Tag Archives: Winter Movie League

Winter Movie League – A Wild Four Day Ride

With the four day MLK holiday weekend in the US, week seven of the winter Fantasy Movie League was quite a journey.

Any week is a bit of a crap shoot when it comes to picks as you have to find the studio and industry estimates and figure out who is on the ball and who is way off base and craft your selection based on that.  But this week went above and beyond for a few reasons.

To start with, as I noted last week, the pricing was such that you had seven possible anchors out of a list of fifteen movies.  The list of options:

Jumanji              $293
The Post             $210
Paddington 2         $201
Insidious            $179
Proud Mary           $169
The Commuter         $143
Star Wars            $139
The Greatest Showman $132
Pitch Perfect 3      $70
Darkest Hour         $64
Molly's Game         $59
Ferdinand            $58
Coco                 $44
The Shape of Water   $41
Best of the Rest     $41

Then the filler movies were a bit on the pricey side, the gap between the top and bottom of the list being fairly narrow.  So you had to have some care in your pick lest you run out of budget to fill your screens.  Not that you need to fill them all.  The perfect pick the previous week had one empty.  But more than one seems dicey.

Then there were the estimates, which were all over the board.  I mean, they often vary, but this week they seemed to be more varied than usual.  I saw a gap of over $8 million for Jumanji across the sites I check.  But then it was a holiday weekend and some sites were estimating for all four days while others held to just Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, which just added to the mess.

And then there was the loss of the FML Nerd tool, everybody’s favorite lineup utility.  It was replaced by Moovee Picker, which has some upside.  It goes out and gets the weekend estimates from multiple sites, including a couple I did not know about, and puts them on the page for you and lets you weight them or ignore them completely.  But it is a bit quirky and was doing something very wrong in calculating early last week, though that was quickly resolved.  And, advanced though it is, it isn’t quite as clear and straightforward as FML Nerd yet.

Into this I waded, thinking I would eschew the old guard of movies and jump on the bandwagon with new flicks.  Surely The Post or Paddington 2 would deliver over a four day weekend.  Jumanji couldn’t hold on again, could it?

As the estimates started showing up I changed tack and started building up possible picks around an increasingly aged lineup.  As I fiddled with numbers strange selections seemed to keep coming up with as many as three empty screens.  That seemed like crazy talk to me.  It took all I had to leave one screen empty last week, three screens was asking too much.

Meanwhile the estimates seem to be fairly favorable for Star Wars and it seemed quite possible that it would be the best performer of the week, so I started messing around with that as an anchor.  Moovee Picker was telling me to go with seven screens of that and a single empty screen or to run with a screen of Jumanji, five screens of Star Wars, and two empty screens.

More empty screens!

So I was fiddling with various options and had picked six screens of Star Wars and two screens of Pitch Perfect just to see how it looked, then got distracted and forgot to go back and change it to a “real” pick until it was already too late.  So that was that.

My Winter Week Seven Picks and the Perfect Pick

It didn’t turn into a bad pick.  What was odd was what turned into a good pick.  Watching the estimates come it, Jumanji quickly asserted itself as being under valued and looked to be the best performer of the week, making crazy picks like three screens of Jumanji, one screen of Coco, and one screen of Pitch Perfect 3, with three empty screens, viable candidates scoring well above my own picks.  And nobody appeared to have predicted the perfect pick.

Then the final results came in and, in a final surprise twist, The Greatest Showman surged ahead and took the best price/performance title away from Jumanji, throwing the previous perfect pick estimate out the window and turning some of those three empty screen picks back into the crazy they seemed… or at least they were no longer close to winning picks.

The perfect pick for the week turned out to be seven screens of The Greatest Showman and one screen of Pitch Perfect 3, a selection that only 70 people went with for week seven.

Winter Week Seven Perfect Pick

This was the second time The Greatest Showman featured in the perfect pick, as it was also the anchor of choice for week five.

Meanwhile, in the Meta League, picks were all over the map with only two people sharing the same pick.  In the MCats League I was the only one willing to touch Star Wars and ended up in third place there, while in the TAGN League I was down in fifth position, the overall Meta League scores for the week ending up as:

  1. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $113,562,167
  2. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $107,543,193
  3. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $107,354,619
  4. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $105,892,743
  5. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $105,606,834
  6. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $105,147,520
  7. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $102,420,226
  8. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $101,236,413
  9. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $91,155,606
  10. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $89,498,523
  11. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $87,467,774
  12. Kraut Screens (T) – $81,300,678
  13. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $78,487,588
  14. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $78,487,588
  15. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $74,014,283
  16. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $71,506,998
  17. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $71,262,455
  18. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $46,438,006 (did not pick)
  19. The Bean Movie Burrito (T) – $12,696,661 (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)

Except for Ben, who anchored on The Commuter, the split in the league seemed to be between those who bet on older titles and those who went with week seven’s new crop of options, the latter faring poorly as stuffed bears and blaxploitation failed to carry the day.

There were also three people who failed to pick in the TAGN league.  This was the third week for one, which I assume means they have called it quits, so Movies Movies Movies will no longer appear on the list.  The other two will soldier on until such time as they hit that threshold as well.

  1. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $791,984,635
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $781,495,629
  3. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $745,782,776
  4. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $730,683,318
  5. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $718,957,999
  6. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $713,564,058
  7. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $709,656,758
  8. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $692,287,564
  9. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $649,887,439
  10. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $648,420,783
  11. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $631,202,778
  12. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $624,668,871
  13. Kraut Screens (T) – $621,497,319
  14. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $620,635,638
  15. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $611,433,939
  16. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $607,452,721
  17. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $605,523,895
  18. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $560,141,308
  19. The Bean Movie Burrito (T) – $269,262,872

While Ben and Corr stayed locked in combat for the top spot, with Corr gaining no ground this week, the rest of the standings were stirred up a bit.  Pak, in tight contention with Aure and Biyondios last week for third place, did well enough to pull away from his rivals while I, hoping last week to even be in contention for third place, managed to follow Pak up the ladder a bit.

