Category Archives: Movies

Fall Movie League – Foreign Domination

Week Seven of our Fall Fantasy Movie League is now in the rear view mirror, meaning we’re past the half way point of the 13 week season.

Way back at the beginning of week seven the picks available seemed to offer multiple possible avenues to success.

 Happy Death Day         $350
 Blade Runner 2049       $237
 The Foreigner           $143
 The Mountain Between Us $99
 It                      $95
 My Little Pony          $84
 Victoria & Abdul        $80
 Kingsmen                $71
 American Made           $71
 LEGO Ninjago Movie      $70
 Marshall                $62
 Flatliners              $34
 Battle of the Sexes     $24
 American Assassin       $9
 Til Death Do Us Part    $7

Happy Death Day, a murder mystery meets Groundhog Day film, seemed to be clear to top the box office and was priced accordingly.  Blade Runner 2049 was only in its second week, so still had potential to deliver at its lower price.  And then there was The Foreigner, a Jackie Chan vehicle that

Any of those three seemed possible anchors for a successful pick.

At its price, Happy Death Day seemed the least likely of the three to be the winning pick, even if it exceeded its estimate, which it did in spades, bringing in $26 million while only expected to hit about $20 million.

Blade Runner 2049 had been predicted to be a slow burn, a movie that wouldn’t be strong out of the gate, but which would sustain its box office over time rather than dropping 50% on the second week.  I calculated that if it could just keep the second week drop to 45% or less, it was a strong candidate.

Meanwhile The Foreigner felt a bit under priced.  At $143 a screen you could get six screens of it, plus a couple of fill ins, and if it exceeded its $10 million estimate by even a bit it would be a strong contender.

The good news, for me, is that I went with six screens of The Foreigner and two screens of American Made, which turned out to be the perfect pick of the week, shared with 415 other players, good for $106 million.

Fall Week Seven Perfect Pick

The bad news is that I picked it on my daughter’s account, my alt account, where I put the pick I didn’t take for my main account.  Wilhelm went with four screens of Blade Runner 2049, Battle of the Sexes, and three screens of American Assassin.

My Fall Week Seven Picks

This was me letting my gut out vote my brain.  I’ve beaten myself with my alt pick three weeks out of seven now.

I was down to the wire deciding which way to jump, and in the last moment I went for Blade Runner 2049 more because I wanted it to do well than because I really believed it was going to make my goal.

And it did not make my goal.  It dropped 53% over opening week, reinforcing the suspicion in the back of my brain that perhaps the cult classic status of the original Blade Runner didn’t mean it was as popular as I thought it was.  A basic projection problem.  I liked it, people who talk about it generally like it, but that did not translate into a mass audience.  RIP my Blade Runner 2049 plan and any hopes of a sequel.

Still, my picks were not the worst in the bunch though… not to be mean… I did worry a bit when I saw Isey and I had identical picks.  The scores for the week went down like this:

  1. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $101,436,978
  2. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $98,288,772
  3. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $97,984,090
  4. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $84,946,755
  5. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $72,994,597
  6. Kraut Screens (T) – $72,607,820
  7. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $70,991,190
  8. Wilhelm’s Films from New Eden – $64,869,289
  9. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $64,869,289
  10. I HAS MOVIES (T) – $64,869,289
  11. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $64,294,226
  12. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $66,533,492
  13. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $59,853,529

Meta League legend

  • TAGN Movie Obsession – players from it marked with a (T)
  • MCats Multiplex – players from it marked with an (M)

Ocho and Bel both stopped picking over the last few weeks, so Liore’s league has been dropped from the list since I am the only active player there now.

Those at the top went heavy on The Foreigner, which pulled in $13 million plus was the best price/performer, giving it a $2 million boost, making it worth $15 million per screen.  That is almost as much as Blade Runner 2049.

Past that are the people who anchored on Blade Runner 2049 or Happy Death Day, which came out to be about equally poor choices in the end.  That left the overall scores as follows:

  1. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $597,259,405
  2. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $585,837,180
  3. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $552,625,270
  4. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $537,907,722
  5. Wilhelm’s Films from New Eden – $523,575,221
  6. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $522,053,084
  7. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $521,039,080
  8. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $520,856,126
  9. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $496,420,772
  10. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $438,879,656
  11. I HAS MOVIES (T) – $425,994,240
  12. Kraut Screens (T) – $415,521,600
  13. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $254,764,219

Week seven put me way at the back of the pack for the MCats league.  Catching Corr seems unlikely unless he forgets to pick.  Otherwise he generally picks as well as I do or better every week save the first.

However SynCaine and I remain neck and neck in the TAGN league, though both of us had best be wary of Pak who, despite starting a week late, is catching up to us.

