Category Archives: Movies

Godzilla vs Kong

The week before last we took a short break from our series binge watching to have a movie night.  I declared a movie night and my wife brought home Red Vines and popcorn from the store and I cooked up some hot dogs so that we could simulate something of a theater experience.

The reason for this was the premiere of Godzilla vs Kong which, in addition to landing in theaters, was available on HBO Max so we could watch it from the comfort of our own couch, avoiding the ongoing pandemic and all that.

The Aqua/Red tone thing keeps showing up in the film

I am not a huge fan of such movies, though I am pretty sure I saw all of the early Godzilla movies, they being something of a staple of Sunday afternoon television for the low budget UHF channels in the area back when I was a kid.  But I was okay with the 2014 remake of Godzilla and Kong: Skull Island was another good Friday night movie at our house, complete with Samuel L. Jackson.  And I have tried to make Friday night movies a thing around our house, favoring mindless action and explosions and such, so the premiere of Godzilla vs Kong seemed like the right moment to revive this idea.

Let me just say up front that this is a dumb movie and trying to think too hard or force logic on it is a futile effort.

But that aside, the whole thing spectacular in a very raw and visceral way.  There is a story there… and a too complex by half story at that… but the film makes no bones as to what it is about.  Godzilla shows up and wrecks some of Florida while the team watching over Kong declares that the two will end up fighting in less than ten minutes.

And fight they do.  This is what the film is about.  Giant monsters fighting and smashing stuff.  They fight at sea, with Kong and Godzilla duking it out on the deck of an aircraft carrier.

Kong lands a solid punch

Kong fights stuff in the secret center of the earth, where giant monsters seem to live, with perhaps the best grab and smash routine since Hulk smashed Loki repeatedly in one of the MCU films.  Then, after Kong somehow jumps through a hole Godzilla burned into the center of the Earth… don’t think, just roll with it… Kong and Godzilla go at it again, destroying most of Hong Kong as they fight in the middle of the city.

See, lit in that aqua/red lighting yet again

And, of course, there is an evil corporation involved who have built their own Pacific Rim-esque Jaeger which has to get into the mix for the finale.

When it was over my wife was shaking her head at just how dumb the whole movie was, which I had to admit was true, but my own reaction was that I wish I had seen it on a big screen in a theater.  This is the sort of mindless spectacle that was made for a huge screen in a dark room full of strangers.

Godzilla vs Kong delivered exactly what I expected, with the effects dialed up to eleven.

And, because it appeared on HBO Max with the premiere, Honest Trailers already has their video about it up and ready.

It contains spoilers, but if you’re not going to watch the film anyway, this will dig into its essentially silliness.

Farewell Commander Bond

I woke up this morning to the news that Sean Connery had passed away.

Sean Connery had a long career in film. He was well paid and played many roles over the years.  But for all of his other work, both excellent and regrettable, he will forever be associated with James Bond.

About to say his famous intro, ‘Bond, James Bond’ for the first time in Dr. No

In the 60s he helped cement the James Bond franchise.  By the third film, Goldfinger, the style and required tropes, from the opening, to the required plot points, to the nature of the villains, of any James Bond film were set in stone.  And with that he became the benchmark against which any future actor taking on the role would be measured.

He played Bond five times in the 60s in Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, You Only Live Twice, and Thunderball.  He came back again in 1971 in Diamonds are Forever after replacement George Lazenby declined to play the role again, lest he be typecast, and once Cubby Broccoli threw enough money at him.

And then he returned once more to the role in Never Say Never Again, a remake of Thunderball, and outside of whatever continuity the EON produced Bond films have.  So that is seven total appearances as the character, for which, by the end, he was paid more than most actors will ever see in their lifetime.

But the appeal of Sean Connery was him being Sean Connery.  The role might have been James Bond, but he made it his.

There are actors who get lost in roles, who become different people with different scripts.  Actors like Daniel Day Lewis or Meryl Streep.  They can morph into what the script needs them to be.

With Sean Connery you got what you got, a tall handsome Scotsman with an oft imitated accent and a brash, confident demeanor.  The character was molded to fit him.  A Soviet submarine commander, Indiana Jones’ father, a Kipling hero, a Irish Chicago cop, a Franciscan friar, or a post-apocalyptic “brutal,” all of those roles ended up on him like so many tailored suits.  They clothed him, sometimes quite well, but did not change what you were getting.

While he had been retired from acting for almost two decades, he still casts a long shadow, especially for anybody taking on the role of James Bond.  He leaves behind a legacy on the big screen that will endure.

Fantasy Movie League Paused for Now

Two weeks into the spring Fantasy Movie League season, the whole thing is being suspended.