Now we are past the half way point of the season with just six weeks left to go and all the big holiday releases behind us.  Just the grim gray of January and February remain.  Will there be enough action in the box office to allow anybody besides Corr vie with Ben for first place?

The week eight lineup looks like this:

Jumanji              $290
12 Strong            $251
The Post             $209
The Greatest Showman $156
Paddington 2         $110
Den of Thieves       $94
The Commuter         $90
Star Wars            $85
Insidious            $74
Proud Mary           $65
Phantom Thread       $52
Darkest Hour         $47
Pitch Perfect 3      $45
I, Tonya             $40
Coco                 $34

Molly’s Game, Ferdinand, and The Shape of Water all fell off the list as did the Best of the Rest option.

In their place we have new on the screen 12 Strong, Den of Thieves, and Phantom Thread as well as the return of I, Tonya, which ended up being the Best of the Rest filler last week.

But in that list there are no huge stand outs for anchor.  Jumanji remains on top mostly by virtue of nothing else big having come along to cast it down.  12 Strong has Chris Hemsworth, which means we’ll have to at least watch it on video at home at some point, but I am not sure how big of a box office draw the somewhat obscure war story will be.  And after that only The Post and The Greatest Showman seem viable as anchor choices and I don’t really like either for this week.

For the first time since it opened Star Wars is no longer a viable anchor, being too cheap at this point, so it is now an expensive mid-pack filler.

As happened last week, there is no nice cheap $13 fillers if you go overboard on your anchor, so you can go with three screens of Jumanji without leaving a screen empty.  Maybe Den of Thieves will surprise, though they don’t have a big name besides 50 Cent as a draw, while Phantom Thread seems to be more art house Oscar bait than something with significant mass appeal.

And with everybody back at school or back at work, and no holidays in sight save for Valentine’s Day on the horizon, it seems like it will be a weak week at the box office overall.  A good weekend to stay home and binge on Netflix.  I know we have the first season of Outlander to finish up.

Winter Movie League – Insidious Arrival

The sixth week in our Fantasy Movie League was a bit tumultuous.

It was also yest another reminder of how dependent I am on published information to make anything like a good pick.  I have absolutely no “gut” when it comes to making my picks.  Fortunately it looked like the industry was back from their holiday break and eager to report on something besides the fact that Star Wars: The Last Jedi passed the $1 billion world wide revenue mark before the end of 2017.

Of course, first we had to get through a day or two before projections and relevant data became available.

So back at the start of last week my first pick was Jumanji, Downsizing, and six screens of Molly’s GameJumanji looked to be set to win the week in the box office while Molly’s Game was finally expanding to a wider range of theaters.  And Downsizing… well, I had enough budget left to thrown that in and only have $1 remaining.

And then I started playing around with numbers.  Two Jumanji, five Coco, and a blank screen seemed like an option.  Coco seemed to be in the running for best price/performance.  But then Two Star Wars and six Coco… and no blank screen, I hate blank screens… seemed like an even better plan.  The gap between Jumanji and Star Wars didn’t seem like it would be that big.

At that point I only had some long term forecasts from last year to anchor my predictions.

Then the forecasts for the week started coming in and they were all over the board… which is not unusual.  But they seemed to trend towards Jumanji doing better than initially expected, so the gap between it and Star Wars was growing to the point that Jumanji seemed like the better anchor.

Then there was Insidious, the newcomer at the top end for the week.  The long term forecast put it a $20 million or so.  However the new forecasts were really downplaying it, calling it somewhere between $15 and 18 million while Jumanji was up near $33 million.  My spreadsheet calculations… which I had to use because the calculator at FML Nerd hadn’t been updated yet… showed that Insidious needed to get past $22 million to be considered as an anchor.  So back to Jumanji and Coco.

Then word came through that the theater estimates for Molly’s Game and Darkest Hour had been low and, with the expanded numbers, the estimated box office for both had been increased.  That didn’t do much for Molly’s Game in my book, but suddenly Darkest Hour was a better choice than Coco.  Out with Coco in with Darkest Hour.

That sat until Friday morning when the Thursday night preview numbers… which count towards the weekend total… were announced for Insidious and it had done much better than expected.  It seemed to be good for as much as $25 million, at which price point it was a better pick than Jumanji based on my estimates.

So my guess was that Insidious would be the best anchor and Darkest Hour would be the price/performance winner for the week.  Now I just had to get the most of both of them into my pick.  My spreadsheet, the FML Nerd calculator, and Po Huit’s Python tool all said three screens of Insidious and four screens of Darkest Hour, leaving one screen blank.

You cannot argue with command line output

I hate leaving a blank screen, especially when I know the estimates I am basing my pick on are all anchored in quicksand.  They are just somebody’s guesses.  But I figured with my position in the rankings it might be time to take a gamble, so I went with it, leaving a screen blank and accruing the $2 million penalty that goes with it.

Saturday came around, and with it the first updated estimates based on Friday night numbers.  At that point it looked like Insidious was a good choice, but Coco was ranked equal with Darkest Hour.  Since Coco was $2 less per screen, that made it the price/performance choice.  But the Saturday numbers are generally pretty vague and often change come Sunday.

Sure enough, with the Sunday estimate not only had Darkest Hour become the price/performance pick, but my pick… empty screen and all… was looking like the perfect pick for the week.

But nothing is ever final until the real numbers come in on Monday.  I have had the perfect pick over the weekend before only to have the final numbers go a different way.

However, things held on just enough for me to get the perfect pick, a result I shared with 142 other people.

My Winter Week Six Picks and the Perfect Pick

A perfect pick with an empty screen is fairly rare accoding to FML chatter, with it coming up about three times a year on average.