And that leads us into Week Eight, which has the following options:

Boo! 2: A Madea Halloween    $411
Happy Death Day              $202
Only the Brave               $201
Geostorm                     $186
The Snowman                  $167
Blade Runner 2049            $128
The Foreigner                $105
It                           $57 
Same Kind of Different As Me $53
American Made                $50 
The Mountain Between Us      $49
Kingsmen                     $47
LEGO Ninjago Movie           $42
My Little Pony               $35
Victoria & Abdul             $31

New on the list are Boo! 2: A Madea Halloween, which doesn’t appeal to me, but I have long understood that there is no accounting for taste, Only the Brave, a wilderness firefighting tale that seems spot on given recent events, Geostorm, a natural disaster flick that seems maybe a bit too spot on given recent events, and Same Kind of Different As Me, for which a pithy summary eludes me.

The top six movies on the list are all potentially anchors.  (Going all-in on The Foreigner would leave $160 on the table, which is never a good plan.)  I am not sure which way to jump at this point.  Boo! is too expensive relative to current estimates while nobody is going to convince me that seven screens of Blade Runner 2049 are a good idea after the current results.  So my own anchor will likely be something in between those two.

Honest Trailers – Blade Runner

With Blade Runner 2049 out it was inevitable we would get an Honest Trailers response.

I have to admit that they aren’t exactly wrong on some of those points, but back in the 80s when I saw it in the theater (at the Varsity Theater, when it was the New Varsity and they used to play movies after their first run) a lot of the appeal was the strange, semi-familiar but futuristic atmosphere and cross-cultural melting pot of LA.

And then there was Spaceship Warlock that totally played on that vibe back in the day.

Of course, there is a Cinema Sins Everything Wrong with Blade Runner video on YouTube as well.  It is a bit brutal.  But I watched it myself this week and… I still like it.  So take that YouTube critics!

Fall Movie League – Pony Fever!

Week six for our fall Fantasy Movie League is done and it quite clearly had a theme.

When I wrote last week’s post I ended up saying that Blade Runner 2049, despite being the big new title of the week, was too expensive, with The Mountain Between Us looking like the most attractively priced film, and marking My Little Pony as a potential dark horse candidate.

Sound words in hindsight.  These were the prices for week six.

Blade Runner 2049        $838
 The Mountain Between Us $150
 It                      $143
 Kingsmen                $133
 American Made           $131
 My Little Pony          $126
 LEGO Ninjago Movie      $109
 Victoria & Abdul        $56
 Flatliners              $44
 Battle of the Sexes     $32
 American Assassin       $26
 The Stray               $16
 Home Again              $14
 Til Death Do Us Part    $10
 Mother!                 $9

There was still some room to work with in the top six movies, with no real obvious right path save for the pricing of The Mountain Between Us.

However, come Wednesday a madness struck, a pony fever took over the FML chat.  Box Office Pro, which had previously put My Little Pony in at about $7 million for the weekend box office suddenly and rather drastically upped their estimate to just about $12 million.

With $12 million as the target all question of who to pick went out the door… if you believed the estimate.  A lot of people did as the pony fever spread, and the movie rose in the research vault from the 9th most popular pick with 22% of players choosing it up to 3rd position with almost 32% of the total, surpassed only by Blade Runner 2049 with 38% and It with 34%.

In the FML chatter forums people were complaining that the week was now a slam dunk and that FML ought to change the pricing after the fact if movies get a sudden bump like that.

Meanwhile, on the FML Slack channel I am on, the discussion quickly got most of us on board with the pony train hype.

The problem here is that estimates are just that… estimates.  They are not reality.  Though, after the Friday night numbers the estimates seemed to be coming true as the Saturday predictions showed the pony special pick… seven screens of My Little Pony and one of LEGO Ninjago being the prefect pick and My Little Pony the price/performance leader.  That would have put all of us well past the $90 million mark for the week.  We were going to leave everybody in our dust.  Stats showed that half of the top 100 players were all-in on ponies.

That was my pick as well, so I was up on that pony high as well.

My Fall Week Six Picks

But the Saturday estimates are like a rock on the coast that has sunk many an optimistic mariner.

Sunday came and the My Little Pony party seemed to be over.  The estimates turned out to be very optimistic and the Sunday numbers hangover was upon us.  Pony dreams crashed and The Mountain Between Us ascended.  In the end the perfect pick was six screens of The Mountain Between Us and two of Flatliners, the latter also getting the best price/performance nod.  138 people got the perfect pick this week.

Fall Week Six Perfect Pick

My Little Pony rang in just shy of $9 million for the weekend, putting it at 75% of its high end estimate.  Bad pony!  No treats for you!