I suggested in my Awards Season wrap up that there might be issues come the spring because of the Coronavirus.   Me of two weeks ago was somewhat more optimistic than me of today, sitting at home under a three week long “shelter in place order” that covers most of the SF Bay Area.

Because of FML I have a few movie relates feeds in my reader, and come Monday there was a slow drum beat of bad news.  People were rightly afraid of somebody sneezing in a crowded theater, so the industry reported a 20 year low number for the past weekend box office despite having sent out reassuring press releases about sanitizing venues and spacing out patrons to maintain social distancing.

It also seemed clear that local governments might start closing non-essential business, especially those that packed groups of people into confined spaces for extended periods of time.

So the large chains began to announce they were temporarily closing all their venues.  Regal, Landmark, Alamo Drafhouse, and finally AMC all announced they were going to remain closed for at least a few weeks.  At last report it is estimated that 4,000 theaters are shut down across the country, about 80% of the national total.

And without that, there isn’t much of a box office to play against, so late Monday FML announced that the spring season was going to be paused.  The text of the announcement, since I think you need an account to get to that link:

Temporarily Pausing Fantasy Movie League
@fmlqa · FML Quality Assurance
Mar 16, 2020, 4:20pm PDT

Dear FML Community,

Like you, we have been monitoring the changes being put into place to slow down the spread of COVID-19. Given the impact on the movie industry, including changes in premiere dates and movie theater closures, we’re anticipating challenges in being able to provide you with up-to-date box office information in the coming weeks. We also want to make sure we’re doing everything in our power to help our employees stay healthy and safe.

Due to this, we have come to the difficult decision to temporarily pause Fantasy Movie League.

You’ll be able to see the final results for the weekend of March 13-15, and your standings within your leagues will update based on that. That standing will remain until we resume. We don’t know quite yet when we will be able to start up again, but we will let you know as soon as we do.

Thank you for being part of the FML community. During this hiatus, we encourage you to stay connected with others through Chatter and on noovie.com.

Stay safe,
The FML Team

Another sign of the growing crisis here.  And it isn’t clear when things will return to normal or if there will be a new normal.

Winter 2020 FML Season Results

The Winter, or Awards, Fantasy Movie League season wrapped up this past weekend.

At one point, early on in the season, I was considering a mid-point summary as it looked like another interesting contest.  And then the week seven results came in.  I was holding off until then because that put us past the halfway mark.  But it was also the week that the race pretty much ended.

It was the weekend that Bad Boys For Life opened and the FML crew missed the mark on valuation.  If you did not go with two screens of it for your anchor you were likely out of the running for the season.  Bhagpuss and I were on the Bad Boys bandwagon, but everybody else gave it a pass.  That opened up a huge gap between second and third place that nobody was able to overcome.

The week seven results

That was enough to keep me in second place for the rest of the run despite my doing a less than stellar job on my picks.  I rarely ever forget to pick.  I tend to go in on my phone and make a default, first gut pick on Monday evening so I have something, but more often than not I forgot to go back and revise that first pick.

Bhagpuss, on the other hand, was quite the masterful movie picker.  While week seven helped him, he was in no danger from me for most of the season, the gap between us having become insurmountable not too far into the season.  The top five overall scores ended up looking liked this:

  1. Too Orangey For Crows – $1,142,690,223
  2. Wilhelm’s Qeynosian Kinetoscope – $1,052,491,511
  3. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $975,743,041
  4. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $960,290,604
  5. Joanie’s Joint – $925,665,488

Bhagpuss was solidly in first place, and I solidly in second.  However, that does not really tell the tale of the season.  You need the alternate scoring for that.

As with last season, I awarded points to the top five finishers, with first place getting 5 points, second place 4 points, and so on.  That scoring ended up looking like:

  1. Too Orangey For Crows – 49
  2. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – 28
  3. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – 28
  4. Wilhelm’s Qeynosian Kinetoscope – 25
  5. grannanj’s Cineplex – 25

That score is the result of Bhagpuss coming in first place five weeks, and second place an additional four, out of thirteen of the weeks.  That will keep you well ahead in the alternate scoring.

Meanwhile, my second place in the total score was largely supported by my picking Bad Boys as my anchor in week seven.  Otherwise I did merely a passable job of picking, winning only one week and coming in second only twice.

And so it goes.  Congrats to Bhagpuss for his decisive win!

This week sees the start of the Spring 2020 FML season, which also sees the debut of a new Pixar title, Onward.  At this end of the week it seems like a mistake to anchor on anything besides that.

I will keep the league running.  I am not sure how much I will cover the season, but maybe the mood will strike me.  The Coronavirus might make this an odd run.  I don’t think people have stopped going out to the movies quite yet… they certainly were keen to mob stores this past weekend, as they wiped out supplies of toilet paper, paper towels, soup, and frozen pizza… and bottled water for some reason, like the government is going to turn off the water supply… but a bit more bad news and interest in going to public events might see a serious decline.