The rest of the Meta League was fairly diverse in its picks, with only pairs of people picking the same line up.  People anchored on Insidious, Jumanji, Star Wars, and Pitch Perfect 3. And while I was the only one with the perfect pick this week, there were some very close picks, so my win didn’t help me pull very far ahead of those behind me or close in on those ahead.  The scores for the week were:

  1. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $123,944,965
  2. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $118,415,470
  3. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $115,116,358
  4. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $113,922,711
  5. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $111,431,498
  6. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $111,252,163
  7. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $111,170,186
  8. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $109,655,310
  9. Kraut Screens (T) – $95,768,377
  10. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $95,759,238
  11. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $79,753,794
  12. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $78,944,993
  13. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $78,944,993
  14. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $77,577,401
  15. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $77,548,306
  16. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $68,623,472
  17. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $66,634,546
  18. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $41,270,846 (did not pick)
  19. The Bean Movie Burrito (T) – $35,036,947 (did not pick)
  20. Movies Movies Movies (T) – $19,426,717 (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)

Unfortunately we had multiple people who forgot to get their picks in on time this week.  Po Huit, The Bean Movie Burrito, and Movies Movies Movies all had to roll over with what they picked previously.  That is tough to bounce back from, though I will say that Liore forgot to pick one week during the Summer league and still ended up winning.  So a come back isn’t impossible, even if it is unlikely.

With the week six scores added in the Meta League rankings look like this:

  1. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $686,377,801
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $676,348,109
  3. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $642,301,603
  4. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $640,470,411
  5. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $638,239,583
  6. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $628,263,092
  7. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $604,819,790
  8. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $596,094,591
  9. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $560,388,916
  10. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $559,085,889
  11. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $546,181,283
  12. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $541,066,164
  13. Kraut Screens (T) – $540,196,641
  14. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $539,926,941
  15. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $529,480,032
  16. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $525,310,035
  17. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $506,216,308
  18. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $486,127,025
  19. Movies Movies Movies (T) – $413,464,979
  20. The Bean Movie Burrito (T) – $256,566,211

Ben remains out in front, but just $10 million ahead of Corr.  Then a ways back is the three-way race for third place with just a $4 million gap spread.  Then there is me simply hoping I can get into contention for third place, after which the pack starts to spread out.

And it will likely spread out some more with the options for week seven:

Jumanji              $293
The Post             $210
Paddington 2         $201
Insidious            $179
Proud Mary           $169
The Commuter         $143
Star Wars            $139
The Greatest Showman $132
Pitch Perfect 3      $70
Darkest Hour         $64
Molly's Game         $59
Ferdinand            $58
Coco                 $44
The Shape of Water   $41
Best of the Rest     $41

We say good-bye to I, Tonya, Wonder, Father Figures, Downsizing, and All the Money in the World  this time around, though one of them could pop up again as the Best of the Rest pick.

This week we get four new releases on the list, The Post, Paddington 2, Proud Mary, and The Commuter.

The Post ought to be a strong challenger, with Spielberg directing and starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks.  But it didn’t win any Golden Globes this past weekend and I can’t help but think I saw this played out in the TV series Lou Grant already.  We shall see.

Paddington 2, the return of the other famous English stuffed bear, this one named after a tube station rather than a bodily function, jumps into a market with a number of other kids titles still hanging about makes this an unlikely pick for me at this end of the week.

And then there is Proud Mary and The Commuter, two action films vying for the audience that is looking for that sort of thing.

All of which are going up against the still strong Jumanji, the second week of the surprisingly popular Insidious, The Greatest Showman, and the lingering threat of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

All seven of those titles want to be your anchor film of the week.

And once you have an anchor you’ll find the low end of your pick constrained by high prices, with the bottom of the list ringing in at $41.  There are not any nice $8-15 picks for filler this time around, so you can’t have all the anchor screens you may want without leaving a screen blank… and that usually doesn’t work out.

Then there is the price range itself, running from $41 to $293, a smallish gap, which does not foretell a big scoring week to my mind.  Then again, it is a four day box office weekend.

Finally, there is a crisis on the tool front, with FML Nerd shutting down.  Not only was it a handy tool, but it started the week off with some baseline estimates with which to start working.  A site called Moovee Picker has emerged however, so I am looking at that.  Still, I am really waiting for the press to roll out their last minute estimates before I lock in my picks for the week.

Winter Movie League – A Great Showman Indeed

Week five of our Fantasy Movie League has passed and we are now into the cold, bleak reality of January.

This was the second four day league weekend in a row and way back at the end of 2017 it sure seemed like the viable anchor choices were either Star Wars: The Last Jedi or Jumanji.  The list of options looked like this:

Star Wars                  $610
Jumanji                    $588
Pitch Perfect 3            $242
The Greatest Showman       $143
Ferdinand                  $131
Coco                       $110
Darkest Hour               $93
The Shape of Water         $73
Downsizing                 $64
Father Figures             $48
All the Money in the World $40
Wonder                     $32
Molly's Game               $21
Best of the Rest           $21
Lady Bird                  $20

The pricing between Star Wars and Jumanji was close enough that I had to go with Star Wars for the week.  Clearly I was still not getting how big of an alternative Jumanji was for people who had already seen, or who had no plans to see, Star Wars.

Once I had chosen my anchor, then it was time to take a stab at what film might get the best price/performance nod.  There were several options down the list, but for some reason I was attracted to Molly’s Game.  It seemed to be on enough screens that it might turn out the way Darkest Hour had done the previous week.  I eschewed Best of the Rest again on the theory that it there is a movie priced below it, then it really isn’t a viable option, and Lady Bird was a buck less.

However, Molly’s Game left me with a lot of extra budget and I hate to leave that on the table.  Theoretically at least spending all of your budget ought to get you the best result, assuming the base pricing estimates were correct.  Of course, they rarely are so the real game is figuring out where they have gone wrong.  But still I took on a couple of screens of The Greatest Showman, which left me with only enough cash left for a screen of Lady Bird.  I spent my entire $1,000.  Go me!

My Winter Week Five Picks

Then came the New Years weekend.  With the coming of the Saturday estimates it looked like Star Wars was the safe choice, but that my other picks were non-starters, unlikely to get any bonus.

