The final week of the 2016 Fantasy Movie League Summer Season puts seemingly a handful of players in position to win the trip for two to Universal Studios Hollywood, which I visited myself last week:
That’s me at the entrance to Hogsmeade with the Hogwarts castle in the background, home to the best ride not only at this park but probably at any theme park in the world, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey”. Part dark ride, part 3D film, part roller coaster, it is by far the most immersive live experience you can have in the Harry Potter universe and some skillful FMLer will get a chance to go on it as well as all the other rides at the legendary studio.
Billion Dollar Cineplex sits in the drivers seat with $1.422B but we’ve seen swings as much as $42M between the Perfect Cinema and Most Popular, so by that math anybody in about the top 35 has a chance to take it all under the right circumstances. Let’s take a look at the week at hand.
Week 14 Summary Table
As always, here is the summary table that I use to assess the results of my model (see the full table at http://analyzer.fmlnerd.com/model):
Week 14 Perfect Combo Probabilities
Before going any further I should point out, in case you missed it on The Chatter, that “Hands of Stone” had a major change to its release strategy after FML pricing was determined on Monday. Instead of releasing on the originally planned 2,000 theaters, the Roberto Duran biopic will instead get only 800. The idea there being they’d like to build word of mouth with middle-aged men like me who actually remember his career before broadening to a wider slate of locations. If missed, this change could swing quite a few leagues, so don’t look at the Long Range Forecast and think this film is a can’t-miss Best Performer contender. Quite the opposite, I’m afraid.
Looking elsewhere, both ProBoxOffice.com and ShowBuzzDaily like “Don’t Breathe” quite a bit. I don’t recall ProBoxOffice more than doubling its Weekend Forecast relative to its last Long Range Forecast for a film like this before and they admit to being swayed by the good reviews for this late August horror film. As a result, my model spits out its most skeptical output ever, with only two winning lineups (which makes me think, I can’t figure out just two) and both of them have a blank screen.
Given that, we’ll have the most critical Thursday preview number in recent memory to possibly show us the way. ProBoxOffice compares “Don’t Breathe” to three August horror releases, but only one of them also appears in the HSXSanity data set. On a similar weekend in 2010 with a similar number of theaters but a lower Rotten Tomatoes rating (72% vs 91%), “The Last Exorcism” brought in $800K with its Thursday previews on the way to a $20.4M opening weekend. The counter argument is “Deliver Us from Evil“, which released on Wednesday before 4th of July weekend two years ago to much stiffer competition and a much worse Rotten Tomatoes rating (28%) to only bring in $9.7M.
All that to say, if “Don’t Breathe” brings in $1M, the model output makes sense and less than $600K it would not, but there’s a whole lot of grey area in between.
Another complication is that “Hell or High Water”, a movie I completely failed to mention at all last week (sorry about that) and our reigning Best Performer, got a +92% theater expansion this week. That’s why it shows up in the top model prediction, although the showtime report will be important to examine on that one as it may have even more upside.
Should “Don’t Breathe” come in closer to the $9M Long Range Forecast and “Hell or High Water” breaks $3M, all other forecasts being equal, a cineplex combination featuring 4x “Suicide Squad”, 3x “Hell or High Water” and a mid-level filler like “Sausage Party”, “War Dogs” or “Kubo” would make sense.
The irony here is that the FML Pricing Gods have done such a masterful job creating uncertainty all season, but might finish the crucial final week with a set of low variance among the top player line ups because of release and review circumstances that unveiled themselves less than a day after prices were frozen. My best advise is to clear your calendar from 8-9a Pacific on Friday and have that refresh button ready on Deadline.com as those Thursday numbers roll in.