Another victim of MLP fever

Meanwhile the Meta League scores for the week shook out like this:

  1. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $70,041,952
  2. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $69,285,911
  3. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $69,203,767
  4. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $69,203,767
  5. Wilhelm’s Films from New Eden – $69,203,767
  6. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $69,203,767
  7. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $69,203,767
  8. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $69,203,767
  9. Kraut Screens (T) – $66,935,930
  10. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $66,373,163
  11. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $66,196,344
  12. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $47,543,164
  13. I HAS MOVIES (T) – $43,541,793
  14. Ocho’s Octoplex (L) – $26,325,300 [did not pick]

Meta League legend:

  • TAGN Movie Obsession – players from it marked with a (T)
  • MCats Multiplex – players from it marked with an (M)
  • Liore’s Summer League – players from it marked with an (L)

Ben won first place for the week with six screens of The Mountain Between Us, but didn’t have Flatliners, while SynCaine got second with six screens of It.  However that did not put them all that far ahead of the pony crew, who shared the next six positions with identical picks.

Not a big gap there.  It wasn’t a week for one of us to get ahead with a good pick.  Rather the pack stayed mostly in place with bad picks (or no pick in one case) causing people to fall back a bit.

So the overall season looks like this at the end of week six:

  1. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $495,822,427
  2. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $487,853,090
  3. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $481,634,080
  4. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $464,913,125
  5. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $461,002,597
  6. Ocho’s Octoplex (L) – $417,219,840
  7. Wilhelm’s Films from New Eden – $458,705,932
  8. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $457,758,858
  9. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $436,092,325
  10. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $398,132,000
  11. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $374,010,367
  12. I HAS MOVIES (T) – $361,124,951*
  13. Kraut Screens (T) – $342,913,780
  14. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $188,230,727

Remember, some people in the (T) league showed up late… though not Isey of I HAS MOVIES who is clearly in the running for the “I voted my heart/gut” award for the season.

There it is, another week down and the next looming with a new set of picks and prices.

Happy Death Day          $350
Blade Runner 2049        $237
The Foreigner            $143
The Mountain Between Us  $99
It                       $95
My Little Pony           $84
Victoria & Abdul         $80
Kingsmen                 $71
American Made            $71
LEGO Ninjago Movie       $70
Marshall                 $62
Flatliners               $34
Battle of the Sexes      $24
American Assassin        $9
Til Death Do Us Part     $7

Blade Runner 2049 got a big price reduction, not only because of it being in the second week but also because it fell far shy of the estimates for its opening weekend, hitting just $32 million instead of passing $50 million.  But even before the estimates from last week were out they were saying they expected the movie to stay stronger than expected over time rather than peaking the first week and then disappearing.

Having seen Blade Runner 2049, I do recommend it, but only if you’ve seen the original.  It might be hard to figure out why some things matter if you have not.  But if you’re into it the 168 minutes go right by.  I plan to go see it again.

But would I anchor my week seven picks on it is the question?  Otherwise I know nothing about Happy Death Day, though 2017 seems to be the year of horror… and not just in the movies… and likewise nothing about The Foreigner.

And even with those three as possible anchors, what else looks strong to back that up?  Ponies?

Fall Movie League – I Should Just Let Tom Cruise

Week five of the Fall Fantasy Movie League had what seemed like several viable paths to success.

The pricing for week five showed the possible anchors.

 Kingsman             $256
 American Made        $225
 It                   $214
 LEGO Ninjago Movie   $168
 Flatliners           $143
 Battle of the Sexes  $72
 A Question of Faith  $42
 American Assassin    $40
 Home Again           $28
 Mother!              $21
 Stronger             $20
 Hitman's Bodyguard   $12
 Friend Request       $11
 Wind River           $10
 Spider-Man           $9

With those numbers you could anchor your week’s picks on three screens of Kingsman, four screens of American Made or It, or, if you were feeling daring, five screens of LEGO Ninjago, with enough room left in your budget to fill out the remaining screens from the low end of the price list.

With last week’s post I left little doubt where my allegiances lay.  Despite the pricing I was sure than All American action hero star Tom Cruise would be able to top a mediocre Bond film send-up (including an actual Bond film location) and a clown that lives in the sewers.

I was feeling it when I wrote that, and my picks were anchored on American Made.

And then I kept reading the entertainment news, which was pretty lukewarm on the movie, right up to Friday morning when the Thursday night preview numbers gave the film a solid “meh.”  Estimates, which were not strong to start with, dropped from about $16 million to $12 million, slating it for third place for the week.  So with less than an hour to go I jumped ship, leaving Tom for the Brits.