On Sunday things changed at it appeared that Jumanji was going to be the winning anchor, while All the Money in the World looked to be headed for the best price performance prize.  That situation remained through Monday and it wasn’t until the final results were in that the real perfect pick showed itself, six screens of The Greatest Showman and two screens of All the Money in the World.

Winter Week Five Perfect Pick

Still, it was a near run thing.  Five people in the Meta League went with Star Wars, The Greatest Showman, and six screens of All the Money in the World and ended up less than $6 million behind the perfect pick, which bestows a $5 million bonus.  The results for the week looked like this:

  1. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $143,009,764
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $143,009,764
  3. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $143,009,764
  4. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $143,009,764
  5. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $143,009,764
  6. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $122,968,439
  7. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $122,968,439
  8. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $122,968,439
  9. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $122,968,439
  10. Kraut Screens (T) – $118,937,726
  11. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $116,784,975
  12. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $116,784,975
  13. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $113,254,882
  14. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $109,607,034
  15. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $104,277,319
  16. The Bean Movie Burrito (T) – $101,516,622
  17. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $99,835,373
  18. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $97,874,819
  19. Movies Movies Movies (T) – $69,413,601 (Did not pick)
  20. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $52,813,601 (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)

Those five did very well this week even without the perfect pick, with Ben holding on to his overall lead in the Meta League.  My own pick was popular, with four of us in on it, plus variations on it that had Best of the Rest in place of Molly’s Game, which seemed like a coin toss choice to some, adding another pair.

Only one person did not anchor on Star Wars, Kraut Screens, and they secured a reasonable mid-pack finish going with Pitch Perfect 3 with four screens of The Greatest Showman helping them along.

And then we had two players who forgot to pick and who found out that, unlike other titles, Best of the Rest does not roll over automatically from week to week.  So Liore had only Star Wars and a $14 million empty screens penalty while Movies Movies Movies had Star Wars and Ferdinand and a $12 million penalty.

All of which left the overall Meta League scores looking like this:

  1. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $576,722,491
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $561,231,751
  3. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $531,131,417
  4. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $529,218,248
  5. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $524,316,872
  6. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $518,517,190
  7. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $504,318,127
  8. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $499,795,318
  9. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $493,754,370
  10. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $493,388,292
  11. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $481,537,583
  12. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $467,236,290
  13. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $460,173,147
  14. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $450,535,039
  15. Kraut Screens (T) – $444,428,264
  16. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $437,592,836
  17. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $429,550,797
  18. Movies Movies Movies (T) – $394,038,262
  19. The Bean Movie Burrito (T) – $221,529,264
  20. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $367,711,555

Five weeks in and Ben has a solid, if not insurmountable, lead versus nearly everybody save for Corr.

The problem with catching up at this point is that the big holiday weekends are now behind us.  Will this first, grim week of January be a bust?  The lineup looks like this:

Jumanji                    $369
Star Wars                  $336
Insidious                  $262
The Greatest Showman       $143 
Pitch Perfect 3            $126 
Molly's Game               $100 
Ferdinand                  $81 
I, Tonya                   $56
Darkest Hour               $52 
Coco                       $50
All the Money in the World $48
The Shape of Water         $32
Downsizing                 $30 
Father Figures             $28
Wonder                     $24

It seems to be the week that Star Wars will be dethroned, but what else looks good on this list?  There are only two new options on the list this week as we finally shed Lady Bird and have no need for a Best of the Rest option.

The first new pick is Insidious: The Last Key, the fourth installment in a horror franchise I had not even heard of up until now.  But the previous three seemed to do well enough in the box office previously to warrant a fourth entry.  However, isn’t facing the first week of the new year horror enough?

And then there is I, Tonya.  As much as I love America’s trailer park sweetheart from the 90s, I am not sure how much nostalgia there really is, comedic or otherwise, for reliving the battle of wounded knee.  After all, we already had Attack of the 5 ft. 2 in. Woman on Showtime more than 20 years back and all the cultural references along the way, from Seinfeld to The Simpsons.  Also, Margot Robbie is too tall to play Tonya.  She lacks the menace of that compact, muscular Mary Lou Retton frame that Tonya had.  But that might be my personal baggage.

So Jumanji seems like the safe anchor for the week.  You can get a two screens of that with plenty of room for filler.  And, with the way the holidays rolled out, a lot of kids are still out of school this week, and they’ve probably all seen Star Wars by this point.  Maybe Coco would be a good filler pick?  And what about Molly’s Game?  Is the Aaron Sorkin dialog good enough to be worth the price?  It is going into wide release this weekend.

Winter Movie League – Darkest Jumanji

The big four day Christmas weekend has come and gone for the winter season of our Fantasy Movie League.

The question of the week was really whether or not Star Wars: The Last Jedi would prevail as the best anchor choice or if one of the week’s new arrivals would take that spot. The options for the week were:

Star Wars                  $815
Jumanji                    $275
Pitch Perfect 3            $251
The Greatest Showman       $110
Downsizing                 $72
Ferdinand                   $67
Father Figures             $54
Coco                       $51
All the Money in the World $31
Wonder                     $28
Justice League             $17
Daddy's Home 2             $20
The Shape of Water         $23
Darkest Hour               $16
Best of the Rest           $15

It was a given that Star Wars would rule the four day box office, but pricing would allow players to pick but a single screen of that.  The other likely anchors, Jumanji and Pitch Perfect 3, were both good for three screens.  Would three screens of either beat out one screen of Star Wars?

I went back and forth on that through the week.  Star Wars seemed like the safe play.  Pitch Perfect 3 was capping out the marketing side of the equation by a fair margin.  And then Jumanji, which opened early in the week, seemed to be coming on strong.  As the deadline for picks closed in I opted for safety and went with Star Wars as my anchor.

