Fantasy Movie League 2016 Awards Week 1 Picks

As M37 outlined masterfully in his Chatter post last week, the Awards season is a different animal because of all the special cases we are faced with each week.  This first week is no exception with only one new film with a relatively inexperienced distributor, one small release expansion whose success will rely heavily on final theater count, and a whole lot of trying to figure out how big the drops will be after an inflated holiday weekend (get used to that).

Looking back to this same weekend last year, the value for films was dismal.  “Krampus” was the only movie whose value was above $40K as releases that took advantage of Thanksgiving crowds cratered.  In fact, the next best values after “Krampus” were films that had only been in theaters two (“Creed” and “The Good Dinosaur”) or three (“The Night Before”) weeks.  Even some in that category struggled (“Victor Frankenstein”, “Secret In Their Eyes”, and “Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2”), so that’s not necessarily a determinative factor.

Before we get to the details of the week, let me comment on M37’s announcement that he won’t be commenting on game play for awhile.  While my favorite part about playing this game is the amazing community that comes with it and while I choose to share pretty much every thought (and piece of software) I have openly, I completely respect his decision.  He’s privately revealed to me some of the machinations he uses to draw his conclusions each week and I can’t say that I blame him for wanting to keep his thoughts to himself given the amount of work he puts in.

I’m satisfied with the knowledge that the more I share, the less chance there is that I’ll win but not everybody thinks of it that way and I don’t judge people either way.  Besides, few have shared as much as M37 has, so cut the guy some slack for keeping tight lips for awhile.  He’s taught me a thing or two and I think going without his advice will force everyone else to learn a little bit more.

Week 1 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):

2016awardsweek1summarytable

Week 1 Perfect Combo Probabilities

2016awardsweek1winprobabilities

It seems like I’ve been repeating myself a lot here lately, but with only a ProBoxOffice.com to go with here (I haven’t yet automated BoxOfficeMojo and am still hoping ShowBuzzDaily makes a comeback), I’m left with model output here I don’t necessarily believe.  There’s a very good thread about what ProBoxOffice may have right and what they may have wrong that I strongly encourage you to read.  In particular, the holds are stronger on several returning films considering the boost most received last weekend due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

In fact, last year for this same weekend we saw ever film that didn’t expand drop at least 50% yet the ProBoxOffice forecast shows at least four movies in that category.

In particular, “Allied”, “Hacksaw Ridge”, and “Arrival” all seem aggressive as would “Loving” and “Moonlight” should the latter two not get expansions.  Even “Trolls” at a 50% drop is ambitious given that “Peanuts” fell over 63% over the same weekend in 2015.

So where does that leave us?

First of all, “Incarnate” is our only new wide release this week, from High Top Releasing, a company with only 9 movies under its belt.  With a distributor that inexperienced, I’m inclined to look closer at its past films than elsewhere for comps.  “The Darkness” is their most successful release to date, which had an initial Per Theater Average (PTA) of $2821 which, if repeated, would put “Incarnate” at $4.9M and make it the runaway Best Performer.  “Green Inferno” is High Top Releasing’s next best film, which did $2286 PTA its first weekend, putting “Incarnate” at $3.9M making that a closer race but it’s Long Range Forecast trend has not been positive, making it an awfully high risk to take the first week of a new season.

Thursday preview numbers may tell us something here, but the difficultly there is to find a horror movie projected to be that low in December.  If you forget about size for a moment, “Krampus” did about 4% of its total opening weekend revenue at previews.  That’s not a great comp, but better than nothing.

“Manchester By the Sea” has had ads running on movie websites for weeks and there are few Roadside Attractions December releases to choose from as comps.  It’s theater count of 156, though, renders it unplayable.

“Moana” ($14.6K PTA its first week) ended up being closer to “Tangled” ($14.6K adjusted PTA) than “Frozen” ($18.6K aPTA) and if that continues in it second week, look for the Disney adventure to pull in roughly $24.8M, possibly more due to it being in more 3D theaters than “Tangled”.

The two other films I like this week are “Allied” and “Edge of Seventeen”.  Neither saw big bumps last week due to the holiday for reasons that have to do with Brad Pitt’s divorce and Gilmore Girls dropping on Netflix last Friday, respectively.  Less of a bump often means a smaller fall the subsequent week.  While I think the pro estimate for “Allied” is too high, I think it is still playable at a 50% drop.

With all that confusion, I like “Moana” as a high end filler.  It likely won’t get Best Performer, but will have good value.  Unless we get an unforeseen expansion out of “Loving” or “Moonlight”, you either can believe in “Incarnate” and play it on seven screens with “Moana” or be a little more conservative and play a mix of “Allied” and “Age of Seventeen”.  As of Wednesday night, I’m leaning towards the latter but a good Thursday preview number for “Incarnate” could nudge me the other way.

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