Don’t just scroll down to the model output and blindly play the first entry in the table!
Based on what was the Most Popular lineup last week, I suspect that’s what a large percentage of readers did and as the final results showed, that’s not always in your best interest. Let me explain.
If you haven’t read up on the details in awhile, my model output is dependent upon pro forecasts. The last few weeks, ShowBuzzDaily has not produced a weekly forecast, so the model output has been based only on the ProBoxOffice.com weekend forecast and the Fall season has been a little rough on them. In fact, if you read one Chatter thread this week, it should be this one started by Kbar812 about that very subject and be sure to see my comment on “wet bias” and M37’s comment on precision and Thursday data.
In short, the pro forecasts should be a conversation starter and not be taken as fact. Last week in this space I spent time discussing the notion that “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” would be a strong Best Performer and as Thursday data came in, I announced on my Twitter account that I was toying with a 4x “Boo! A Madea Halloween” lineup as well.
I get it, you’re busy and some weeks you don’t have the time to do deep analysis, but take 15 minutes on Thursday evening to glance at the Chatter or my Twitter feed and you’ll improve your chances of avoiding badness.
Week 10 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 10 Perfect Combo Probabilities
I can’t recall a week in which we would collectively be looking for late week data that indicates which one of four different scenarios could play out, but that’s exactly where we find ourselves. Each of the three new wide releases and one new-to-FML small release could justifiably anchor lineups in absence of data we will have on Thursday or Friday morning. How can we sort through all that?
The first thing you’ll need to look closely at this week is the theater count for “Moonlight”. I wrote a detailed Chatter thread proposing some limits to look for that I’ll update based on the pro forecasts here and great input from CCR and Hot Fez. Simply put, if it is in more than 350 theaters, this becomes an easy week and you should play “Doctor Strange”, 6x “Moonlight” and “Keeping up with the Joneses”. If it is in less than 250 theaters, discount it completely. In between, and its hard to say.
If either of the latter two scenarios play out, the next question you’ll need to answer for yourself involves the newest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Doctor Strange”. This origin story of a not quite as well known character will play a bigger role in the Infinity Wars to come but brings with it Oscar winner Benedict Cumberbatch. Based on time of year and release strategy, the closest MCU comp you’ll find for this one is 2013’s “Thor: The Dark World”, which also released internationally a week before coming to the US in November.
ProBoxOffice.com reports that the good Dr. tracked very closely to the Thor sequel internationally last week, but will it do better here because of the Oscar shine of its star and the eye candy in the trailer or worse because audiences don’t really know this character? “Thor 2” opened at $85.7M ($88.4M adjusted for 2016 ticket prices) and brought in $7.2M during Thursday previews, which should be your guide on whether or not to play it absent its role as a top end filler for “Moonlight” as described above. Fillers in this non-“Moonlight” scenario for “Doctor Strange” are tough since there are over 10,500 theaters getting the three new releases and it’s unclear how that’ll displace returning films. As of Wednesday evening, though, ProBoxOffice.com likes “Miss Peregrine” and “Girl on a Train” presumably due to lack of competition. That would leave you with “Doctor Strange” + 7x “Miss Peregrine” or “Doctor Strange” + 6x “Girl on a Train” + “Deepwater Horizon”.
Fox and Dreamworks have had mixed success together since the latter moved on from Paramount as its distributor. Their lone November entry together was 2014’s “Penguins of Madagascar” which had a franchise behind it and a holiday weekend but not a Justin Timberlake song. Still, if you apply the adjusted Per Theater Average of that film to “Trolls” massive 4,060 theater count, you get $28.4M, which seems a reasonable floor. The Long Range Forecast for this latest animated adventure was $30M but it was upgraded to $39M on the weekly forecast. Despite good reviews, I personally find this trailer unwatchable and don’t understand the appeal of this film in any way, shape, or form. Then again, I’m a middle aged man with a teenager in the house, so I’m not exactly the target audience here. At that surprising $39.5M prediction from ProBoxOffice.com, two screens of “Trolls” fit nicely with six screens of “The Accountant” or a “Hacksaw Ridge”, 2x “The Accountant”, and 3x “Ouija” fitt, your choice depending upon if you like Ben Affleck or horror for a strong hold. Then again, ProBoxOffice was really wrong about “Storks” in a similar situation a few weeks ago, so buyer beware on “Trolls”.
The last Lionsgate rated R fall movie with action was “John Wick”, which is hardly a perfect fit for Mel Gibson’s latest “Hacksaw Ridge” but in the familiar debate on whether or not we can separate the sins of the man from his art it would seem that most people seem to be softening on Gibson. ProBoxOffice.com put the Long Range Forecast for this one at $10M but it has been upgraded a bit. “Hacksaw Ridge” at $13M beats “Trolls” at $34M and “Doctor Strange” at $85M, so use those as guidelines accordingly. Because of its price, you can go all in on “Hacksaw Ridge” x7 and one of several fillers. The aforementioned “John Wick” had a $870K Thursday preview on its way to a $14.4M opening weekend, although check the Chatter Friday morning for a discussion of what the “Hacksaw Ridge” number might mean as I’m not super excited about that comp.
In sum, should the “Moonlight” theater count underwhelm, what you have to decide is what you like best among “Doctor Strange”, “Trolls”, and “Hacksaw Ridge” once all the data is available and choose accordingly. As we sit here on Wednesday night, I find myself leaning towards the Disney marketing machine, the good international numbers, and the better than expected reviews for “Doctor Strange”, but should those Thursday preview numbers be subpar, either of the other two new releases could be compelling.