If you want to join in, you need to make an account over at FML.

After that, search for the league TAGN Movie Obsession.  The password to join in “George” without the quotation marks.

Fantasy Movie League Fall 2019 Final Score

I said at the mid-season check-in that the fall 2019 Fantasy Movie League race was more interesting than usual.

The race remained tight right up until week 10, when SynCaine bet on Midway and ended up with the perfect pick, which got him $95 million for the week, $40 million more than the second place pick.  That jumped him up into first place overall and opened up a gap that nobody was able to close in the final three weeks, so the final top scores for the TAGN league for fall were:

  1. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $1,003,734,130
  2. Wilhelm’s Qeynosian Kinetoscope – $948,306,363
  3. Too Orangey For Crows – $926,452,645
  4. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $914,543,237
  5. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $885,407,281
  6. Joanie’s Joint – $838,079,152

The alternate scoring, based on a 1 to 5 point scale this time around since we had only about seven regulars, ended up as follows:

  1. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – 42
  2. Too Orangey For Crows – 37
  3. Wilhelm’s Qeynosian Kinetoscope – 31
  4. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – 26
  5. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – 26
  6. Joanie’s Joint – 14

Bhagpuss and I swapped spots for the alternate scoring.  During close weeks I was frequently in the pack but several spots down.  I extended the final scores to six players as Joanie actually had the top score two weeks, which was as often as I won.

Congratulations to SynCaine for winning the season!

The winter, or “awards” season starts this week.  I won’t be covering it on a weekly basis.  But if it turns out to be another interesting race I will give a mid-season update.

If you want to join on the league you need to make a Fantasy Movie League account.  Once that is done, go to the leagues page, find the search field, and enter TAGN, which should bring up only our league.  Click on the link for TAGN Movie Obsession.  That should bring you to the league page where you will find a button that says Join.  Click that, enter George as the password, and you’re in.

Fall FML Mid Season Glance

In hindsight I wish I had carried on and done an official Fantasy Movie League for the fall season.

Autumn is an odd time for movies.  It sits in a gap between the summer blockbusters and the end of the year rush to get the Oscar candidates up on screen. (The academy is old and has a very short memory.)  This makes it a time when some odd movies that wouldn’t stand up during either end of the season feel safe to show up.

Of course, there are the usual seasonal expectations.  Halloween demands horror, and the season opened up with IT: Chapter Two, which rang in at $91 million its opening week and which I might have expected it to be the big release of the season and to still be lingering about at the bottom of the picks after seven weeks.

But it isn’t.  It has gone.  And it has been eclipsed.

The Joker came along with a $96 million first week showing in a season when a lot of weeks the top film is more in the $30 million range.  And that might not be the peak for the season.  The season will wrap up with Frozen II, which is bound to be big.

And in the middle even some of those $30 million films haven’t been bad.  I enjoyed Downtown Abby even if it was a wholly unnecessary fan service cash grab.  And unless the reviews are bad I will go see Midway to compare it to the 70s film.  Also I happen to be finishing up Shattered Sword, a detailed look at the Japanese side of the battle that has become the definitive English language source for that aspect of events.  And they just happened to have found the wrecks of the Kaga and Akagi, two of the four Japanese carriers sunk during the battle.

I’m also keen to see Jojo Rabbit, though with plans this weekend I will have to hope it lasts for a couple weeks in theaters.

Mostly though I am interested in what a close race the season is turning out to be.  There are only six of us picking regularly… if I do another season of posts I will probably limit it to a top five race since we couldn’t even sustain ten regulars over the summer… but the top five in the pack are close enough that any one of us could end up on top by the end.  The current standings at the end of week seven are:

  1. Wilhelm’s Qeynosian Kinetoscope – $509,212,563
  2. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $504,887,493
  3. Too Orangey For Crows – $504,525,995
  4. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $494,337,399
  5. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $491,669,647

There is less than at $18K gap between first and fifth.  I am not sure we have seen a race still that close seven weeks in.  It is close enough that changes in the weekend estimates between Saturday and Sunday this past week changed the lineup.

And the different rules continues to set our league apart.  Just about every other week the perfect pick for us is different from the main league.  The $2 million bonus for the worst performer and no penalty for empty screens can shake things up.

Anyway, we shall see how the final tally comes out.  There are six weeks left to go.

Summer Movie League – The Final Cut

Our Summer Fantasy Movie League has come to and end.  It is now time to tally up the final scores.

As these things sometimes go, the final week was a mild affair.  While we got a four day weekend for the 13th week, there were no big new titles for Labor Day.  That left us all piecing together lineups from 14 movies we had all worked with before, with one minor new title that showed up at the bottom of the pricing list.