My Fall Week Five Picks (not estimates, despite what it says)

As it turned out, American Made did come in third place for the week.  I don’t usually go into the box office numbers directly, but this week was interesting enough to go there for the top three at least.

  1. Kingsman: The Golden Circle – $16,935,565
  2. It – $16,902,442
  3. American Made – $16,776,390

So American Made did place third.  But it still (barely) exceeded the initial estimate on which I based my Monday evening picks.  Kingsman, despite coming in first, failed to meet the $19 million mark it was predicted to make.  So, in a way, American Made won and Kingsman lost.  Sort of.

Certainly Kingsman was a losing bet for me.  Failing to stick with Tom Cruise cost me $12,838,225 for the week, a substantial amount in a tight race.  The results for the week were:

  1. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $90,006,078
  2. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $84,479,623
  3. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $75,486,613
  4. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $73,795,879
  5. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $73,572,570
  6. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $72,964,624
  7. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $72,269,815
  8. Wilhelm’s Films from New Eden – $66,215,620
  9. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $65,725,101
  10. Ocho’s Octoplex (L) – $65,135,309
  11. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $62,535,831
  12. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $62,283,727
  13. I HAS MOVIES (T) – $59,342,586
  14. Kraut Screens (T) – $45,107,607

Meta League legend:

  • TAGN Movie Obsession – players from it marked with a (T)
  • MCats Multiplex – players from it marked with an (M)
  • Liore’s Summer League – players from it marked with an (L)

That is actually quite a spread, with first place almost double last place.   Of course, it helps that Ben got the perfect pick for the week, something he shared with 432 other players.

And, in the final bit of irony for the week, the perfect pick was anchored on It, so I wasn’t going to take it going with either American Made or Kingsman.

Fall Week Five Perfect Pick

One of the going theories for FML is that the fewer titles you have on your eight screens, the more likely you are to do well, coupled with never leaving more than $35 of your budget unspent.  This week certainly fit the pattern. (One of the early tips I read was that if you have more than five titles in your line up, start over.)

So with week five behind us, the scores for the Meta League look like:

  1. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $426,618,660
  2. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $418,649,323
  3. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $411,592,128
  4. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $395,709,358
  5. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $394,629,434
  6. Ocho’s Octoplex (L) – $390,894,540
  7. Wilhelm’s Films from New Eden – $389,502,165
  8. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $388,472,947
  9. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $366,888,558
  10. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $328,928,233
  11. I HAS MOVIES (T) – $317,583,158
  12. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $307,814,023
  13. Kraut Screens (T) – $275,977,850
  14. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $140,687,563

The lower end of the list is populated (mostly) by people who entered after the first week. (And Darren, who showed up on week four.)

So my last minute change meant me in 7th place overall rather than 4th.  But there are still eight weeks to go, and week six looks interesting.  The line up is:

Blade Runner 2049       $838
The Mountain Between Us $150
It                      $143
Kingsmen                $133
American Made           $131
My Little Pony          $126
LEGO Ninjago Movie      $109
Victoria & Abdul        $56
Flatliners              $44
Battle of the Sexes     $32 
American Assassin       $26 
The Stray               $16
Home Again              $14
Til Death Do Us Part    $10
Mother!                 $9

Blade Runner 2049 is the obvious big release for the coming week.

However, at that price is needs to a lot better than the $50 million box office that has been currently projected.  All else equal, my spreadsheet says it needs at least $65 million to be worth tying up your picks with a single screen of Blade Runner 2049.

So that leaves a range of suspects in the $100 to $150 range on which to build your picks.  There are two new entries in that segment, The Mountain Between Us at $150 which seems a bit under-priced at the initial near $12 million estimate, and at the other end there is My Little Pony at $126, which seems a bit over-priced in that segment.

Still, My Little Pony intrigues me.  On the one hand, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic was hugely popular with its own serious fandom and such that, at its prime, would have driven something like this to a serious box office result.

On the other hand, My Little Pony and Bronies and whatnot was so five years ago that I haven’t seen MLP used in a meme in ages.  The show’s creators have catered to the fan base, but there have been a few alleged “jumped the shark” moments while the less said about My Little Pony: Equestria Girls the better.

Right now I am not sure which way to jump.  The Mountain Between Us seems primed as the early front runner, with My Little Pony as the dark horse candidate, but I still wouldn’t count out clowns, spies, and Tom Cruise as successful ventures this week.  And what if Blade Runner 2049 is good for $65 million or more?

Fall Movie League – Of Cabbages and Kingsman

Week four of the fall Fantasy Movie League gave us a few options when it came to filling out eight screens.