Meanwhile it was clear by Thursday that the pricing for Darkest Hour was really low and it seemed likely to be the price/performer of the week, so my initial inclination to pick Best of the Rest fell by the wayside.  There was still a fair amount of budget left behind so I put a screen of Downsizing in the mix since that seemed likely to do better than Darkest Hour, even with the bonus.  So my screens looked like this.

My Winter Week Four Picks

I settled on that with about 20 minute left before picks were locked.  And then it was time to see what the weekend would bring.

Saturday looked good, with Star Wars estimates marking it as the winning anchor.  However, I do not call it the “Saturday of false hope” for nothing.  Reality has often changed radically between the Saturday morning estimates and the final score.

Sure enough, come Sunday the balance had tipped in favor of Jumanji.  Star Wars was still strong, but not strong enough, and Pitch Perfect 3 faded and did not come close to being a viable anchor in the end.

The perfect pick for the week ended up being three screens of Jumanji, one screen of Greatest Showman, and four screens of Darkest Hour, a select worth about $191 $215 million.

Winter Week Four Perfect Pick

Nobody in the Meta League picked that.  Most of us anchored on Star Wars, so the four who anchored on Jumanji led the way.  The scores settled out like this:

  1. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M)$186,810,116
  2. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M)$186,810,116
  3. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T)$186,736,142
  4. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T)$171,511,156
  5. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $154,230,311
  6. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $154,230,311
  7. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $151,781,915
  8. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $146,964,536
  9. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $146,964,536
  10. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $120,913,670
  11. The Bean Movie Burrito (T) – $120,612,642
  12. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $120,243,581
  13. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $119,841,779
  14. Movies Movies Movies (T) – $118,023,711
  15. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $117,892,261
  16. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $117,668,287
  17. Kraut Screens (T) – $116,225,055
  18. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $113,081,211
  19. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $110,925,055
  20. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $109,357,237

Meta League Legend

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

Aure got the win for the MCats league while Pak got is for the TAGN league.

Those numbers are not “official” because the Jumanji numbers are still estimates at this point.  Hollywood is mostly off this week, so some numbers take time.  But I can’t wait any longer so that is what I am reporting for now.  I doubt anybody will change in the lineup once the final numbers are in unless Jumanji is way over-estimated.

UPDATE: The final numbers for Jumanji are in and it did even better than estimated.  The ranking above reflects the final numbers.

We also have one new person in the TAGN league as of week 4, making the Meta League a total of 20 in size.

The stratification was those who went with Jumanji at the top, followed by those who went for Star Wars and Darkest hour, in turn followed by those who went with Star Wars and something besides Darkest Hour.  Nobody went with Pitch Perfect 3.

That left the overall Meta League rankings at the end of week four looking like:

  1. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M)$433,712,727
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $418,221,987
  3. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M)$408,162,978
  4. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T)$401,732,215
  5. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T)$401,348,433
  6. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $386,208,484
  7. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $383,010,343
  8. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $381,349,688
  9. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $380,133,410
  10. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $355,895,828
  11. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $351,494,606
  12. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $344,267,851
  13. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $341,678,005
  14. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $338,997,819
  15. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $338,357,463
  16. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $331,395,978
  17. Kraut Screens (T) – $325,810,538
  18. Movies Movies Movies (T) – $324,614,661
  19. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $315,947,954
  20. The Bean Movie Burrito (T) – $120,612,642

The Jumanji gap and the bonus from Darkest Hour was enough to shake up the rankings a bit.  It wasn’t enough to shake Corr from the top of the tree however.

UPDATE: Jumanji final numbers shook up the overall ranking putting Ben out front.  The ranking above has been updated.

And now we are off to week five.  Star Wars still looks like a strong anchor while Jumanji looks to be getting punished a bit for exceeding expectations so much in week four.  Likewise for Darkest Hour.  The options for week five are:

Star Wars                  $610
Jumanji                    $588
Pitch Perfect 3            $242
The Greatest Showman       $143
Ferdinand                  $131
Coco                       $110
Darkest Hour               $93
The Shape of Water         $73
Downsizing                 $64
Father Figures             $48
All the Money in the World $40
Wonder                     $32
Molly's Game               $21
Best of the Rest           $21
Lady Bird                  $20

Justice League and Daddy’s Home 2 both fell off the list this week, the latter meaning SynCaine will have to find something else to pick to fill out his screens.  They were replaced by Molly’s Game and Lady Bird, which returns to the list at an odd $20 price, below the Best of the Rest pick. I’m not sure how that works out, but there it is.

The conservative streak in me at this point says Star Wars all the way as an anchor, but I know my mind has been changed on picks as late as Friday morning.  Still, the weekend estimate seems low.  My own informal polling over the holiday weekend ended up with most people I spoke to having not seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi yet but were planning to see it.  However this is also a dead week, so there was opportunity to see if before the weekend.  We shall see.

Winter Movie League – Jedi Triumphant

The week we had all been waiting for finally arrived for out Winter Fantasy Movie League run.

The Star Wars: The Last Jedi premier weekend promised to be a high rolling weekend for totals.  The options for the week were as follows:

Star Wars - Friday           $823
Star Wars - Saturday         $501
Star Wars - Sunday           $422
Ferdinand                    $157
Coco                         $90
Wonder                       $40
Justice League               $35
The Disaster Artist          $45
Thor: Ragnarok               $25
Daddy's Home 2               $25
Murder on the Orient Express $21
Lady Bird                    $19
The Shape of Water           $18
The Star                     $17
Three Billboards             $14

As expected, Star Wars was split into three days to keep other movie picks viable.  But at that pricing and with the initial estimates the only viable anchor outside of Star Wars seemed to be Ferdinand.

Initially pegged to hit as much as $25 million on its opening weekend, Ferdinand was priced such that it was the obvious pick… if you believed that estimate.  I wasn’t buying it and my skepticism was reinforced by an decline in the estimates for the picture as the week went on.

At least when sites could be bothered to pay Ferdinand a moments notice.  That annoyance of the week was mostly the inability to get much news about other possible pictures in light of all the focus on Star Wars.