As a holiday, the Labor Day weekend seemed to be looking longingly back at summer rather than forward towards the coming of autumn.  And nostalgia never pays off quite as well as the first big rush, so the week ended up with moderate scores.  In the question on which title to anchor on, Angel has Fallen or Good Boys, the answer for the perfect pick turned out to be two of each, with 4x Spider-man: Far From Home, the best performer of the week, rounding out the lineup.  That was good for a little past $90 million.  However, none of us went that route and the scores for the week ended up looking like this.

  1. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $76,603,372
  2. Joanie’s Joint – $74,977,924
  3. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – $74,253,384
  4. Too Orangey For Crows – $73,628,176
  5. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $72,245,584
  6. Wilhelm’s Qeynosian Kinetoscope – $70,318,741
  7. Conical Effort – $69,904,101
  8. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – $68,145,628
  9. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $62,206,360
  10. grannanj’s Cineplex – $25,166,100

It was a conservative week and the only outlier was Po, who went all-in on The Overcomer in hopes of a big score.  That did not come to pass.

And with that, we have the final scores for the season.

  1. Wilhelm’s Qeynosian Kinetoscope – $1,199,390,085
  2. Too Orangey For Crows – $1,178,588,387
  3. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $1,089,791,074
  4. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $1,052,262,247
  5. Conical Effort – $1,023,045,552
  6. Joanie’s Joint – $1,019,636,134
  7. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – $996,749,080
  8. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $954,183,431
  9. grannanj’s Cineplex – $780,060,250
  10. Goat Water Picture Palace – $557,351,870

I managed to hold of Bhagpuss and keep first place, with him falling just over $20 million behind.  If the season had gone one more week, things might have ended different.  The first week of the fall season sees the opening of It: Chapter Two, which is the sort of big week that can change the lineup.  SynCaine held onto a solid third place, running away from the pack that had been vying for the spot for several weeks running.

Then there is the alternate scoring, with the number of weeks won in parenthesis.

  1. Wilhelm’s Qeynosian Kinetoscope – 93 (2)
  2. Too Orangey For Crows – 90 (2)
  3. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – 77 (3)
  4. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – 73
  5. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – 72 (2)
  6. Joanie’s Joint – 64
  7. Conical Effort – 61 (1)
  8. grannanj’s Cineplex – 55 (1)
  9. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – 47
  10. Goat Water Picture Palace – 45 (2)

The top four remained the same in both scoring systems, after which things varied.  With a season where only 7-12 people were picking on any given week, being consistent and picking every week was enough to remain mid pack, while a couple of winning weeks could keep you in play.

And so it goes.  Thank you for playing another summer season.  As I noted, I will keep the league running, but won’t be posting about it on a weekly basis.  I might return for the winter (or awards) season.  There is a Star Wars movie coming along with a few other titles that might make things interesting.

I will say that I did like the rules variation.  The lack of penalty for empty screens and the $2 million bonus for the worst performer made for some interesting picks and I enjoyed seeing weeks where the perfect pick for the TAGN league was different from the standard league rules.

Different Rules are Different

I just wish you could set the season duration.  I think a shorter season, maybe six weeks, might be more interesting.  At some point during the 13 week march an inevitability starts to set in as to who is in contention and who is out of the running.  But I get why FML might not want to have a bunch of out-of-sync leagues.  Maybe some day.

I did reset the deadline for picking to the 9am Pacific Time Friday standard for the league.

Thanks again for joining in!

Summer Movie League – Saved by a Fallen Angel

Week twelve of our Fantasy Movie League is now done and gone, leaving us just one week to go.

After getting trounced in week eleven, squandering my once substantial lead by not paying attention, you would have thought I would have done some serious research for this week.

But I didn’t, really.  I sort of winged it again, running mostly with my Monday.  Actually, if I had just stuck with my Monday pick I would have done better.  But I persisted with Angel has Fallen as my anchor, not really feeling it for anything else.  I thought Good Boys was too dear at the price, Here I Come was too risky, and The Overcomer unlikely to get enough of an audience.

And, as it turned out, I was about right.  If I had stuck with my 3x Angel has Fallen anchor, I would have been set, but for some reason I cannot recall I decided that Dora had a shot at best performer, so I loaded up on that for filler, losing a screen of Angel.

My final lineup was 2x Angel has Fallen, 1x Hobbs & Shaw, 5x Dora.  That was enough for third place and, more importantly, enough to stay ahead of Bhagpuss.

