And then there was one . . .
The last week of a Fantasy Movie League season is always full of anticipation and excitement. With a tight Week 12, the excitement comes from the possibilities of so many potential winners. Really, anybody in the Top 10 has a chance given the right set of circumstances and the FML Pricing Gods have done us all a favor this week by distributing the choices pretty nicely. More on that later.
The anticipation, though, comes from the dawning of a new season for the vast majority of us that have no chance of passing Tommy Wiseau for first overall. If last season is any indication, everything you thought you knew about Fantasy Movie League is about to change with the start of Awards season. We will undoubtedly see split screens come December 16 when “Rogue One” debuts and probably for at least one week after that. Two three day weekends will throw a wrench into not only their weekends, but the ones after them where drops will be steeper and you’ll have fewer days to analyze your lineup. Oscar nominations and the show itself will alter fortunes, as will the Super Bowl and the NBA All-Star Game.
But for this week, some housekeeping. Despite the long holiday weekend here in the U.S., the submittal deadline is still Friday at 9a Pacific. As such, not only will Wednesday and Thursday totals not count for most of our four new films, there will not be any Thursday night previews for any of them. Just like any other regular week, the totals only count from revenue earned Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. But what we do have are dailies from Wednesday and Thursday, which might guide us.
Week 13 Summary Analysis
I’m foregoing the normal graphics this week given the holiday, although I’m going to generate the normal model output on Wednesday. Much of that might not matter, though, given that the pros don’t always distinguish between the 5 day and 3 day forecasts this week. Fortunately, as I’ll point out, there will be more data at our disposal this week.
You have a couple of things to decide this week when picking your lineup and more than one of them will look familiar. Disney’s attempt to own the Thanksgiving weekend continues from last year’s “The Good Dinosaur”, which many called the first Pixar flop. Our friends at ProBoxOffice.com predicted it would bring in $54M over the final three days of the same holiday weekend last year and it only took in $39M.
Oppositely, in 2013 during a weekend that spawned a phenomenon you are no doubt familiar with if you have any relationship whatsoever with a little girl, “Frozen” opened wide. Back then, ProBoxOffice.com forecasted a $47M against stiff competition from the second entry in the “Hunger Games” series. Instead it did $67.4M and famously went on to a long, long tail that never would let go, pun intended 8).
This year, it isn’t clear which one of those two extremes “Moana” falls closer to. Will the #boycotthamilton phenomenon that started over the weekend cross over given the shared association with my composer-crush, Lin-Manuel Miranda? Or is Disney immune from such things like how it survived boycott calls from religious groups around its support for employees in same sex relationships? Even if that doesn’t matter, this is a very different story but with great reviews, so where is one to find guidance?
The answer is in the dailies. Bookmark the daily takes for both “Frozen” and “Good Dinosaur” and compare them to what you see out of “Moana”. That should tell you if it’s closer to $60M or $70M and above. In the latter scenario, it is worth the steep cost to play in your lineup given its ceiling potential.
But what to play with it?
There are supporters in the Chatter for “Loving”, but I’m not one of them despite the fact that it fits nicely 7x with “Moana”. What I’m not liking about it is that its going to be falling from a Per Theater Average (PTA) of $6,346 from last week. That’s worse than the $7,189 that Moonlight started from two weeks ago and we all now know its PTA then fell well below $2500. In order for “Moana” + 7x “Loving” to work, “Bad Santa 2” has to come in below $11M and “Loving” above $1.9M. At a theater count of 600, “Loving” would have to have a PTA of $3,167, which despite it being PG-13 compared to R for “Moonlight” I don’t think it can achieve.
Speaking of Billy Bob Thornton, he brings us another in the long line of “gap sequels” we’ve seen this year. Those have not gone well, but the cruelty of the FML Pricing Gods makes “Bad Santa 2” enticing, causing believers to consider it 7x. Again, the dailies are your guide there in the form of two films in the mid-teens over the last three days of Thanksgiving weekend.
The “Red Dawn” reboot did $14.2M over that same span in 2012 and “Horrible Bosses 2” $15.5M. While those aren’t perfect comparisons, they are in the right ballpark to compare daily takes for “Bad Santa 2” and should it look like it is on the way to $13M you can justify playing it 7x, most likely with “Arrival”.
Is there anything to be learned from last Thanksgiving? During that week, “Spectre” was Best Performer and Perfect Cinema called for using it 4x. The holdover that’s been in the market a few weeks getting attention in the Chatter that fits this description of a big opener with a handsome British leading man is “Doctor Strange”, which fits 5x with three screens of “Almost Christmas”. However, that whole holdover-with-a-handsome-British-leading-man description also applies to “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them”, which won’t suffer from a theater count reduction this week. You could potentially play it once with “Arrival” and 6x “Almost Christmas”.
What this sets up is potentially a whole lot of players using “Moana” + x7 “Loving” and others with 7x “Bad Santa 2” + “Arrival”. Or 5x “Doctor Strange”, 3x “Almost Christmas”. Or “Fantastic Beasts”, “Arrival” and 6x “Almost Christmas”. Or maybe Brad Pitt is still a movie star and the negative publicity from his divorce won’t keep “Allied” out of the mid-teens, in which case you could play it 5x with 3x “Edge of Seventeen”. Ben Affleck knows what that’s like, literally, and if “The Accountant” rebounds it fits 6x with “Moana” and either “Almost Christmas” or “Rules Don’t Apply”.
Whatever. You get the idea. This week = difficult. Standings movement will occur.
If all that seems as overwhelming to you as it does to me, set those bookmarks on the four daily comparisons to watch for and poll your relatives in between political arguments at the dinner table to see what movies appeal to which demographics. And enjoy the time off, Happy Thanksgiving!