Movie Recommendations From The June 3, 2018 Weekend Box Office

With no blockbusters released last weekend, the box office was “Adrift”.

The headlines from this past weekend at the box office were about how much Solo: A Star Wars Story dropped in its second weekend. From a consumer standpoint, this isn’t necessarily bad news. Movie fans are paying attention. The movie is good but not great and the market is responding accordingly. Disney has been put on notice that fans of the franchise can’t be taken for granted. The product must live up to the hype.

Of the new movies, Adrift had a decent opening. Audiences didn’t love the movie but they did like it. While 68% of the opening night audience were women, there wasn’t a huge IMDB rating gap between men and women. Women gave it an average rating of 7.0 while men were at 6.7. Critics were aligned with audiences. Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie a 71% Fresh rating and praised the strong performance of Shailene Woodley.

For those of you who are fans of the horror genre, you’ll probably really enjoy Upgrade. As for Action Point, which came in ninth for the weekend, do us all a favor and stay away and let it slip out of the top ten.

If you have already seen Deadpool 2 and Avengers: Infinity War, it looks like a good, but not great, Solo: A Star Wars Story may still be your best bet. After that you’ll be left Adrift.

Movie Recommendations From The May 27, 2018 Weekend Box Office

Critics and audiences like Solo: A Star Wars Story but they don’t love it.

The 2018 Disney juggernaut didn’t get stopped this weekend as Solo: A Star Wars Story finished number one at the box office for the Memorial Day weekend. It did get slowed a bit as the $83.3 million box office take was considerably less than the $101 million expectation. Critics and audiences like the movie but they don’t love it. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a respectable 71% Fresh and it’s running at a solid, but not great, average IMDB rating of 7.2 after its opening weekend. That IMDB rating is well below its primary box office competition, Deadpool 2 and Avengers: Infinity War, whose IMDB ratings are 8.2 and 8.8 respectively.

If you look at my Box Office Top Ten Recommendations for the weekend you’ll notice that I’m trying to introduce more qualifiers into my recommendations. If you are trying to decide whether to see the Avengers, Deadpool 2, or Solo, you should be able to look at my recommendations and see that the first two movies are more likely to be special movie events than Solo might be. I indicate that audiences are “loving” the first two movies and only “really liking” the second.

If you’re going to the movies for a “Girls Night”, which of the female targeted movies should you see. From my recommendations you should be able to see that women should “really like” Book Clubshould “like” Life of the Party, and might “like” Overboard. You should see that Book Club is the best choice if you’re over 45. Book Club and Life of the Party are viable options if you’re under 45. And, Overboard is the riskiest choice of the three for all age groups.

Check back next Monday to see if any new movies break into the Top Ten and more importantly are they worth seeing.

Movie Recommendations From The May 20, 2018 Weekend Box Office

Most people will probably enjoy Deadpool 2 but beware. It is Certified Cringeworthy.

In May 2016 I wrote a piece about a website called cringeMDB. The premise behind the website is that there are movies that would make you cringe if you saw them with your parents or vice versa with your kids. The number one movie at the box office this weekend is Deadpool 2. Not only is it a box office success, but it has also been favorably reviewed by critics and audiences alike. It is a movie that many of us will want to see when we get a chance. Just don’t see it with your family. It is Certified Cringeworthy. The original Deadpool was 90.4% Cringeworthy which means that nearly everyone who saw the movie felt it was unsafe to see either with their parents or their kids. Deadpool 2 should be similarly cringeworthy.

The second new movie of interest is Book Club. Like the movies I mentioned last week, this is another movie with big IMDB splits between men and women. Unlike those other movies, Book Club has pretty high ratings for women. While men give the movie a 5.9 average IMDB rating, women give it a very strong 7.7 average rating. This movie should do very well with its target audience, older women.

The third new movie in the top ten this weekend is Show Dogs. The early feedback from critics and audiences is that this movie is pretty bad and, despite a decent opening weekend, is probably headed to the 2018 movie graveyard.

Next weekend, Memorial Day, is one of the biggest of the year at the movies. Solo: A Star Wars Movie is expected to dominate the weekend box office. Check in next Monday to see if its worth the hype.

I’m Taking a Sabbatical…Sort Of

The lesser known but highly awarded Hitchcock classic, Rebecca, is one of three movies on my Watch List this week that women will probably “really like” more than men will.