Saturday saw the estimates with me in second place, while Sunday dropped my into third, which carried me into the final totals, leaving the scores looking like this:

  1. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – $79,826,830
  2. Conical Effort – $79,143,562
  3. Wilhelm’s Qeynosian Kinetoscope – $77,485,569
  4. Joanie’s Joint – $73,148,120
  5. Too Orangey For Crows – $73,148,120
  6. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $72,072,088
  7. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $65,327,083
  8. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $61,665,007
  9. grannanj’s Cineplex – $23,471,704

The perfect pick was 3x Angel, 1x Hobbs & Shaw, and 4x Peanut Butter Falcon, the latter scoring the best performer nod.  Nobody got that lineup here… it is the same as the normal rule perfect pick, and only 16 people got that total… but Hamster and Conical did go with 3x Angel for anchors, getting them the top spot.

After the top three, the next three were heavy on Good Boys, which wasn’t a bad anchor.  It didn’t get punished by pricing as much as I thought it was.

And then there was Cyanbane and Po, who seemed to have bit on the idea of Ready or Not doing just badly enough to get worst performer, get the $2 million bonus for that, and turn into a solid anchor.  Unfortunately, it did too badly, or not goodly enough, or something… maybe they thought it would do well… but it didn’t go as planned regardless.

All of which leaves the season scores looking like this:

  1. Wilhelm’s Qeynosian Kinetoscope – $1,129,071,344
  2. Too Orangey For Crows – $1,104,960,211
  3. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $1,013,187,702
  4. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $980,016,663
  5. Conical Effort – $953,141,451
  6. Joanie’s Joint – $944,658,210
  7. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – $928,603,452
  8. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $891,977,071
  9. grannanj’s Cineplex – $754,894,150
  10. Goat Water Picture Palace – $557,351,870

There was no change in the ranking.  Bhagpuss fell back a bit, but remains just about $24 million behind me, a gap a good week could easily cover.

The alternate scoring ended up looking like this:

  1. Wilhelm’s Qeynosian Kinetoscope – 88
  2. Too Orangey For Crows – 83
  3. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – 69
  4. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – 67
  5. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – 67
  6. Conical Effort – 57
  7. Joanie’s Joint – 55
  8. grannanj’s Cineplex – 54
  9. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – 45
  10. Goat Water Picture Palace – 45

Bhagpuss is just five points behind me, so there are a number of final week possibilities that could end up with me in second place.  Third place is also in play, with three people in very close proximity.

Which leads us all to the final week’s lineup:

  1. Angel has Fallen – $216
  2. Good Boys – $161
  3. Lion King – $143
  4. Hobbs & Shaw – $129
  5. The Overcomer – $123
  6. Angry Birds 2 – $100
  7. Ready or Not – $98
  8. Dora and the Lost City of Gold – $84
  9. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – $83
  10. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – $74
  11. The Peanut Butter Falcon – $72
  12. Spider-man: Far From Home – $60
  13. Toy Story 4 – $59
  14. Don’t Let Go – $54
  15. 47 Meters Down 2 – $46

Two films dropped from the list, The Art of Racing in the Rain and
Blinded by the Light.  They were replaced by one new film and one returnee.

The new film is Don’t Let Go, a supernatural thriller that is showing up at the bottom of the list and has no long range forecast.  Unless it breaks out, I am not sure how to rate it.

The returnee is Toy Story 4, which was in 17th place last week at the box office.  I am going to guess that it is going to get a theater expansion this coming weekend to have made it back up into the list.

Why would Toy Story 4 get a theater expansion this week?  It is Labor Day weekend in the US, the holiday that pretty much declares summer is over and everybody has to get back to school… though my daughter has been back to school for more than two weeks at this point.  This is the last big family weekend, so if you don’t have a trip planned then maybe a movie will do you.

That also means that this is a four day box office, Friday through Monday, so good luck getting estimates that match your needs.

As for my Monday gut pick, I went with 3x Angel has Fallen, 1x Good Boys, and 4x 47 Meters Down.  That seemed “safe,” but we’ll see what estimates look like as the week goes.

Also, as noted, this is the last week of the season.  With the end of summer I will also stop writing about the league every week, save for the final season wrap up.  I’ll leave it running, because why not, but I won’t be watching it closely.  If somebody else wants to run a league though, I’ll join up.

So get your picks in.  The league locks for the last time this season tomorrow night.

Summer Movie League – A Good Week for Good Boys

Week eleven of our Fantasy Movie League went on past and it is clear that I should have been paying more attention.

Being the leader overall I sought to play something of a conservative lineup.  Back on Monday night that meant 3x Hobbs & Shaw and 5x Hollywood, because the early estimates put that as pretty safe.  The was even a hint that it might be the top earner again, confidence in the new titles being somewhat sketchy.

And then… well… I am blaming the coming of WoW Classic for distracting me because I didn’t really go back and look at forecasts or which way the wind was blowing for the weekend.  And given that everybody else seemed to have picked up on where the week was headed… well, it was a bad week for me.