The three obvious anchors were It, which was entering its third week, Kingsman: Golden Circle, a sequel to the 2014 Kingsman: The Secret Service, and the third entry for big screen LEGO releases, LEGO Ninjago.  The pricing was:

 Kingsman: Golden Circle $511
 LEGO Ninjago Movie      $389
 It                      $352
 American Assassin       $68
 Friend Request          $66
 Mother!                 $34
 Home Again              $32
 Brad's Status           $22
 Hitman's Bodyguard      $19
 Wind River              $15
 Leap!                   $13
 Annabelle Creation      $12
 Spider-Man              $11
 Battle of the Sexes     $8
 Dunkirk                 $7

At the start of the week the studio estimates had It in at a solid, predictable $30 million.  That would have been my guess if asked.  Kingsman was being pushed as high as $45 million in predictions, while LEGO Ninjago was being considered for about $35 million.

With that sort of pricing spread and predictions, LEGO Ninjago seemed like the obvious anchor to me.  No only was it sizing up as a better price/performer than the alternatives, but it seemed solid to me as it was the only kids movie to hit the screen.  Of course, as somebody who loves LEGO, I might have been emotionally invested, but how could a LEGO movie miss?

The to fill in I went with two screens each of American Assassin, Home Again, and Battle of the Sexes.  While the latter was only on 20 screens I figured it still might beat its price competitor, Dunkirk, and maybe even squeeze out a best price/performance if LEGO Ninjago didn’t grab that.

My Fall Week Four Picks

Even when the Thursday night totals came in, reinforcing Kingsman and It in their respective estimates, I did not swap.  LEGO Ninjago did not have a preview night, which could have been a danger sign had the studio not glibly declared it a school night.  I bought that even as I was tinkering with a line up that had one screen of Kingsman and seven of American Assassin.  I have witness is Slack that I was contemplating such a line up.

That was the point in time when I could have been at least tied for first place for the week.

Instead I stuck with LEGO Ninjago and was let down.  As you can see from the image above it barely crossed the $20 million mark, far from the early week estimate.  I blame the lack of a Batman appearance, the hallmark of successful LEGO big screen ventures so far.

In the meta league a lot of people went with LEGO as well.  We’re all down at the bottom while those who bet on Kingsman are at the top, with the top two tied using the Kingsman line up I was considering.  Damn!

  1. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $82,812,329
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $82,812,329
  3. Kraut Screens (T) – 80,896,439
  4. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $80,388,701
  5. Ocho’s Octoplex (L) – $73,146,908
  6. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $67,722,939
  7. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $65,969,112
  8. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $65,969,112
  9. I HAS MOVIES (T) – $65,969,112
  10. Wilhelm’s Films from New Eden – $64,872,588
  11. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $61,124,362
  12. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $60,610,822
  13. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $58,501,206
  14. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $48,421,081

Meta League legend:

  • TAGN Movie Obsession – players from it marked with a (T)
  • MCats Multiplex – players from it marked with an (M)
  • Liore’s Summer League – players from it marked with an (L)

[We had one new addition to the TAGN league, Darren, and I dropped Bel from the Liore league as he stopped picking.]

Basically, if the score was over $67 million, that person went with Kingsman, and if it was under, they went with LEGO Ninjago.  Also Dunkirk beat Battle of the Sexes.  At least I got a bit of a boost from Home Again, the price/performance winner.

And yet there was a surprise twist.  The perfect pick of the week included neither Kingsman nor LEGO NinjagoIt was the anchor of the perfect pick again, with a heavy helping of Home Again, a selection good for close to $98 million.

Fall Week Four Perfect Pick

Damn meddling clowns!

That left the standings for the Meta League as follows:

  1. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $354,348,845
  2. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $344,853,444
  3. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $333,425,631
  4. Ocho’s Octoplex (L) – $325,759,23
  5. Wilhelm’s Films from New Eden – $323,286,545
  6. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $321,586,050
  7. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $314,900,377
  8. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $310,149,811
  9. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $304,352,727
  10. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $263,203,132
  11. I HAS MOVIES (T) – $258,240,572
  12. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $232,327,410
  13. Kraut Screens (T) – $230,870,243
  14. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $67,722,939

Reminder: The bottom of that list is (mostly) people who started a week or two… or three… late.

And so we head into week five where a number of new titles are joining the fray.  The FML pricing for week five looks like this:

Kingsmen: Golden Circle $256 
American Made           $225
It                      $214
LEGO Ninjago Movie      $168
Flatliners              $143
Battle of the Sexes     $72
A Question of Faith     $42
American Assassin       $40
Home Again              $28
Mother!                 $21
Stronger                $20
Hitman's Bodyguard      $12
Friend Request          $11
Wind River              $10
Spider-Man              $9

Somehow Kingsman in its second week is supposed to be a better performer than American Made, a Tom Cruise movie with him in a totally Tom Cruise role.  What has this country come to when a Tom Cruise movie, with Tom Cruise in a role he was born to play, Tom Cruise, cannot top the charts on its opening weekend? (And stop bringing up The Mummy.)

