I fought the law (of averages), and the law won.
First off, I owe a huge apology to the 542 people who, like me, used the top lineup my model produced last week: “The Accountant” + 7x “Max Steel”. While it has happened before that my model has produced a lineup that tanked, it’s been awhile since my model produced a model that I advocated heavily tanked. I was adamant in The Chatter all week that “Max Steel” had a lot going for it to differentiate it from the film that correct naysayers repeatedly compared it to “Jem and the Holograms”.
While “Max Steel” didn’t do quite that badly, my assertions were clearly wrong and I personally paid the standings price as well. Top 100, it was nice knowing you and congrats to the 312 people who passed me based on my idiocy last week.
On a related note, my current model debuted in Week 11 of the 2015 Fall season and this most recent result points to a need for a tune-up, which will be happening in November. I’ve optimized my code such that I can now apply variance to eight Best Performer candidates (that’s 6,561 variance combinations) instead of the current six (729 variance combinations) and I’m going to use previous weeks to determine if better results can be achieved by applying a wider variance to opening weeks. More on that as it happens.
For now, though, we have the current model to use as a guide and, more than ever, it is important to understand its limitations.
Week 8 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 8 Perfect Combo Probabilities
When I plug the Use column into my model (which are also loaded in to the FML Lineup Calculator for your use), here’s what it comes up with (see the full output at http://analyzer.fmlnerd.com/model):
On its face, having 6 new movies to choose from would seem to complicate the week, but half of them are unplayable, making it easier. “Denial” only had a $4,300 per theater average (PTA) last week in 96 theaters and despite good reviews, it is not likely to beat that regardless of its theater count.
Similarly, “I’m Not Ashamed” comes to us from new distributor Pure Flix, whose previous small release experience is limited to the recent introduction of “Hillsong”, which opened with a $1,663 PTA. That same PTA applied to the theater count for “I’m Not Ashamed” renders it unplayable.
“Keeping Up with the Joneses” is getting horrible reviews and is confused with “Masterminds”, which is still in theaters. Combine that with negative Long Range Forecast momentum and I’d stay away.
According to ProBoxOffice.com (ShowBuzzDaily did not release a forecast as of press time), Best Performer is “Boo! A Madea Halloween”‘s to lose given its pricing. It has been more than two years since Tyler Perry has directed a movie and his prior release “The Single Moms Club” in March of ’14 likely lead to its initial Long Range Forecast being set to $10M. But what might be a better guide is Tyler Perry’s previous holiday-themed take, “A Madea Christmas”, which opened to $16M in December ’13.
Reviews for Tyler Perry movies tend not to matter and we will probably not get Thursday preview numbers for it, so there’s a bit of a leap of faith here. A number of holdovers have long tails, but “Storks” stands out among them given its pricing. So, if you like “Madea”, you can play it 4x with 3x “Storks” and a screen of “Sully”. Alternatively, it also fits on three screens, a screen of “The Accountant”, and 4x “Storks”.
The other movie that you should look at closely, though, is “Ouija 2”. Surprisingly, it has excellent reviews and underestimating horror fans is a frequent FML mistake. Its pricing isn’t as advantageous as “Madea”, but it has a higher than expected theater count that makes $15M a possibility. For Thursday comparisons, “Woman in Black 2” did $1.5M on its way to $15M in January ’15 but “Sinister” only did $1M on Thursday for an opening weekend of $18M in October of ’14, creating quite a bit of grey area.
Should we get a very big Thursday number for “Ouija 2” come Friday morning or if you simply don’t believe in Tyler Perry, 5x “Ouija 2” fits with 3x “Storks” very cleanly.
But what if both “Madea” and “Ouija 2” both falter and Tom Cruise is Tom Cruise? I’m skeptical about that playing out given that the original “Jack Reacher” did only $15.2M on its opening weekend in December ’12 and the fact that the last time a Tom Cruise movie opened in October was “The Color of Money”, which happens to be the first Rated R movie I saw in theaters. If you’re scoring at home, I was 16 years old and Ronald Reagan was still POTUS when this happened. Regardless, if you like Cruise, consider 2x “Jack Reacher”, 2x “Deepwater Horizon”, 4x “Middle School” or 2x “Jack”, 4x “Storks”, 2x “Sully”.