Bhagpuss even gave me a hint, mentioning that Good Boys seemed to be looking very good on Wednesday of last week, but I didn’t take the clue, so when the league locked and became visible on Friday, I was clearly the odd man out.  Everybody else who picked had at least one screen of Good Boys.

When the Saturday estimates came it, I was in 7th out of seven who picked, a situation that only got worse come Sunday.  The final results did not make things better, with Good Boys piling up $21.4 million, well past all estimates, so the results for the week ended up looking like this:

  1. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $128,365,213
  2. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $125,762,910
  3. Too Orangey For Crows – $125,633,270
  4. Conical Effort – $107,071,667
  5. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $89,391,600
  6. Joanie’s Joint – $86,197,240
  7. Wilhelm’s Qeynosian Kinetoscope – $80,944,180
  8. grannanj’s Cineplex – $44,487,408
  9. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – $30,509,473

Remember week 4, where I was the only one who went all-in on Yesterday?  Well, this was the opposite of that week.  A least I stayed ahead of the two people who did not pick but still had some viable screens carried forward.

The perfect pick for our league was 5x Good Boys, 1x Lion King, and 2x empty, worth a little over $134 million, which made it more valuable than the perfect pick for the standard rule set, which rang in a million behind.

But nobody got the perfect pick, though SynCaine was close.  The scores then go down based primarily on how many screens of Good Boys people went with, with filler separating the close picks.

All of that left the the overall scores looking like this:

  1. Wilhelm’s Qeynosian Kinetoscope – $1,051,585,775
  2. Too Orangey For Crows – $1,031,812,091
  3. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $941,115,614
  4. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $918,351,656
  5. Conical Effort – $873,997,889
  6. Joanie’s Joint – $871,510,090
  7. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – $848,776,622
  8. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $826,649,988
  9. grannanj’s Cineplex – $731,422,446
  10. Goat Water Picture Palace – $557,351,870

I stayed in the lead, but Bhagpuss is now less than $20 million behind me and, as we just saw, during a chaotic week jumps of that amount are totally possible.  He just closed the gap between us by $40 million after all, so I need to pay attention.

SynCaine got a solid jump as well.  He would need another big week to be a threat to first place, but it could happen.  Without any big moves, the nearest fight seems to be for fifth position.

The alternate scoring looks like this:

  1. Wilhelm’s Qeynosian Kinetoscope – 80
  2. Too Orangey For Crows – 77
  3. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – 64
  4. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – 62
  5. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – 59
  6. grannanj’s Cineplex – 52
  7. Conical Effort – 48
  8. Joanie’s Joint – 48
  9. Goat Water Picture Palace – 45
  10. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – 41

I did make the executive decision that I would award no points for a zero score, which means that Goat is no longer accruing alternate scoring points.

Bhagpuss closed the gap between us here as well and, frankly, could have made it a tie race if he had made it to first.  The buffering effect of the alternate scoring means that there is still a tight race for third place, with Cyanbane holding onto that spot for the moment.

And so it goes.

All of which brings us to week twelve, the next to last week, and a lineup of choices that looks like this:

  1. Angel has Fallen – $253
  2. Ready or Not – $175
  3. Good Boys – $167
  4. Overcomer – $148
  5. Hobbs & Shaw – $114
  6. Lion King – $114
  7. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – $81
  8. Angry Birds 2 – $78
  9. Dora and the Lost City of Gold – $71
  10. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – $69
  11. 47 Meters Down 2 – $59
  12. The Art of Racing in the Rain – $38
  13. Blinded by the Light – $33
  14. The Peanut Butter Falcon – $26
  15. Spider-man: Far From Home – $25

Gone from the list are Toy Story 4, The Kitchen, The Farewell, and Where’d You Go, Bernadette, while last week’s top priced picks are decidedly mid-pack, save for Good Boys, which got the usual pricing punishment that best performers tend to receive.

At the top of the list this week is Angel has Fallen, which is the sequel to London has Fallen and Olympus has Fallen, though the films have been so chaotic that, despite having seen both, I did not realize that London and Olympus were actually connected movies.

Shows what I know.

Olympus grossed $30 million its opening weekend, while London hit $20 million.  The LRF puts Angel has Fallen at around $18 million.  That seems a little optimistic for a third sequel, but it is also opening up against less direct competition than the previous two titles.

Next up is Ready or Not, a “black comedy” that sees a possibly Victorian era bride (just judging by the poster) who realizes her soon-to-be in-laws’ plan for a game of hide-and-seek has turned into a game to hunt and kill her.  She turns the tables and hilarity ensues.

Didn’t we have another Most Dangerous Game rip-off already planned for this summer? The Hunt I think?  It was pulled due to recent mass shootings, or because the president criticized the idea, or possibly because preview audiences didn’t like it.  But Victorians killing each other is fine.  Most people killing each others in movies is fine I guess.  I’m sure Angel has Fallen will be knocking off more than a few.