Ah well.

In addition we have Flatliners, A Question of Faith, and Stronger making their debuts on the list while Battle of the Sexes is now out in general release.

I have to think Tom Cruise is the pick for anchor this week.  It has decent reviews, it will be on many screens, and it is freakin’ Tom Cruise.  It has got to do better than the initial $16 million projection.  I guess you know where I stand right now.  We’ll see if I change when updated estimates, social media penetration numbers, and Thursday night preview results come in.

Fall Movie League – Clowns and Assassins

Week three was up for the fall Fantasy Movie League.

After a week where which day of It was all that mattered in your picks… and woe to those who went with Friday like I did or, worse, went with Home Again… we were back to a world with some interesting choices to make.  The line up looked like:

 It                 $799
 American Assassin  $167
 Mother!            $143
 Home Again         $75
 Hitman's Bodyguard $41
 Annabelle          $32
 Wind River         $27
 Leap!              $25
 Spider-Man         $18
 Dunkirk            $16
 Luck Logan         $14
 Emoji Movie        $10
 Despicable Me 3    $9
 Girls Trip         $7
 Best of the Rest   $7

It was clearly going to rule the box office roost again, but pricing meant that you could choose It and some cheap films, or you could gamble on whether or not a pile of screens running American Assassin or Mother! would outweigh the single screen of clown horror. (Also, screw movie names that are pronouns.)

My Monday evening gut pick was anchored on It largely because I knew it was going to pull in at least $50 million, and probably closer to $60 million, before anybody published estimates.

Estimates were slow and I don’t recall seeing anything firm until Thursday morning, at which point Mother! seemed out of the running, but American Assassin was predicted to be somewhere in the $12.5 million to $15 million range.  At the high end of that range the five screens you could get would be enough to make it a worthwhile bet against It.

So I swapped to five screens of American Assassin and then dropped in Mother!, Lucky Logan, and Best of the Rest to fill out the lineup.

My Fall Week Three Picks

I hindsight I should have gone with two Best of the Rest just based on what I said last week.  Best of the Rest tends to be the best price/performer when it shows up, something which occurred again this week.  That would have given me $2.7 million rather than $996K for Lucky Logan.  Ah well.  I will try to remember that for next time.

When the picks were in and locked on Friday morning there was a spread of choices among the Meta League.  Most people were in for five screens of American Assassin, though some were in for four or three screens, and four people were anchored on a screen of It.

In the end, the perfect pick wasn’t in any of our theaters.  Yes, five screens of American Assassin was the right anchor, but then you needed to screens of the suddenly not-so-bad Home Again and a screen of Best of the Rest, which turned out to be Dark Tower, so two Stephen King movies, one at each end of the top 15.

Fall Week Three Perfect Pick

That netted out to about $92.5 million with the perfect pick bonus.  74 people managed to get that pick.  But it didn’t go too bad for the rest of us.  Those heavy on American Assassin were at the top, where variations in the other three screens accounted for the minor gaps, but if you anchored on It you weren’t too far behind.  Hedging on American Assassin cost though.  The results of the Meta League for the week were:

  1. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $87,434,193
  2. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $85,746,474
  3. Wilhelm’s Films from New Eden – $85,672,954
  4. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $83,921,075
  5. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $83,632,973
  6. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $83,485,864
  7. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $83,285,598
  8. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $80,239,128
  9. I HAS MOVIES (T) – $79,745,592
  10. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $79,701,949
  11. Ocho’s Octoplex (L) – $77,328,839
  12. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $77,030,257
  13. Kraut Screens (T) – $73,395,633
  14. Bel’s House of Horrors (L) – $1,227,888 (didn’t pick, 4 empty screens)

Meta League legend:

  • TAGN Movie Obsession – players from it marked with a (T)
  • MCats Multiplex – players from it marked with an (M)
  • Liore’s Summer League – players from it marked with an (L)

A $14 million spread from top to bottom, not counting Bel, isn’t that wide, and the top half is within about a $4 million bracket.

That meant that nobody fell too far behind, but that nobody caught up or gained much of a lead either.  So the rankings for the season didn’t see any drastic changed over the previous week.

