I was really into the first season of “Survivor”. Like in a really unhealthy, reading TelevisionWithoutPity for several hours every day kind of way. Then some hacker figured out that every ousted contestant had a version of their official CBS headshot with an X on it as did several contestants that had yet to be ousted. Every contestant except one: Gervase Petersen.
And so the Gervase X theory was born and held true for several weeks. Only then he got voted off the island and it was revealed that CBS planted the hack data on purpose, going to the extent of digitally altering preview footage to keep it all from appearing as if Gervase would win. That was the last time I was “Holy crap!” surprised by a production team.
The Mockingjay Split
I had this really clever post planned where I was going to juxtapose quotes from Nate Silver and Charlie Brown to explain the poor performance of my model the past two weeks, but then my eyes didn’t understand what they were looking at 5:05 pm Pacific time on Monday. What followed was the predictable “That’s so unfair”/”Ask for your money back” banter in the forums, but after thinking about it awhile I started a thread that sought to make some sense what the development meant from a mathematical perspective that calculated this:
Based on the pricing, the FML team thinks that Mockingjay’s Friday, Saturday, and Sunday will be a 43.99%, 33.22%, 22.78% split. If that assumption is correct, all three screens will have the same value. The only way it makes sense to play one of the days above the others is if that split is different than what the FML team thinks it will be. The rest of the table shows how the individual “Hunger Games” films did on each opening weekend day with data from BoxOfficeMojo. Then there are rows for the average of all three films followed by one of just the last two films.
Week 12 Perfect Combo Probabilities
Why the last two films only? Unlike the first film, the two sequels both opened on the weekend prior to Thanksgiving their year of release and are seemingly a better comparison. I used the two film average when putting ProBoxOffice.com and ShowBuzzDaily forecasts into my model this week.
With all the hype over “Mockingjay”, though, the most important decision you have to make this week involves “Spotlight”, which adds 537 theaters this week in a release strategy reminiscent of “Mr. Holmes” this past summer. Last weekend, in just 61 theaters, it brought in $22,191 per screen and would have to bring in $7,296 per screen to meet the ProBoxOffice.com forecast of $4.6M. Unfortunately for us, ShowBuzzDaily didn’t forecast “Spotlight” which only leaves us with one data point as I write this Wednesday evening, making things complicated.
At $4.6M, “Spotlight” has a value at $143.7K, which not only makes it a huge Best Performer favorite but brings up the average value enough that it raises the two completely unforecasted films, “Hotel Transylvania 2” and “The Last Witch Hunter” to a value above all “Mockingjay” options. Under this scenario, “Mockingjay” + 2x “Secret In Their Eyes” + 5x “Spotlight” wins my variance simulation 55.56% of the time and the only other combination that registers is “Mockingjay” + 7x “Spotlight”.
If the forecast for “Spotlight” is set closer to Metroplex 47’s weekly numbers at $2.6M, though, it puts a variety of films into play for Best Performer and you get the following table:
On my “strictly by the model” account I’ll go with the scenario where “Spotlight” is forecasted at $4.6M but on my main “use some common sense” account, I’m going to wait and see what the BoxOfficeMojo forecast has to say on Thursday. “Spotlight” still gets Best Performer if it goes as low as $3.2M, all other things being equal, but if it gets below $3.1M the table above becomes relevant.
Finally, if you are a Thursday night number watcher, “Catching Fire” did $25.3M on its first Thursday (16.0% of its weekend total) and “Mockingjay Part 1” did $17.4M (14.3%). That might be a good guideline for interpreting Thursday numbers for “Mockingjay Part 2”, highs and lows for what it might do over the total weekend. There is, however, a particularly heartbreaking moment in the end of the book that, if changed in the film as Hollywood often does to avoid darker moments, could anger fans and cause for a larger percentage of the weekend to be on Thursday as bad word of mouth spreads, similar to what we saw with “Paper Towns” this summer.