There is no LRF for Ready or Not, but given the Angel estimate and the FML pricing, $12-13 million seems like what somebody thinks it ought to do.  I guess.  There are B-list names in the cast, but nobody who is a draw in and of themselves, so I really don’t know.

Then there is the Overcomer, a Christian faith-based drama about a high school basketball coach finding himself in Christ.  Written, directed, and starring a former pastor who is on his sixth such film, the LRF is calling for $3-8 million depending on how things play out.  The films by this group have never done less than $6 million, while the FML pricing seems to indicate $10 million is expected, so maybe count on that end of the spectrum?

And, finally, there is The Peanut Butter Falcon, a retelling of Huckleberry Finn staged around a man with Down’s Syndrome who runs away to achieve his dream of becoming a professional wrestler.

Already in limited distribution in 47 theaters, it is expanding this week.  The theater count will influence this.  The reviews are excellent, so it is a wild card, though the name might be fighting against it as much as anything.  It’s position near Spider-man: Far From Home seems to predict at least a $1.5 million box office for it, and its low price means that it doesn’t need to go beyond $2 million to be a best performer contender.

So what to pick?

Safe seems to be an anchor on Angel, but there is a gap where Ready or Not could under-perform just enough, around $11 million, to grab worst performer, which would ironically make it an excellent choice.  Good Boys could pull that off as well, thanks to the rules of the league.  But that is a pretty thin line to walk.

(Also, I was wrong previously, or it got changed, but the FML Cineplex Builder takes the odd rules of our league into account so long as you select our league from the drop down.)

A mix between Angel and Peanut Butter could work, if you believe the latter will break out.  That is my Monday night lineup.  We’ll see if I stick with that.  All I know is that I need to pay more attention this week.

Anyway, get your picks in soon.  The league locks late tomorrow night.

Summer Movie League – Scary Stories Rule

Week ten of our Summer Fantasy Movie League left me more than a bit surprised.

I had stated that last week, with the Hobbs & Shaw premier, that we might be past any “big weeks” that people could use to catch up, and then Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark went nuts.

I write these posts on Monday night when the data available is usually just the long range forecast from the previous week.  That and how FML prices things are about all I have to go when it comes to sizing things up.  Last week the the LRF had Dora way ahead of Scary Stories, and the FML pricing, which not as absolute, was still heavily tilted towards the young explorer.

But by the time Thursday rolled around and I needed to finalize my pick, Dora seemed on the outs while some watchers were saying that Scary Stories might get somewhere beyond $15 million.

At that moment I was still contemplating the doggies story The Art of Racing in the Rain.  I had gone with 7x screens of that for my Monday night pick.  But for the final I suddenly felt that Scary Stories was the better anchor.  So my Thursday afternoon final pick was 4x Scary Stories, 2x Toy story 4, 1x Aladdin, and 1x Annabelle Comes Home.

Come Friday morning when the last leagues locked and picks were visible to all, I knew I had made the right choice.  All of the top players in the FML league were anchored on Scary Stories.

Come the Saturday morning estimates Scary Stories looked like a winner, with a best performer bonus on top of exceeding its estimates.  Sunday morning only made Scary Stories look even better.  And come the final numbers… well, this is what the weekly scores ended up looking like.

  1. Too Orangey For Crows – $102,763,640
  2. Wilhelm’s Qeynosian Kinetoscope – $101,787,156
  3. grannanj’s Cineplex – $99,082,063
  4. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $57,701,940
  5. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – $56,424,809
  6. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $55,698,881
  7. Joanie’s Joint – $54,739,378
  8. Conical Effort – $49,606,778
  9. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $46,321,746
  10. Goat Water Picture Palace – $2,974,740

The perfect pick, which was unique to our league rule set once again, was 4x Scary Stories, 1x Hollywood, and 3x empty, which was worth just over $103 million with the $5 million perfect pick bonus.  Nobody went that route, but Bhagpuss got fairly close, taking the week.

There is an obvious gap in lineups.  Those of us who went in with 4x Scary Stories cashed it with around $100 million.  Everybody else who picked was in the $50 million range.  Even my 7x The Art of Racing in the Rain Monday night pick ran in that range, good for $59 million.  The doggie movie hit its $8 million mark right on the nose.

Po had the worst lineup of those who picked as The Kitchen under performed badly, falling behind the doggo movie.  Po was at least saved a bit by the $2 million per screen worst performer bonus, which was good for $10 million as he anchored on five screens of it.

Scary Stories breaking out and coming in second overall in the box office despite being 4th place in price skewed the week pretty badly.  So I was wrong last week, another big win was possible.  That can always happen when FML prices badly I guess, all of which left the overall scores looking like this.

