Sometimes you have to take a swing and be OK with the fact that you might miss. That’s where I find myself in the overall standings after taking a gamble on seven screens of “La La Land” when an overwhelming number of players instead played six screens of “A Dog’s Purpose”. The difference was more than $35M and 200 places in the standings, but I don’t regret taking the chance to make a big jump up. What I do regret is thinking I saw a pattern where there wasn’t one.
What Did We Learn From Last Week?
Why did I choose what I did last week in the face of a Thursday number for “A Dog’s Purpose” that seemed to indicate it was on pace for the weekend forecasted by pretty much every pro service? The Paper Towns Effect, which may not actually exist. Let me explain.
Back in the Summer of 2015 Week 10, “Paper Towns”, a film based on a popular novel had a very good $2M Thursday night preview take. The problem with it was that the plot deviated significantly from its source material and social media negativity drove down what pros forecasted at a $26M opening down to one of $12M. I’ve mistakenly attributed similar circumstances to more than one film since and that was the case with “A Dog’s Purpose” this past week.
Despite the good Thursday number from “A Dog’s Purpose”, my theory was that those folks were its core audience: fans of the novel. When you combined the PETA protests potential to dampen its numbers with the plot not exactly making it a family film, I thought it would a Paper Towns Effect would be in play and it would have trouble finding a broader audience. When the Thursday night Movietickets.com “Now Trending” widget had “A Dog’s Purpose” even with “La La Land”, I thought that was a sign that this was actually happening.
And I was wrong, paid the price, and am forced to change my goal to finish out the Awards season in the Top 200. I thought I saw signal when I instead found noise. But had I been right, I would have had a shot at the Top 100 and I don’t regret how it went down.
What About New Films?
Stop me if you’ve heard this one. An installment of a franchise comes back after a twelve year absence and debuts on a weekend where the national attention is completely somewhere else. It’s not clear when the string of unwanted sequels will end, but it sure isn’t this weekend.
The third installment of the “Ring” series has a Long Range Forecast of $14M and is coming out at a very different time of year than its predecessors (October and March), making direct comparisons difficult. But, ignore horror fans at your own peril and if you’re going to place a bet on a new movie despite the football festivities going on this weekend this would be it.
By contrast, ProBoxOffice.com has a much lower Long Range opinion of “The Space Between Us” at $4.25M. The plot sounds cool enough and the novel has its fans, so it could do well as a love story playing counter to the Super Bowl.
What are the Combos to Watch this week?
If you apply the latest Long Range Forecast to the three new films that have them you get an average value of a very low $36K and applying that to all films in play this week without Long Range Forecasts yields the default setting for the Lineup Calculator this week. CCR set his bonus bar at $48K this week and if you move up his BP Contenders and Upper Mid Tier movies, a few combinations shake out (full table):
If you like “A Dog’s Purpose” to hold well, you can have your cake and eat it too. It fits on two or three screens enabling you to hedge with either “Moana” or “Rogue One”. It can act as a high end filler for “Sing” combinations as well.
A bigger risk/reward would be to go all in on “The Space Between Us”, which fits on six screens with several low end filler combinations. CCR didn’t like “Rings” but if you do, it also fits twice and you can fill out your lineup with six screens of “Moana” as a hedge.
I’ll update what has become my normal weekly thread showing what happens in the Lineup Calculator according to the pros, so be on the look out for that as it changes throughout the week.