  1. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $271,686,516
  2. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $266,479,296
  3. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $264,464,743
  4. Wilhelm’s Films from New Eden – $258,563,957
  5. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $255,766,938
  6. Ocho’s Octoplex (L) – $252,612,323
  7. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $250,763,302
  8. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $249,025,449
  9. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $245,971,521
  10. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $197,384,020
  11. I HAS MOVIES (T) – $192,391,460
  12. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $171,866,588
  13. Bel’s House of Horrors (L) – $157,884,588
  14. Kraut Screens (T) – $150,063,804

A bit of shuffling there, but nothing drastic.  Those who started on week two… or who forgot to pick… or who has a really bad week last week… are clustered towards the bottom.

And now we face week four of the season with a few new titles on the list.

Kingsman: Golden Circle $511
LEGO Ninjago Movie      $389
It                      $352
American Assassin       $68
Friend Request          $66
Mother!                 $34
Home Again              $32
Brad's Status           $22
Hitman's Bodyguard      $19
Wind River              $15
Leap!                   $13
Annabelle Creation      $12
Spider-Man              $11
Battle of the Sexes     $8
Dunkirk                 $7

For new options Kingsman tops the list with the LEGO Ninjago Movie not far behind.  Then there is Friend Request and Brad’s Status tucked in mid-pack with Battle of the Sexes down near the bottom.  That is five new movies in the mix.

I have no feel for Kingsman.  The few people I know who saw the original didn’t like it.  But it did really well and there is some Hollywood rule about sequels being good for 80% of the original even if they don’t bring much new to the table.  So maybe 80% of the original’s $36 million as a starting point estimate?  Then again it is being heavily advertised and it being released in a different season… but it is also rated R… so who knows?

While I am not a fan of the LEGO Ninjago IP, I did love The LEGO Movie and the LEGO Batman Movie, and this is a kids film during a week when the other contenders for the under age demographic are pretty stale.  So unless I see a big red flag between now and Friday morning, I will likely be in on the LEGO Ninjago Movie as my anchor.  Better two of those than one Kingsman I think.

And then there is It, which did $60 million last week, so even if it drops by 50%, a likely amount, it will still be in around the $30 million mark, making a very viable third choice for an anchor.

Then we get into the filler options to back up the anchor, and there are a lot of options.  I feel like Battle of the Sexes is way under priced… it has Emma Stone and Steve Carell in it for Pete’s sake…  though I haven’t seen how many screens it will be on.  It might be an art house film that only appeals to me because I am old enough to remember the events on which it was based… and the episode of The Odd Couple came from it. [Addendum: Since I wrote this I saw on Box Office Mojo that it is only slated for 20 screens. So, yeah.]

Anyway, that is where we stand on the gateway to week four.

Fall Movie League – Making Clowns Evil Again

It was the second week of the fall season and I was defending my 13th place position (tied for 13 with a couple hundred other people, but still, pretty sweet), but facing the musical question, “So is this going to be another Stephen King movie bomb or what?”  This summer’s Dark Tower was pretty much in line with how I expect translations of his work to film to end up.

On Tuesday I vacillated over which movie on which to anchor my defense.  One key source was claiming that It would pass the $80 million mark over the weekend while Home Again would struggle to rake in just $6.6 million.  A second source felt that It was going to ring in more around $60-65 million while Home Again was set to hit $10 million.

And each of those ends of the spectrum demands a different anchor.  At $10 million not only would six screens of Home Again yield as much as all three days of It… and It was divided into Friday, Saturday, and Sunday screenings… but would be a shoe-in for the best price/performance of the week, giving it that $2 million per screen extra boost.

At $6.6 million though, Home Again would be a non-starter as an anchor, while a towering $81 million opening for It would make two screens of that the only possible winning baseline.

The first source has a tendency to over-estimate results by a small margin while the second chronically under-estimates, which is normally a useful tidibit of knowledge.  However, in this case, it wasn’t helpful at all, since the over-estimating source was calling Home Again at $6.6 million while the under-estimating source was sure it was good for $10 million.  Yet the sources were reversed for It.

Add in my tenancy for contrariness and a weakness for Reese Witherspoon and it was a tough choice to make.

And then on Wednesday Fandango announced that they had sold about a billion advanced tickets for It and that all cleared up.  Then it was just a matter of which It options to run with.

As noted last week, since It was the only big opening and the obvious winner, FML decided to make things interesting by chopping It into three, so you could choose the Friday, Saturday, or Sunday screenings.  The list of options as prices for the week:

It - Friday        $467
It - Saturday      $342
It- Sunday         $214
Home Again         $143
Hitman's Bodyguard $71
Wind River         $55
Annabelle          $45
Leap!              $38
Dunkirk            $31
Logan Lucky        $29
Spider-Man         $25
Despicable Me 3    $18
Girls Trip         $16
The Emoji Movie    $16
The Nut Job 2      $12

Price, of course, reflects the estimate box office.  But with It prepared to break all estimates, which days would be optimum?  Friday and Saturday are generally stronger than Sunday, but would Friday be worth more than two Sundays of revenue.