With Memorial Day on the horizon and summer days not far behind, I’ve decided it’s time for a sabbatical, of sorts. Merriam-Webster defines “sabbatical”  as “a break or change from the normal routine” and that is what I’m doing. I’m discontinuing my Thursday post for the summer. Between a busy summer planned and a desire to make more progress on my objective database than I have so far, I’ve decided two posts a week is too much for now. I do plan on continuing my Monday Box Office Top Ten recommendations as my schedule permits. If an idea grabs me, I may even post it. This is why I call it a “sort” of sabbatical.

I’ve got a lot of ideas but a fair test of those ideas really needs a completed objective database. That will be my focus over the summer months. One idea that I’m playing with is developing a separate objective “really like” probability for men and women. My movie watch list for this week is a first pass at the idea. Presently, women like Avengers: Infinity War as much as men do even though it is a male oriented movie. With the exception of Do the Right Thing, the remaining movies on the Watch List are movies that women will probably like more than men will . Rebecca, an Alfred Hitchcock lesser known classic with ten Oscar nominations, is the best of the bunch. The last two movies appeal to women of different ages. Amanda Knox appeals to the younger set while Still Mine is aimed at AARP female members.

One of the things you’ll notice is that there isn’t much of a gap between the male and female probabilities for each movie. This gets to the point I made earlier about needing to pick up the pace in terms of completing the database. There isn’t enough data yet to create much space between the probabilities. I’m anxious to really get this moving so that the gender differences can become a more meaningful tool. That means more time spent on data and less on writing.

On to the sabbatical. Sort of.

Recommendations From the May 13 Weekend Box Office Top Ten

Life of the Party is just one of the Box Office Top Ten this week with big male-female splits on IMDB

This week’s top ten at the box office has an interesting demographic characteristic. While men are flocking to Avengers: Infinity War, women friendly movies are dominating the rest of the top ten. Every movie other than the Avengers has a higher female IMDB score than the male score.

IMDB Avg. Rating
Female Male Female Difference
Avengers: Infinity War 8.8 8.8 0.0
Life of the Party 6.9 5.0 1.9
Breaking In 6.4 4.6 1.8
Overboard 6.4 4.9 1.5
A Quiet Place 8.1 8.0 0.1
I Feel Pretty 6.5 3.8 2.7
Rampage 6.8 6.3 0.5
Tully 7.5 7.3 0.2
Black Panther 8.1 7.4 0.7
RBG 8.6 7.5 1.1
Total Excl. Avengers 7.3 6.1 1.2

The 1.2 IMDB average rating difference for all of the movies in the top ten excluding the Avengers movie is actually a very big differential. The female average rating is 19.2% higher than the male rating.

Now it could be that women, for whatever reason, tend to rate movies higher than men. My analysis of the historical data suggests that isn’t the case. In fact male and female ratings tend to be pretty close on average. I admit, though, that I haven’t looked at recent data. It is possible that more liberal voting by women in recent years is possible.

Another explanation is that it was a decision by studios to release more female oriented movies as counter programming against the Avengers expected domination of the male market.

The most hopeful explanation is that studios are coming to the realization that women are becoming more of a force in the movie market. Women are increasing their influence over which movies get seen. The response from studios is a conscious decision to make more female friendly movies. Disney certainly seems to get this as evidenced by the female appeal they are building into their male targeted Marvel and Star Wars franchises.


Two movies from the top ten flying under the radar are Tully and RBG. If you’ve already seen Black Panther, Avengers, and Quiet Place, these are the movies that should be next on your list.


Flying From Blossom to Blossom to Blossom

Like Yul Brynner’s King of Siam, I’m flying from blossom to blossom to blossom this week.

In the 1956 classic The King and I, the King tries to explain to Anna the polygamous nature of men and the monogamous nature of women by use of an old Siamese saying. The saying goes: “A girl is like a blossom, with honey for just one man. A man is like a honey bee and gather all he can. To fly from blossom to blossom a honey bee must be free. But blossom must not ever fly from bee to bee to bee.” Now, that way of thinking didn’t fly with Anna nor would it find a sympathetic ear today. Despite that, today, I feel like the honey bee. But, instead of blossoms, I’m flying from topic to topic to topic.


Box Office Mojo reported Tuesday that April had a record month for box office revenue, topping $1 billion for the first time ever for the month of April. February similarly had a record breaking month. These are traditionally quiet months at the box office. Here’s the question. Are they quiet months because people don’t want to go to the movies during these months or is it because producers traditionally don’t release movies that people want to see during these months? Disney gambled that it was the latter and that gamble has paid off big time. Disney released Black Panther in February and Avengers: Infinity War in April and movie fans came out in record numbers. Are these movies breaking records because of the lack of competition? Maybe. But we won’t really know, will we, until other studios make the same gamble as Disney and really test whether fans are drawn to movie quality in whatever month it is released.


