## UPDATE 9/18 ~8:30a Pacific Below

## UPDATE 9/17 ~10:30a Pacific Below

The blockbuster returns this week with the release of the second film in the “Maze Runner” series and with it we also see smaller pricing on the lower end of the fifteen films on our list of choices. At FB$627 “Maze Runner” has the highest price of any film since “Minions” cost FB$854 back in Week 8 of the Summer season and with “Ant-Man” at FB$16 we have our lowest priced film since “Pixels” cost the same during Week 14.

## Estimate Comparator Improvements

A shout out of thanks to Billion Dollar Cineplex for finding an important bug that was not properly considering screen combinations that used exactly FB$1000. That’ll teach me to use a < when I really need a <= in a conditional. That has been fixed with the data set this week.

Try it out yourself:

## Best Performer Analysis

As I do every week, if you plug in the numbers from the ProBoxOffice.com Weekend Forecast and use a thumbnail 40% drop for every film we can choose from this week that isn’t on that list, you get the following table:

A couple things jump out here. First, “Black Mass” is priced nicely and if you read the pros/cons for it on that weekend forecast, it has some things about it that indicate the ProBoxOffice.com estimate might be low. Next, there are a lot of thumbnail films in this table. The ProBoxOffice.com forecast contained only 9 of our 15 choices this week and, as always, look at those with a skeptical eye.

Lastly, the absence of “Maze Runner” on this list is significant. The way the math works out on the sliders, “Black Mass” would have to bring in 20% less than its forecast (around $28M) and “Maze Runner” bring in roughly $45M before it makes sense to spend FB$627 and even then it would still have to compete with “War Room” for Best Performer. Throw in the fact that it is a film with a following, so it is likely to have a high Thursday night number that might not be indicative of how it will do the rest of the weekend and it’s a tough call to use “Maze Runner”.

## Fantasy Movie League Week 3 Picks

This week I’m going to try something a little different in response to some very valid criticisms in the forums that I was likely contributing to the lack of variety in submitted screen combinations both with this column and with the Estimate Comparator. So instead of making a pick here, I’m going to suggest several based on possible outcomes you can test yourself in the Estimate Comparator. I generated this list by automating some of the variances with an additional program I wrote and ran on my laptop with the same data that the Estimate Comparator uses to vary the top eight Best Performer candidates +10 to -20% of each films estimate for this week. If you’re interested in the nerdy math, I’ve added a new page to my blog explaining what I did:

https://fmlnerd.com/automating-the-estimate-comparator/

The safest combination this week is:

Out of the 6561 variation simulations I ran, this one won the week 23.7% of the time. But as it turns out, that isn’t the combination that comes up with all the default estimates in place. This one is, which won the next most at 16.8% of the time:

The difference between the two largely rests on what you think about “Black Mass” vs “War Room” in the race for Best Performer. If “War Room” isn’t quite as big but “Mission Impossible” does well, these three combinations of 2x “Black Mass” and at least 3x “Mission Impossible” are worth considering and add up to 15.4% of the wins:

Finally, if “A Walk in the Woods” rebounds one of these pairs could make sense, adding up to 12.7% of the wins:

As a wild card, if you believe in “Maze Runner” despite the math above and think something extraordinary could happen with it, some combination of it plus 4x “War Room” would make sense.

## What to Look for Friday Morning

As mentioned previously, “Maze Runner” Thursday numbers are going to be hard to interpret. Using “Ant-Man” as a comparable, if the “Maze Runner” Thursday number is near $5M then it could be headed for a $45M weekend but combine that with fan reviews because it could just as easily be like “Paper Towns” and have poor fan word of mouth to bring in only $33M on that same $5M Thursday.

The safer number to look for is for “Black Mass” whose forecast suggests a Thursday range between $1.7M and $2.72M. If it is below that range, the first combination that uses it once seems like a good play but if it is closer to the top of that range, one of the scenarios that use it twice would be wiser.

## UPDATE 9/17 ~10:30a Pacific

As was pointed out in the comments by Ari, I mistakenly gave “No Escape” a price of FB$34 when instead it should have been $FB22. The Estimate Comparator has been updated, but this correction makes a difference in the analysis as well which I’ll address here without fancy pictures.

With this data fix, the safest combination remains the same (23.2% of the wins) but the second one (and the one that is best if the estimates are all correct) is now 2x “Black Mass” + 3x “War Room” + 2x “No Escape” + “Man from UNCLE” with 14.89% of the wins.

“Mission Impossible” combinations now become less attractive in favor of “No Escape” combinations. From the new 6561 variation simulations, here are the next most favorable choices:

- 9.95% – 2x “Black Mass” + 3x “War Room” + 2x “Transporter Refueled” + “Ant-Man”
- 7.42% – 2x “Black Mass” + 5x “A Walk in the Woods”
- 6.90% – 2x “Black Mass” + 3x “War Room” + 2x “No Escape” + “Ant-Man”
- 4.88% – 2x “Black Mass” + 2x “War Room” + 3x “Mission Impossible” + “No Escape”
- 4.19% – 2x “Black Mass” + 2x “War Room” + 4x “No Escape”

So of those 7 combinations to consider you have to decide if you think “Black Mass” will be worth more than one slot (highly likely) and after that what you think about “War Room” vs “No Escape” vs “A Walk in the Woods”.

Sorry again for the error and thanks again to Ari for bringing it to my attention.

## UPDATE 9/18 ~8:30a Pacific

“Black Mass” brought in $1.4M last night according to ProBoxOffice.com, putting it below the low end of the range I predicted yesterday. If you think “Black Mass” is more oriented towards adults, you could justify putting it on two screens and chalk up that lower number to GenXers and older not wanting to go out on a Thursday night. “Maze Runner” didn’t bring in huge numbers, making it a tougher choice to lead a line up.

Hi! You incorrectly have No Escape listed at $34 instead of $22, which is why it’s a much more attractive play not listed in your options

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Hi Ari,

Thank you so much for catching my mistake. It makes a pretty big difference. The comparator has been updated and I’m now looking again at different combinations.

—Pete

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Analysis update posted

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