  1. Wilhelm’s Qeynosian Kinetoscope – $970,641,595
  2. Too Orangey For Crows – $906,178,821
  3. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $828,960,056
  4. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – $818,267,149
  5. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $812,750,401
  6. Joanie’s Joint – $785,312,850
  7. Conical Effort – $766,926,222
  8. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $700,887,078
  9. grannanj’s Cineplex – $686,935,038
  10. Goat Water Picture Palace – $557,351,870

At this point I look fairly secure in first and Bhagpuss in second.  Barring any sort of huge break-out box office… like Scary Stories again… it will be tough to assail either of us.  There does still look to be a reasonable fight for third place though.

The alternate scoring looks like this.

  1. Wilhelm’s Qeynosian Kinetoscope – 76
  2. Too Orangey For Crows – 69
  3. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – 58
  4. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – 57
  5. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – 52
  6. grannanj’s Cineplex – 49
  7. Goat Water Picture Palace – 45
  8. Joanie’s Joint – 43
  9. Conical Effort – 41
  10. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – 32

With the alternate scoring I am still well within range of at least the next four people if I pick badly.  Given that there are only nine of us picking regularly, the lowest point value anybody will get will be 2 points, which means if I pick very badly my score could be as low as 82 at the end of the final week.  Bhagpuss, Cyanbane, and Miniature could all theoretically pass me, while SynCaine could tie that score.  So I had best pick well.

All of which leads us to week eleven and the choices we all have.

  1. 47 Meters Down: Uncaged – $202
  2. Angry Birds 2 – $201
  3. Hobbs & Shaw – $174
  4. Good Boys – $171
  5. Lion King – $143
  6. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – $138
  7. Dora and the Lost City of Gold – $120
  8. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – $93
  9. Blinded by the Light – $77
  10. Where’d You Go, Bernadette – $74
  11. The Art of Racing in the Rain – $55
  12. Spider-man: Far From Home – $44
  13. Toy Story 4 – $36
  14. The Kitchen – $31
  15. The Farewell – $22

Five titles got bumped from the lineup this week, with Brian Banks, Yesterday, Crawl, Aladdin, and Annabelle Comes Home all exiting.

Replacing those are five new films, none of which really strike a cord with me.

47 Meters Down: Uncaged is a sequel to the 2017 summer film that involved people stuck in a shark cage under water.  The original was notable for making a lot of money relative to its small budget, so we got a second entry.  This time around people are scuba diving in ocean caves and discover sharks, after which the whole survival/horror aspect no doubt kicks in.

The long range forecast is a modest $13 million.

Next up is The Angry Birds Movie 2, another sequel to another film from summers past.  The original was surprisingly successful, which means we get round two.  The long range forecast for the weekend was $17 million when last I checked, which might make you wonder why FML has it priced a dollar less than 47 Meters Down: Uncaged.  So there is clearly something in play here.

About $30 down the price list is Good Boys, a comedy about the simple plans of 12 year old boys going wildly wrong.  It has good reviews on Rotten Tomatoes so far and the long range forecast puts it at around $13 million, which given the pricing here, seems to indicate that FML thinks 47 Meters Down: Uncaged is going to do better than its LRF.

Further down the list is Blinded by the Light, which I am just going to copy the description for:

Javed (Viveik Kalra) is a British teen of Pakistani descent, growing up in the town of Luton, England, in 1987. Amidst the racial and economic turmoil of the times, he writes poetry as a means to escape the intolerance of his hometown and the inflexibility of his traditional father. But when a classmate introduces him to the music of “The Boss”, Javed sees parallels to his working-class life in Springsteen’s powerful lyrics. As Javed discovers a cathartic outlet for his own pent-up dreams, he also begins to find the courage to express himself in his own unique voice.

It is tagged as “coming of age comedy drama.”  The LRF puts it at about $5.5 million.

And last on the new list is Where’d You Go, Bernadette, a “mystery comedy drama” based on a book of the same name with some reasonably big names in the cast.  The long range forecast puts it at $6 million, but you will note that FML priced it below Blinded by the Light.

This sort of chaotic pricing compared to forecasts means that there is opportunity… if you have some insight into what might exceed expectations and what might fall short.  Clearly the LRF isn’t to be believed, not after how often it has been wrong this season.  You can’t even trust it to be wrong in the right direction.  While it has over-estimated a lot of films, there were a few critical under-estimations too.

My own Monday evening plan was to be conservative.  The line up for that, 3x Hobbs & Shaw, 5x Hollywood.  I’m sticking with that unless I get some insight into the new titles.

Only two weeks left after this.  Get your picks in soon.  Next week features… *checks notes*… Angel has Fallen.  I’m going to have to read up on that one, as I have no clue from just the title.