One of my favorite websites to visit this time of year is Awards Circuit Oscar Predictions. Even though it’s over eight months until the next Academy Awards presentation, this site doesn’t shy away from making an assessment of which movies are Oscar caliber. As of now, they are predicting a rematch between the two directors whose movies were both announced (one mistakenly) as the Best Picture of 2016, Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) and Damien Chazelle (LA LA Land). Jenkins is bringing James Baldwin’s novel, If Beale Street Could Talk, to the Oscar race. And, Chazelle is again teaming with Ryan Gosling to present, First Man, a biopic of Neil Armstrong, who famously took “a small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” in August of 1969. Nobody has seen these films and so their ranking of 1 and 2 on the list probably has more to do with what happened at the 2017 Oscars than anything specific about the movie. Regardless, it is fun to look ahead to the buzz-worthy movies being released later in the year.


I was watching a movie commentary show last week in which one of the guests brought up how different it is for today’s at home movie viewer than it was in the pre-cable TV era. Tonight, when you sit down to watch a movie, you will literally have over a thousand movies to choose from and still you will have trouble deciding what to watch. It made me think of a time, many years ago, when, as a young movie fan, I was thrilled to have a single contemporary movie shown on TV each week.

On September 23, 1961 NBC Saturday Night at the Movies premiered. At the time, it took years for a theatrical movie to be released for television viewing. The classic movie Ben-Hur, for example, took twelve years to be released for television broadcast. What was unique about Saturday Night at the Movies was that the network allocated two hours of programming (more if needed) to show the movie in its entirety. Prior to this, movies were edited to fit into one and a half hour time slots, commercials included, for local programming. It was not unusual to have 10% to 15% of the original movie cut to accommodate the time slot. Not only did Saturday Night at the Movies show the entire movie, they also committed to showing only movies released after 1950 to assure it would be a “recent” movie.

NBC Saturday Night at the Movies became a hit. It became “must see” TV. Families scheduled their evening at home around the movie. They didn’t choose the movie. The movie chose them. And, we didn’t care. It was a different time.


Recommendations from the May 6 Weekend Box Office Top Ten

Overboard made a splash this weekend but Tully is the movie you should see.

I posted the weekend Box Office update this morning. Three new movies moved into the top ten this week. Overboard made the biggest “splash” with its second place finish. Women seem to like this remake of the 1987 Goldie Hawn/ Kurt Russell film of the same name but they don’t love it.

The horror thriller Bad Samaritan opened in tenth place. There’s not enough data to make a definitive assessment of the film but early on its appeal is to women.

The third new movie of the weekend, Tully, finished a disappointing sixth with $3.2 million in receipts for the weekend. For my money, though, this is the movie with “really like” potential. This is the third collaboration of director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody (JunoYoung Adult). It has received strong ratings from Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. Even though it has drawn and audience of predominately women over thirty, other demographic groups have given it solid ratings on IMDB.

If you’re going to the movies this week to see something other than Avengers: Infinity War, throw the other movies “overboard” and buy tickets for Tully.

FilmStruck Fills in the Gap for Classic Movie Streaming

Splendor in the Grass is just one of the hard to find Hollywood Classics available on FilmStruck

Those of you who follow this blog are familiar with the fact that I am pretty obsessive in my collection of movie data. Before I’ll even consider watching a movie its data must suggest that there is a fairly high probability that I will “really like” it. I have a rolling list of around 360 movies that meet this high probability threshold and from these 360 movies I select 5 movies each week for my Watch List. And, finally, from these 5 movies comes the 3 or 4 movies I actually watch each week. Crazy, right?

One of the things I’ve been noticing is that, when you watch over a hundred movies each year, you end up watching most of the “really like” contemporary movies because that’s what is most available on the movie channels and the popular streaming services. That doesn’t mean that those services ignore the classics. It’s just that their inventory tends to be limited to the most popular classics. The end result is that my list of 360 “really like” movie candidates is becoming top heavy with Hollywood classics, not because there are more “really like” movies from that era, but because there are fewer of those movies being shown on the traditional sources of movie streaming.