My initial, Monday afternoon at 5pm pick was two screens of Sunday Star Wars and six screens of Thor, a selection I did not budge from until Friday morning.  I have long harbored the bias that Friday was a sucker’s play, and the pricing for Friday for Star Wars did little to assuage that feeling.

Then on Friday morning I saw the Thursday night preview numbers come in for Star Wars.  The 7pm to midnight run of the movie brought in about $45 million.

As we learned previously, Thursday night preview numbers get added into the Friday total for FML, so Star Wars was going into Friday, its first full day, with $45 million on the books.  That was enough to get me to change my picks with less than an hour to go.

But then what should the filler be?  I could see that seven screens of Thor or Daddy’s Home 2 would be easy enough.  Biased against the latter, I went with Thor.  And then, seeing how much of my budget was left, I ended up injecting Justice League and The Star into the mix at the cost of two screens of Thor.

My Winter Week Three Picks

That was where I sat when time ran out and the picks were locked.

Then it was time to contend with FML.

For some reason they decided to update their user interface on the biggest week of the season, changing up how information was presented to the user and hiding away something that used to be easy to see; the picks of others.

You could still click on individuals to see what they picked for the week, but previously if would show the whole league listing for the week with all the picks.

That issue got addressed when they put in the first weekend estimates on Saturday morning, but that still left a 24 hour gap where you couldn’t easily eyeball your league’s pick as a whole.  I hope they will fix that before the coming week.  That is the first thing I like to do when the picks get locked, check to see what everybody went with.

And then there was the point in time when they updated the estimates and somebody keyed in $54 million instead of $5.4 million for Wonder and the rankings were suddenly upended.

Things did settle down though and as the results were updated it looked like anchoring on Friday might have been the best call.  My secondary picks however… not so much.  Seven screens of Daddy’s Home 2 were the winning add ons to the Friday anchor, the Perfect pick, which one of the Meta League players got.

Winter Week Three Perfect Pick

So the Meta League scores for the week looked like this come the final numbers:

  1. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $150,374,259
  2. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $126,618,403
  3. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $126,391,492
  4. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $122,295,706
  5. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $122,200,948
  6. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $121,527,861
  7. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $121,260,528
  8. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $119,959,574
  9. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $119,841,499
  10. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $117,530,074
  11. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $117,514,309
  12. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $113,954,953
  13. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $113,556,221
  14. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $113,556,221
  15. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $111,856,907
  16. Kraut Screens (T) – $108,270,492
  17. Movies Movies Movies (T) – $100,930,447
  18. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $92,035,164
  19. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $92,035,164

Meta League Legend

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

At the top end was Corr with the perfect pick, with Elly in second place with what was my second to last pick… and then I decided I was leaving too much of my budget behind so swapped it out.  That put me in third.

After Corr the top half of the pack was pretty tight, with less that a $10 million gap.  There were a couple of empty screen gambles in that group, including Po Huit, who left two screens unfilled for his pick.

Then things start to tail off.  Overall the rankings followed the general pattern of Friday, then Saturday & Sunday, then Sunday & Sunday, then Saturday only, and finally SynCaine and Liore who both went all-in on Ferdinand.

That led to some changes in the overall season ranking.

  1. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $263,991,676
  2. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $246,902,611
  3. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $239,243,948
  4. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $236,054,049
  5. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $236,045,807
  6. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $234,910,614
  7. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $233,602,345
  8. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $230,221,059
  9. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $229,567,773
  10. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $225,903,099
  11. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $221,434,424
  12. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $221,352,862
  13. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $220,689,176
  14. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $218,314,767
  15. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $218,084,149
  16. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $214,612,291
  17. Kraut Screens (T) – $209,585,483
  18. Movies Movies Movies (T) – $206,590,950
  19. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $205,022,899

Corr’s perfect pick was enough to move him from 7th to 1st place overall in the Meta League, pushing ahead of Ben.  On the flip side, SynCaine’s opting for Ferdinand dropped him from 2nd to 14th spot on the list.  My betting on Friday was able to get me from 15th to 9th position, but the pack is still pretty tight.  Corr does not yet have anything like an unassailable lead and a good or bad week for people could still shake up the ordering quite a bit.

Which brings us to week four, the Christmas Holiday weekend which includes Monday in the results.  The options are:

Star Wars                  $815
Jumanji                    $275
Pitch Perfect 3            $251
The Greatest Showman       $110
Downsizing                 $72
Ferdinand                   $67
Father Figures             $54
Coco                       $51
All the Money in the World $31
Wonder                     $28
Justice League             $17
Daddy's Home 2             $20
The Shape of Water         $23
Darkest Hour               $16
Best of the Rest           $15

Star Wars sits at the top again, priced so you can only have one screen of that and some low priced filler.  Is the force that powerful?  I think it might well be and my Monday evening gut pick was anchored on it.  It did an all time top ten Monday take this week scoring $21 million.  Maybe I was sensing that.

But if you’re feeling a disturbance in the force, there are other plays available.  This coming weekend sees a lot of new titles showing up looking to cash in on holiday magic and vacation time.  Jumanji, Pitch Perfect 3, The Greatest Showman, Downsizing, Father Figures, and All the Money in the World are new this week.

Meanwhile The Star, Three Billboards, Murder on the Orient Express, Lady Bird, The Disaster Artist, and Thor: Ragnarok have all fallen off as options.  Having The Star go missing this week is a bit ironic I suppose.

Then there are the lingering few.  I clearly do not understand the movie going world if Daddy’s Home 2 is not only still on the list, but not even at the bottom yet.  Ferdinand and Coco also seem poised to pick up some kids out of school business.

And then there is the wild card, with Best of the Rest appearing on the picks for $15.  That means whatever other movie out there performs the best will take that spot.  Historically that play seems more likely than not to be the best/price performer since it rewards any film that exceeds a certain amount.  This could be the way The Star works itself back on the list.  A $2 million showing for it would make it viable.

So you have to ask yourself, is this going to be a Star Wars Christmas or not?

