This week, we likely have a new box office weekend winner, “The Accountant”, with a too obvious comp in “Argo” but we also have a stand up movie trying to push boundaries, “Kevin Hart: Now What?”, with a mini-movie co-starring Halle Barry. There is a movie whose sole purpose is to push Mattel toys, “Max Steel”, which reminds Phil of “Jem and the Holograms” but reminds me a little more of “Barbie and the 12 Dancing Princesses” (because 13 was just asking too much of a parent like me, who conspired with extended family to purchase all 12 dancing princesses). Oh yeah, and don’t forget a small release, “Priceless”, to round out your typical really weird Fall season week.
Before getting to the details of the week, I have a few administrative type items to point out:
– The Second Half League starts this week, with a prize of $250 going to the overall winner.
– You can now sign up for the Sing league, which will run Week 8 and through Week 11. Weekly winners get $100 electronic gift cards from MovieTickets.com and overall winner gets a trip for two to the Sing premiere in LA in December courtesy of Universal.
– I’d like to give shout outs to We v Them Cineplex and Mo’s Money Cineplex for pointing out a math error that apparently has been plaguing me for weeks. It turns out, the sum of the averages isn’t the same as the average of the sums because, PEMDAS. That caused the value calculations for non-forecasted films to be incorrect (an embarrassingly rookie mistake by me), which has now been fixed going forward.
With that, here are some details on Week 7.
Week 7 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 7 Perfect Combo Probabilities
In yet another unusual set of circumstances for this week, as of 8:30p PDT on Wednesday, we have very few pro forecasts to pull from, which is kind of important for a model based on pro forecasts. Uncharacteristically, ProBoxOffice.com only forecasted the three new wide releases this week and ShowBuzzDaily has not released a forecast at all. Therefore, the model output I usually publish in this section of this article every week, I won’t right now because it doesn’t really tell you anything. Keep an eye on the Chatter and my Twitter account on Thursday. Should updates happen from either source, I’ll make sure people know about it.
With a lack of data, we have to go old school and look at the available films a little differently.
Your lineup this week will be dictated largely by what you think of “Max Steel” because of how low it is priced. The comparisons to “Jem and the Holograms” are understandable, but that was an attempt to revive an old brand for a new audience whereas “Max Steel” was producing new episodes for Disney XD as recently as two years ago. In other words, yeah they are both trying to sell toys through media but “Max Steel” has recency in its series that “Jem” did not.
“Max Steel” reminds me a lot more of the Barbie direct to DVD series that, as a parent of a daughter who was a toddler in the mid-2000s, I am extremely familiar with. What kept that series going (and populating Christmas wish lists at my house for many years) was the cadence of the movies. Every year there was some new story to get attached to and a new set of dolls. While “Max Steel” doesn’t have quite that same consistency, the fact that it is a brand that has had mindshare of young boys in 2000, 2008, and 2013 makes a difference. While that doesn’t guarantee a $5M weekend, it can’t quite be dismissed as a “Jem” clone either.
If you really want to swing for the fences this week, “Max Steel” x5 with several high filler options or 6x with either a screen of “Girl on a Train” and “Miss Peregrine” or a screen of “The Accountant” and “Deepwater Horizon”. Keep in mind that, as a movie targeted at boys, there will likely not be a Thursday preview number for it.
“Kevin Hart: What Now?” is a different kind of movie with great reviews (89% on Rotten Tomatoes as I type this on Wednesday evening) but tough pricing. The third in his series of concert films that has upgraded both distributors (“Laugh at My Pain” via Codeblack, “Let Me Explain” via Lionsgate, “What Now?” via Universal) and opening weekend theater count (98 vs 876 vs 2550). The drop in adjusted Per Theater Averages between the first two were roughly 43% and a similar drop between “Let Me Explain” and “What Now?” would mean a $18.7M weekend.
Even I think that’s a big high for an October release, but the man sold out a football stadium for a comedy show and you probably can’t name five other people ever capable of that. Even at $15M, it makes sense to use it on three screens with multiple filler options, including one with “Birth of a Nation” which might be ripe for a rebound week, or you can hedge it on two screens with 4x “Max Steel” and two low level fillers. Then again, it doesn’t have great Want To See numbers and therefore carries some risk. Thursday preview comps are hard to come by here based on genre, although it is worth noting that no film in the HSXSanity data set earned more than $15M without at least a Thursday take of $4.2M.
“The Accountant” most naturally comps with “Argo” because of the same star, distributor, release timeframe, theater count, and even a similar budget. But reviews are quite different, low enough at 40% on Rotten Tomatoes that it might hurt Saturday and Sunday once word of mouth hits. In the Chatter this has been described as a “love it or hate it” film and so far critics are in the latter camp. I still like it to get to at least $17M and it can anchor a relatively safe lineup with two screens to hedge two screens of the riskier “Max Steel”. Thursday comps are tough here as well, but a return below $6M would likely spell trouble.
So where does that leave us? I’m leaning towards a hedged lineup of 2x “What Now?”, 4x “Max Steel”, “Sully”, and “Queen of Katwe”. Under almost no situation does that take PC but if either of those two new films with upside do well, it’ll keep my standing afloat.