At last, I’ve found a streaming service to fill in the gap. Filmstruck combines movies from the Turner Classic Movie library and the Criterion Collection. These movies range from Hollywood classics to independent and art house films. If you click on the link above it will take you to the home page. At the bottom of that page is a link to their library of available content. One of the things you will notice is that the library of movies is pretty extensive and eclectic.

For me, FilmStruck provides 30 movies available to watch right now of the 360 movie candidates on my list. If you go to my Watch List for this week, you’ll see 5 of those 30 movies. All 5 movies are Oscar nominated with 5 wins and 24 nominations within the group. The Year of Living Dangerously boosted the early careers of Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver. In Splendor in the Grass, Warren Beatty made the successful jump from the TV show The Many Lives of Dobie Gillis to the Silver Screen. His co-star Natalie Wood was nominated for Best Actress for Splendor in the Grass, following up on her previous Best Supporting Actress nomination for another movie on the list, Rebel Without a Cause. The remaining two movies on my Watch List, Separate Tables and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, were each nominated for Best Picture among their, combined, 12 Oscar nominations.

If these five highly-credentialed movies were contemporary movies, they would be on everybody’s “must see” list. Now they are rarely seen because of limited availability. With FilmStruck on my Roku these five movies and other classics like them are  “really like” opportunities with the same availability as their contemporaries.



Recommendations From the Weekend Box Office Top Ten for the Weekend Ending April 29, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War overwhelmed the box office this past weekend. Should everyone go out and see it?

I’ve begun a weekly exercise of looking at the weekend’s movie box office results and making recommendations based on the feedback data from critics and audiences. Many of you receive this blog by email and don’t visit the site and may be missing these updates. Starting this week I’m posting a link to the results, usually on Monday, with a brief commentary. Here’s the link.

Obviously, the big news of the week is the incredible $250 million that Avengers: Infinity War brought in over the weekend. The box office for the remaining nine movies was on life support in comparison. The second place movie, A Quiet Place, took in only $10.7 million in receipts.

Despite this dominance, I’m not ready to recommend this movie for all audiences yet. Don’t get me wrong. This is a strong movie with solid critical support and a “really like” response from all demographic groups who’ve seen the movie. The casual moviegoer, though, hasn’t checked in yet. Almost 50% of the IMDB data so far is from Males under 30. I’d like to see a little more of a diverse sample before giving a full throated endorsement. The IMDB data for Black Panther, by comparison, is made up of only 35% males under 30. For now, I’m comfortable saying that, if you think you’ll like Avengers: Infinity War, you probably will. If you’re not sure, check in next week for my update.

Why I Write.

Not enough of our big budget summer movie options measure up in quality to the Marvel or Star Wars franchises.

Everyone expects Avengers: Infinity War, which is widely released in the U.S. tomorrow, to dominate the box office for the next four weeks until Disney’s other can’t miss blockbuster, Solo: A Star Wars Story, takes over on May 25th. Disney moved Infinity War up a week from its original release date to give the movie one additional week to dominate the box office before other big budget competition begins to divide up fans of the big screen.

I will admit that I am excited about seeing Avengers: Infinity War. I grew up a Marvel comic book geek and so far MCU has successfully translated the humor and the humanity of the characters from their pages to the screen. Too often though movies with big budgets spend much of those budget dollars trying to convince us that we should “really like” the movie they created rather than creating the movie we will “really like”. When the expensive product created doesn’t match the creative vision, they plan advertising campaigns to induce the viewing public to bail them out.

As we crash headlong into another blockbuster season, I hope that the industry has more surprises for us this summer. I hope that there are more under the radar summer classics such as Hell or High Water or The Big Sick that overcome the hype of the big budget movie ad campaigns to capture the attention of lovers of quality films. I hope that there are several of these movies and not just one or two. I hope that audiences reject the big budget films that aren’t of the quality of the Marvel and Star Wars franchises. That is how the overall quality of the films available for us to see get better. Movie producers make the movies that they think that people will go to see. If we go to the theater to see more “really like” movies, they will make more “really like” movies.

This is my mission. I want to warn you off of the over-hyped mediocrity of big budget misfires and lead you to the gems that are hidden in plain sight. I do this, not by solely telling you what movies I’ve seen and “really like”, but by consolidating and analyzing the data from the movies that you and other lovers of film have seen and “really like”. In this way, I hope to do my little part in improving the quality of what’s available for us to see and suggest to you what other enthusiasts are identifying as movies that you might “really like”.

This is why I write.