Winter Movie League – Not Getting Started

Week two of our Winter Fantasy Movie League is now in the can, so to speak, so it is time to see how we did.

It wasn’t expected to be a huge week.  It is in the awkward gap holiday vacation gap when everybody is still at work or in school and the looming anxiety of holiday shopping is starting to grip.  And there wasn’t exactly any big new titles hitting the screens, as the options for the week show.

Coco                         $390
Justice League               $177 
Wonder                       $169
Just Getting Started         $152
The Disaster Artist          $150
Thor: Ragnarok               $126 
Daddy's Home 2               $95 
Murder on the Orient Express $88
Lady Bird                    $73
Three Billboards             $68
The Star                     $58
Bad Moms Christmas           $47
The Shape of Water           $34
Roman J. Israel, Esq.        $20
Darkest Hour                 $13

The biggest new item was Just Getting Started, the buddy comedy vehicle for Morgan Freeman and Tommy Lee Jones.  I was upbeat on the concept in my last post, but at that point I knew next to nothing about the film itself, which likely should have been a red flag.  It seems nobody else knew much either.

At its initial box office estimate of $8.5 million it was a contender that could have been somebody.  By mid-week estimates were at $6 million and when Variety pegged it at an astute-in-hindsight $3.3 million, along with a scathing “why bother making such junk?” review, I abandoned any idea of going that route.  It went from interesting wild card to dead man walking.

But what did that leave me with?  A pile of the same old films from past weeks.  Sure, The Disaster Artists was now in wider release, but suffered from the “last week’s best price/performer” punishment and seemed unlikely to be a path to victory.  And my gut said that Wonder might be played out at this point.

So it was just a question of what combo to anchor on, and there were a lot of possible variations with Coco, Justice League, and Thor.  In the end I played what felt like a conservative hand for anchor, running two screens of Coco and one of Thor, with a screen of Roman J. Israel, and four screens of Darkest Hour, hoping that the latter would break out just enough to give it the price/performance bonus.  It didn’t have to stretch very far, but it was also still in limited release.

My Winter Week Two Picks

I didn’t think I was going to win the week with that pick, but I had no feeling for what might be better and this seemed like it would at least keep me from falling too far behind.  When the picks were locked on Friday morning there was quite a bit of variety across the Meta League.  The scores however ended up like last week, with no huge gap between mid-pack and either end of the list.

  1. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $54,356,001
  2. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $52,999,628
  3. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $52,405,846
  4. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $49,983,148
  5. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $49,818,955
  6. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $49,818,955
  7. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $49,818,955
  8. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $49,818,955
  9. Kraut Screens (T) – $47,441,559
  10. Movies Movies Movies (T) – $47,351,440
  11. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $47,013,296
  12. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $46,977,958
  13. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $46,977,958
  14. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $46,977,958
  15. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $46,264,589
  16. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $45,529,490
  17. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $45,046,091
  18. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $43,360,350
  19. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $42,390,697

Meta League Legend

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

SynCaine seems to be on a streak, winning his second week in a row in the TAGN league, while Ben from the MCats league was out in front for the week overall.  Those out front anchored on Justice League, those of us who were in on Coco this week were further down the list, while those who thought that lightening would strike again for The Disaster Artist were at the back of the pack.

We had four people in on the same pick this week, two from each league, with 7x Thor and 1x Daddy’s Home 2 being the popular pick.

Nobody in the Meta League managed to get the perfect pick for the week, which was Coco, Justice League, Thor and five screens of The Star, a selection worth $67,923,421 with bonuses.

Winter Week Two Perfect Pick

The overall Meta League scores now stands at:

  1. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $126,943,037
  2. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $126,279,603
  3. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $122,497,828
  4. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $116,948,242
  5. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $116,204,308
  6. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $116,072,271
  7. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $113,617,417
  8. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $112,987,735
  9. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $112,346,878
  10. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $108,292,211
  11. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $108,020,111
  12. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $106,734,223
  13. Movies Movies Movies (T) – $105,660,503
  14. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $103,838,553
  15. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $103,176,281
  16. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $102,755,384
  17. Kraut Screens (T) – $101,314,991
  18. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $100,173,896
  19. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $96,556,288

SynCaine is holding his own as a solid second place as first place changes hands with Logan dropping to third and Ben popping up into first.  Meanwhile I am way down the line in 15th position and in need of a strong week to catch up.

And so ends week two, leading into the first big week of the season with the opening of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.  The selections for week three are:

Star Wars - Friday           $823
Star Wars - Saturday         $501
Star Wars - Sunday           $422
Ferdinand                    $157
Coco                         $90
Wonder                       $40
Justice League               $35
The Disaster Artist          $45
Thor: Ragnarok               $25
Daddy's Home 2               $25
Murder on the Orient Express $21
Lady Bird                    $19
The Shape of Water           $18
The Star                     $17
Three Billboards             $14

Naturally enough Star Wars, divided into three days, dominates the list.  Also new to the selections is Ferdinand, while four titles dropped off; Roman J. Israel, Esq, Darkest Hour, Bad Moms Christmas, and the dismal Just Getting Started.

In addition to the usual issue of exactly which day of Star Wars will be optimal… you can have Friday, or you can have Saturday and Sunday, or a pair of Sundays… there is the wildcard that is Ferdinand this week.

Last week Box Office Pro was estimating $25 million for its opening three day weekend.  Priced at a mere $157 for the week, six screens of Ferdinand could be a very viable alternative to Star Wars… if it gets close to that estimate… and if Star Wars does not exceed its estimates on any of the three days.

On the other hand, if Ferdinand drops south of $20 million, Star Wars is the only viable anchor unless there is a considerable disturbance in the force.  You just have to pick your day or days.

My Monday at 5pm first run gut pick was two screens of Star Wars on Sunday and six screens of Thor to fill in the rest, but even now I doubt I will stick with that.  Saturday and Sunday seems like a better plan now… we shall see.

Winter Movie League – Slow Start

The Winter edition of the Fantasy Movie League kicked off this past weekend.

