something.

It will still make its money back, but likely won’t be a crazy box office.  The first Fantastic Beasts did $74 million its opening weekend and long range forecasts have the sequel hitting $70 million.  I don’t see any reason to dispute that.  It will be in a theater near you and everybody you know.

Instant Family.  It stars Mark Wahlberg.  I’m not saying Marky Mark hasn’t done some good work, but he has also signed on for more than his share of disappointing productions and cringe worthy cardboard cut-out characters.  Also I think the premise of the film was lifted directly from 90s sitcom Horsin’ Around, making it the second rip-off of the show after Mr. Peanutbutter’s House.  It is currently pegged at $18 million for the weekend.  We shall see.

Windows was a tough one.  Googling “Windows” gets you Microsoft, while “Windows film” gets you tinting options for your home and car.  There is no Wikipedia article on it yet, so I had to go to the IMDB… and even that steered me to a 1950’s TV series, a 1980’s movie, and the 2014 film Open Windows before I could finally pin it down.  Not an auspicious sign.

Eventually though I found it, though I am still not sure I get what the movie is about.  But it does have a few big names in it like Liam Neeson, Viola Davis, Robert Duvall, and Colin Farrell.  The forecast for it currently stands at about $16 million, putting it close to Instant Family.

Addendum: As was pointed out in the comments, the movie is actually Widows, so just pretend I didn’t write all that and never speak of it again.

And finally there is Boy Erased, which is coming up on its third week in theaters, but which is getting an expansion of venues I assume.  It is the story of Baptist parents sending their son to gay conversion therapy.   I haven’t seen a forecast for it yet, but given its pricing it would seem to be set for around $2 million maybe.

So there we go.

For the Monday Hot Takes League the Cineplex Builder is giving me 1x Fantastic Beasts, 1x Bohemian Rhapsody, 1x Nobody’s Fool, 1x Halloween, and 4x The Hate U Give.  But given how it fared for me last week, I will be doing more research before I commit for Friday.