The first likely $100M movie of the summer is upon us and with a familiar cast of beloved characters that has some predicting the biggest animated opening weekend ever. Standing in its way? The Rock, of course.
OK, so “Central Intelligence” isn’t exactly coveting the same audience as “Finding Dory” so maybe it isn’t fair to say that the success of one has anything to do with the other, but in terms of Fantasy Movie League, the big choice each player will have to make this week is whether to fill out the top end of your cineplex with one screen of the latter or four screens of the former. Also, LeBron James and Steph Curry might impede your ability to make an informed choice.
Just when you thought Week 3 was wild, Week 4 presents more of the same. But first, the usual statistics.
Week 4 Summary Table
As always, here is the summary table that I use to assess the results of my model (full table):
The PBO column came from the ProBoxOffice.com forecast this week and the SBD from ShowBuzzDaily. The Use column applies the average of the Value column to non-forecasted films based on their FB$, averages the pro forecasts where possible, and is the full list of what I use in my model. The Value column divides the Use by the FB$.
Week 4 Perfect Combo Probabilities
Most of the conversation in the Chatter this week has revolved around the relative strengths of “Finding Dory” and “Central Intelligence”. The Dwayne Johnson/Kevin Hart buddy movie opened its life on the ProBoxOffice Long Range Forecast at $54M back in April , anchored in the idea that The Rock led “San Andreas” to a $54M opening last year. That forecast has been slipping, however, down to a Long Range Forecast of $35M this past week and a pro average weekend forecast of roughly the same $35.25M. Based on data the FML community has run in the past, a downward trend in a Long Range Forecast usually (but not always) means something.
Oppositely, “Finding Dory” has seen its forecast climb. It started at $108M before climbing to $133M more recently and its pro average now stands at $129.25M. You don’t have to try to hard to find people in The Chatter who think that’s absurdly high given that it has been so long since the original and there have been only three digitally animated movies to ever open above even $100M (Toy Story 3, Shrek the Third, and Minions). But just as many people believe in the Disney marketing machine and think that a $150M+ weekend is possible.
So how do the two compare? In the following table, the first column shows different possible weekend returns for “Central Intelligence” followed by what “Finding Dory” would need in order to be a better value:
Will Thursday night preview numbers help you decide?
Enter LeBron and Steph, who tip off Game 6 of the NBA Finals at 9p Eastern on Thursday night. That demographic would seem to overlap more with the “Central Intelligence” crowd and digital animation tends to see a much smaller percentage of its opening weekend in the Thursday returns. If you take the first row in the comparison table above and assume “Dory” needs to get to $138M, here are some comps of what a Thursday number might look like (based on data from HSXSanity):
There are all kinds of arguments someone could make regarding which of these films is the best comp, but what I find interesting here is the range. Below $3M on Thursday and it’s hard to make the argument that “Dory” will get up to where it needs to in order to justify a slot in your cineplex. But anywhere between $3M and $7M you could argue either way.
The Thursday comp I like for “Central Intelligence” is “Get Hard”, a buddy movie that also starred Kevin Hart and brought in $1.8M in its opening Thursday on its way to a $33.8M full weekend. The NBA game will likely dampen the number for “Central Intelligence”, which I think still has a good shot at a $35M weekend should that Thursday return be right around that same $1.8M.
All that said, my model likes “Now You See Me 2” (only a 30% drop from last week, aggressive compared to a 35% drop for its predecessor) and “The Conjuring 2” (a 47% drop, in line with its predecessor) as having the best value despite the hype around the two newcomers. The value on “Now You See Me 2” is still there if it drops as much as 42%, all other forecasts staying equal, making that first combination in my model output a choice with a high floor. For the second combination in my model output (which tied for most wins, the first time that has happened), consider swapping “Alice Through the Looking Glass” for “Angry Birds” since the former will get paired with “Dory” at drive-ins nationwide and might see an unexpected bump as a result.
“Dory” has a huge ceiling, though, so it would be wise to watch those Thursday numbers to see if they come in on the high side of the comps given here. If the Thursday night numbers for “Dory” come in above $7M and “CI” below $1.8M, “Dory” can be paired with a “Now You See Me 2” and combinations of several low end fillers “Neighbors 2”, “Nice Guys”, and “Love & Friendship”. For those low end fillers, theater counts will be key so keep an eye out for those sometime Thursday afternoon.