The TAGN League got a boost in numbers with the coming of the winter season, jumping from seven players to an even dozen.

It was, however, a bit of a mixed start for some of us.  Well, at least for me.

Of course, it was predestined to be a slow week, wedged in between the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and with few new titles showing up.  And those new titles that made the list were all in limited release.  How big of a box office can a new Woody Allen film expect when it is only showing on five screens?

The lineup of options looked like this:

Coco                           $417 
Justice League                 $280 
Wonder                         $230 
Thor: Ragnarok                 $134 
Murder on the Orient Express   $132
Daddy's Home 2                 $126
Three Billboards               $74 
Lady Bird                      $66 
The Star                       $60 
Bad Moms Christmas             $44 
Roman J. Israel, Esq.          $36
The Man Who Invented Christmas $14 
The Disaster Artist            $13
Call Me By Your Name           $8
Wonder Wheel                   $6

The question was, as always, how to spend your budget, fill out your screens, and end up with the maximum revenue.  The options were many this week though, and the revenue projections a bit desultory.  It is like the industry doesn’t care so much about slow weeks.

I went around and around on what to anchor on, and I think I setup variations on all of the likely suspects.  Coco was expensive, but sure to lead the box office.  Justice League still had me doubting.  Seven screens of Thor and one filler seemed like an option.  And then there were those limited engagement titles, The Disaster Artist, Call Me By Your Name, and Wonder Wheel.  With low prices, small screen counts, and conservative revenue expectations any one of them might have popped up and become the price/performer of the week.

Then again, they might not.

In the end I decided to go with what felt like a somewhat conservative pick.  I didn’t gamble on any of the limited screen wild cards and stuck with titles in the middle of the pack.  I anchored on two screens of Wonder, which seemed like they would do at least as well as one screen of Coco, a screen of Thor, and five screens of Three Billboards, the latter expanding to more screens for the week and getting good reviews.

My Winter Week One Picks

Things did not roll my way however.  Two screens of Wonder ended up being worth less than a single screen of Coco, Thor fell just short of ten million, and Three Billboards did not deliver the five million I was hoping it might, and was nowhere close to being the best price/performer.

Instead the perfect pick for the week was Coco, four screens of Thor, and three screens of The Disaster Artist, the later being the best price/performer of the week, a selection worth $81,711,083.

Winter Week One Perfect Pick

359 people got the perfect pick this week.  Fortunately for me, none of them were in the Meta League.  The scores for the Meta League shook out as follows:

  1. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $75,519,870
  2. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $73,279,975
  3. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $72,587,036
  4. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $67,129,287
  5. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $66,253,316
  6. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $65,368,920
  7. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – (T) $63,798,462
  8. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $63,798,462
  9. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $63,168,780
  10. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $62,974,020
  11. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $60,469,634
  12. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $60,364,687
  13. Movies Movies Movies (T) – $58,309,063
  14. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $58,309,063
  15. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $58,309,063
  16. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $56,162,985
  17. Kraut Screens (T) – $53,873,432
  18. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $53,195,938
  19. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $53,195,938
  • TAGN Movie Obsession – players from it marked with a (T)
  • MCats Multiplex – players from it marked with an (M)

So the Meta League grew to 19, from 13 last season, with five new players in the TAGN League and Liore returning to MCats.  That is good, though it means I need to collate a longer list each week, so more room for mistakes.  Expect more mystery asterisks and such.

Logan came out on top for the week, no doubt a good feeling after ending up last season in the back half of the pack, though SynCaine, who topped the TAGN League, was not far behind.  Logan anchored on two screens of Coco while SynCaine was all-in on Thor.

I was way down the list, coming in at 16th.  However, I take heart in the fact that it was something of a slow week and the gap between myself and Logan is under $20 million, not an unreasonable gap, and the overall gap between first and last was $27 million, not an insurmountable distance this early in the season.

Still, this is not a time for complacency.  The weeks roll by and if you don’t close the gap you’re done.

We have one more week to go before Star Wars: The Last Jedi and the holiday break brings down big box office numbers upon us.  The choices for week two are:

Coco                         $390
Justice League               $177 
Wonder                       $169
Just Getting Started         $152
The Disaster Artist          $150
Thor: Ragnarok               $126 
Daddy's Home 2               $95 
Murder on the Orient Express $88
Lady Bird                    $73
Three Billboards             $68
The Star                     $58
Bad Moms Christmas           $47
The Shape of Water           $34
Roman J. Israel, Esq.        $20
Darkest Hour                 $13

 

Pricing did not change dramatically in most cases.  Coco is still expected to be the top in the box office with Justice League and Wonder trailing behind.

Three films fell off the list, The Man Who Invented Christmas, Call Me By Your Name, and Wonder Wheel.  They were replaced by Just Getting Started, The Shape of Water, and Darkest Hour, the latter two in limited release.

That leaves a lot of options for the week, with any of the top six films potentially serving as an anchor, with the mix being anything from one screen of Coco to seven screens of Thor and everything in between.  Four of those six are probably predictable in their results, with The Disaster Artist, now in wider release and with good reviews, and Just Getting Started, with Morgan Freeman, Tommy Lee Jones, and Renee Russo on the poster, being the wild cards.

My gut says that The Disaster Artist, being a film about making another specific film, might be a bit too inside-baseball to be a runaway success, but at its price it is worth considering.

Meanwhile Just Getting Started sounds like another contentious buddy comedy where opposites have to put their differences aside in order to survive, ala The Hitman’s Bodyguard.  Basically  The Mob Lawyer’s Bodyguard, if I were to give it a new title.  Still, it is a formula that has worked over and over again.  The question is, are we talking Beverly Hills Cop or The Last Boy Scout here?

(I had to search for an action buddy movie that failed to gross more than budget for that comparison.  It is a very successful story structure.  Even some titles I remember being bad were modestly successful.)

Anyway, one last week before Star Wars: The Last Jedi dominates our picks.