So it turns out that in addition to all the multi-day splits, the awards nominations, and the Monday holiday weekends another thing that makes Awards season challenging is weather. For example, as Accuweather reported on Friday, snow;
It didn’t help “Rogue One” preview numbers that it rained all evening in Los Angeles either and all that influenced the sub $160M posted by the latest “Star Wars” movie.
What Did We Learn From Last Week?
We learned that Thursday preview numbers matter and it’s better to be lucky than good. When that anemic Thursday number posted for “Rogue One” on Friday morning, I posted the following on Twitter:
I anticipated that we’d have a Perfect Cinema without a Best Performer (BP) and while I ended up being wrong about that I got equally lucky in my choice of a lineup with a higher floor. I had “Moana” coming in at $10.8M and thought “La La Land” would still battle “Manchester by the Sea” for BP and the BSA said to stay away from “Rogue One” Sunday, so with the hope that the weather would lift a bit by Saturday (which it did here on the West Coast) to help the second split day of “Rogue One”, I changed my lineup at the last minute to Saturday, 5x “Moana”, 2x “La La Land”.
So where I thought I’d be getting a nice middle filler in “Moana”, I ended up getting bonus points.
Besides weather, the other aspect of this game we’ll be contending with until the end of December is small movie expansions. In his Friday post-deadline thread, M37 made a good case for how unusual the expansions to “La La Land” and “Manchester by the Sea” really were and expect to see more of that as some films are scheduled to have mid-weekend expansions this week.
The Boxing Day Bump
I like tables. So I made this one from the last time Boxing Day fell on a Monday to show the effects of the extra day this holiday weekend:
For pro forecasts this week, pay particular attention to whether or not they are FSS or FSSM and if they are the former, this table might help you convert to the latter by multiplying the FSS number by 1.55.
What are the Combos to Watch this week?
If you haven’t figured it out by now, this is the most difficult week of any FML season. You have mid-week openings prior to an FSSM holiday weekend and mid weekend expansions of at least one movie, possibly two. There’s the weather, the second week of a franchise film, and probably much less help from the pros than you’d typically have because they’re all heading out to vacations. You’re probably feeling like there are too many variables to contend with and you’re correct about that. Don’t feel too bad, though, a year ago this is the week that “Daddy’s Home” surprised everyone and there were only 7 Perfect Cinemas.
Before discussing the combos this week, remember that the normal Friday 9a Pacific deadline has not changed and that Thursday numbers for the Wednesday openers WILL NOT count towards their FSSM totals. However, the Friday and Saturday totals for the mid-weekend expanding films WILL count towards their FSSM totals.
You can make a case for at least seven different films taking BP and acting as the anchor of your lineup this week. The bad news is that we have no CCR Bonus Bar to guide us as of early Tuesday evening Pacific time, but we do have some early pro forecasts, which summarize as follows (see the Megathread for links):
What I’ll do here is walk through each BP candidate and offer some numbers to look for that might help you take it off your list as the week progresses. As a shortcut, here’s the Lineup Calculator set to the BoxOfficeReport forecast (extrapolating the average value for the last three) and a large number of pinned lineups.
The favorite for the BP crown this week would appear to be “Sing” given that lots of families will gather this weekend and a singing contest comprised of anthropomorphic animals is a concept just about everybody can get behind. If it brings in $15M combined on Wednesday and Thursday, it is likely headed towards $55M for its FSSM. The tricky part is whether or not to play it twice. If you play it once, you can put together a nice hedge with 6x “Why Him?” and “Fantastic Beasts”. If there’s a “Daddy’s Home” repeat this year it’ll be with “Why Him?”, although the R rating scares me a bit. Two screens of “Sing” will force you into lesser fillers.
If there’s a Triple Dog Dare on the slate this week, it’s “Assassin’s Creed”, the nicely priced but poorly reviewed film with little to no crossover appeal to anyone who has never played the video game on which it is based. If you believe in it, it fits nicely on six screens with a number of low end filler options and since it opens on Wednesday, the W/Th number you’re looking for is at least $12M. Be careful if its higher, though, because fanboys may come out in droves early in the week leaving nothing left for the weekend that counts for FML scoring.
Should “Sing” get to $50M, that means “Rogue One” has to get to $108M to make a case to play it instead. You can hedge that with two screens of “Fences” or three screens of “La La Land” with low fillers. Take a close look at the daily numbers for “Rogue One” to see if it has any chance whatsoever at a number that high, which it likely won’t.
Those two mid-fillers in the “Rogue One” scenario expand on Christmas Day and could potentially justify a lot more screens. “Fences” fits 6x with one “Sing” and one “Assassin’s Creed” and “La La Land” fits 4x with either two “Sing” screens, a “Doc Strange” and a blank or two “Sing” screens and two “Nocturnal Animals”. There’s no good number to look at for “Fences” but the dailies for “La La Land” may tell you something later in the week.
Finally, the film I struggle most with this week is “Passengers”. On its surface it appears like a lower quality “Arrival” and market confusion is never a good thing when large groups of people are deciding on what to go see together when they get sick of being in the same living room for hours. The pros seem to think it could bring in as much as $25M W/Th indicating a $28M FSSM in play and if you like it, 4x “Passengers” and a number of filler combinations fit.
As it stands on Tuesday night, I like the 2x “Sing” lineups best, but that may change with data available later in the week. Keep a close eye on those W/Th numbers, as that is the best way to eliminate or boost choices. Have a happy and safe holiday weekend!