Eventually I decided that horror movies were really a Friday night thing.  My lineup was anchored by It Friday and It Saturday.  Then I filled up the remaining six screens with Dunkirk because I had been thinking too much on this whole thing and didn’t want to tinker any more.

My Fall Week Two Picks

When the Saturday estimates came in, Friday was looking like a pretty good pick, with an estimated $51 million take.

Then on Sunday the estimates put Saturday at $43 million and things were less rosy for me.  A lot of people had picked two Saturday screens and a Sunday, which when the final numbers came in, turned out to be the best of the lot.  Four Sunday’s came within a hair’s breadth of being ideal.

The deciding factor was in the secondary picks, from which there were quite a few options. But the perfect pick was two Saturday screens and a Sunday screen of It, one Annabelle, two Emoji Movie, and two Nut Job 2.

Fall Week Two Perfect Pick

Only seven people got the perfect pick this week.  But, minus the $5 million bonus for the perfect pick, a number of people got fairly close.  A lot closer than I did.  All I can say is that I am glad I got over my Reese Witherspoon fixation quickly.  Isey of I HAS MOVIES went with my first gut Reese pick, and look where he ended up.

In writing this I became a bit stuck as to how to represent scores.  I am in three leagues with some active players (four if I count our home league), so I wasn’t sure what league to use to represent the season.

To solve this I decided to create a Meta League for fall, and combine the results from each into a single ranking.  This had the result of making my performance this week look even worse!

The three combined leagues are:

  • TAGN Movie Obsession – players from it marked with a (T)
  • MCats Multiplex – players from it marked with an (M)
  • Liore’s Summer League – players from it marked with an (L)

Color coded as well, just because I said I would do that somewhere.  I bet that becomes annoying enough that I stop doing it by week five.

That gives the Meta League a total of 14 players, including three who joined the TAGN league in the second week.  I’m not sure how to handle that, so I’ll just put them on the list with everybody else.

  1. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $128,663,687
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $127,686,679
  3. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $126,630,054
  4. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $122,984,620
  5. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $120,561,638
  6. Ocho’s Octoplex (L) – $116,249,626
  7. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $114,819,132
  8. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $114,544,284
  9. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $109,949,827
  10. Wilhelm’s Films from New Eden – $108,581,613
  11. Bel’s House of Horrors (L) – $107,538,981
  12. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $88,233,615
  13. Kraut Screens (T) – $76,668,171
  14. I HAS MOVIES (T) – $61,010,776

SynCaine got the overall win for the week, while I had the second to worst showing among people who picked two or more screens of It.  Four Sunday’s would have been better.  Ah well, I am still in contention in the overall standings I suppose.

  1. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $188,200,652
  2. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $186,777,347
  3. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $181,179,145
  4. Ocho’s Octoplex (L) – $175,283,484
  5. Wilhelm’s Films from New Eden – $172,891,003
  6. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $171,995,192
  7. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $170,020,464
  8. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $166,842,227
  9. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $165,732,393
  10. Bel’s House of Horrors (L) – $156,656,700
  11. I HAS MOVIES (T) – $112,645,868
  12. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $109,949,827
  13. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $88,233,615
  14. Kraut Screens (T) – $76,668,171

I am in second place in two leagues and third place in another, which puts me in fifth place overall.  Corr and SynCaine are in pretty tight contention.  But there are still eleven weeks to go.

All of which brings us to week three, where the choices are:

 It                 $799
 American Assassin  $167
 Mother!            $143
 Home Again         $75
 Hitman's Bodyguard $41
 Annabelle          $32
 Wind River         $27
 Leap!              $25
 Spider-Man         $18
 Dunkirk            $16
 Luck Logan         $14
 Emoji Movie        $10
 Despicable Me 3    $9
 Girls Trip         $7
 Best of the Rest   $7

After a week split into three, It gets consolidated back into a single pick, a single pick so expensive that you can only have one screen of it… one screen and not much else on the other seven.

So we’re back to the usual question of anchors.  It is clearly going to win the box office.  Do you go with that and some mixture of dregs at the bottom of the price list?  Or do you bet on some mist of American Assassin and/or Mother! that might add up to a better total across eight screens.

If It drops by 50%, a common second week situation, it will still bring in over $50 million.  And down at the bottom of the list is the Best of the Rest wild card that will be filled in with the best performing movie not on the list.  That has a tendency to become the best price/performance pick due to it favoring films that over perform estimates.

And speaking of estimates, while last week sites were practically tripping over themselves to give, and then update, box office predictions, this week it is practically crickets. My spreadsheet is useless without something on which to ground my calculations.  And so it goes.