For reasons I don’t understand, but strangely wholeheartedly endorse, prominent Chatter member STEVE resurrected an almost year old thread Wednesday that featured the dramatic departing rant a high profile player. If you’ve ever seen someone mention “going full Sleestak”, this thread is what they mean.
You can read it yourself, but the main point debated on that thread was, well, me. Specifically the information I bring the more casual player in this column and on my analytics site, which he didn’t think fit the spirit of the game. That was his right then as it still is now, but if anything has become clear it is that there is room for all sorts of different kinds of players in Fantasy Movie League which is, amazingly, 23,000+ members strong now.
Yet, if you do a Twitter search on #ShowYourScreens on Friday you’ll see new or casual players doing things that more experienced players would not like play four blank screens or play eight different movies in their cineplex. My goal has always been to raise the level of play in this game and with the longer term trending data I’ve been researching lately and writing about in this space, it seems about time for some more concrete rules of thumb when putting your lineup together, especially if you are new or spend less than an hour a week researching for this game.
So with that, here’s the Fantasy Movie League Nerd’s 4 Rules for Better Beginner Cineplexes (4RBBC, if you’re lazy):
1) Always spend at least FB$950 – This one was covered two weeks ago, roughly 90% of Perfect Cinema’s use at least FB$950 of the FB$1000 you get to spend each week.
2) Always use 2, 3, or 4 different movies in your cineplex – Again, same article two weeks ago, roughly 90% of Perfect Cinemas use 2, 3, or 4 movies in a cineplex. Using 5 different movies in your 8 slots has only happened 3 times.
3) Only Break Rules 1) and 2) when . . . – There’s an obvious Best Performer that The Chatter is buzzing about that will fit in your cineplex given the pricing for the week 7 or 8 times. More than likely, that will cost less than the FB$950 but it may not.
4) Never play a blank screen – Only twice has Perfect Cinema ever used a blank screen and it has never used two. The $2M per blank screen penalty is just too difficult to overcome to use blanks regularly. Don’t do it.
Now, if you’ve ever gone back and forth on The Chatter with Phil or M37 or Angry Geek or any other prominent player over the validity of a particular Thursday preview comp, these rules are not for you. If you really like the new LRF or pick rate graphs, forget those last two paragraphs and move on. But if you aren’t obsessed with this game with the game like I am or like others are, take a look at my suggestions below, use the Lineup Calculator for 15 minutes on Thursday, read a few Chatter posts, and follow those 4 rules. You’ll find yourself better off.
With that in mind, here’s what we have to analyze this week.
Week 4 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 4 Perfect Combo Probabilities
As always, the model output above is based heavily on what our friends at ProBoxOffice.com and ShowBuzzDaily think will happen this weekend. On the podcast, Patrick pointed out that in order for “The Magnificent Seven” to reach these heights it would have to be not only the biggest opening for a Western but for a Denzel Washington movie, which seems aggressive to me. Unless something really unusual happens when we get final theater counts and showtimes on Thursday I would stay away from “M7”.
On the other hand, I like the momentum that “Storks” has, which you can see on my Long Range Forecast graph at http://analyzer.fmlnerd.com/lrf/. For three consecutive weeks, ProBoxOffice.com has upgraded its forecast for this film and while I think their final number is a bit high, I like “Storks” to get at least $30M and justify two slots to anchor your line up this week.
But what to fill it with?
The pros, and by extension my model, like “When the Bough Breaks” as a filler, but that is largely dependent on how many theaters and showtimes it holds onto. Similarly reviewed, “The Boy Next Door” did $14.9M in its opener(“WtBB” did $14.2,) , $6M in its second week (“WtBB” did $5.4M), and then dropped only 32.4% third week. It went from 2600 to 2100 theaters in that third week, so if “WtBB” retains 1800 or so it might be worth considering.
I like to think there is more upside in better reviewed films, though. “Bridget Jones” had a poor showing its first week, but will retain all of its theaters because of the “2 week rule” and we’ve seen other instances where a film has a better than expected second week after a disappointing opener.
The same theater count hold logic applies to “Snowden”, which only needs to drop in the mid 40% to justify multiple screens of it. In fact, there are several combinations of 2x “Storks” and multiple screens of “Bridget” and “Snowden” that can work together.
Thursday preview numbers likely won’t help much this week, but yet again you have to consider “Hell or High Water” as a low end filler. It dropped less than 16% last week after adding a few theaters, and given that there are only two new releases this week, theater owners might grant it yet another expansion. It only has to bring in $1.6M to beat “Storks” at $35M for BP, justifying a lineup with 2x “Storks”, 3x or 4x “Hell or High Water” along with several mid level filler choices.
Given the rules I laid out above, I like the “Storks” x2, “Bridget” x2, “Snowden” x4 combination as of Wednesday night, but those final theater counts and showtimes could sway me differently.