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.

 

If You Are Going to the Movies, What Should You See?

Rampage is an action movie that you would expect to be a “guy movie” but should guys go out and see it?

Last week I introduced the concept of a demographic footprint for individual movies. Nice idea, but what good is it? The Way We Were is on my watch list this week. It’s this week’s Friday Night Movie with my wife. Here’s its demographic footprint:

The Way We Were
Gender Target Gender Friendly Age Target Age Friendly Objective “Really Like” Probability
Female Female 30+ 30+ 72.6%

Not much of an insight is it? It’s telling you that it’s a “chick flick”. And, because it was released in 1973, it has greater appeal to older women who nostalgically remember the way it was the first time they saw the movie. The reality is that, if you are familiar with a movie, you know who the movie appeals to without having that knowledge confirmed statistically. But, what about movies you’re not familiar with?

Rampage was the number one movie at the Box Office last weekend. From trailers you might have seen, you know that it is an action movie that you expect to be a “guy movie” but should guys go out and see it? The early data feedback might suggest otherwise.

Beginning this week, I’m using Objective “Really Like” Probability data and Demographic Footprint data to advise you whether going to a movie in last weekend’s Box Office Top Ten is a good bet and, if it is, who is it a good bet for. Here’s this week’s list:

Recommendations for the Weekend Box Office Top Ten 
Weekend Ending April 15, 2018
Movie Weekend Box Office “Really Like” Probability? Who Should See it?
Rampage $34.5 62.9% Nobody Yet
A Quiet Place $32.6 70.4% Fans of Horror Thrillers
Truth or Dare $19.1 51.2% Nobody Yet
Ready Player One $11.2 71.7% Fans of Action Adventures
Blockers $10.3 70.4% Young Adult Fans of Comedies
Black Panther $5.3 74.0% Everyone
Isle Of Dogs $5.0 72.2% Fans of Quality Animated Movies
I Can Only Imagine $3.9 69.6% Fans of Faith Based Movies
Acrimony $3.8 54.3% Nobody Yet
Chappaquiddick $3.0 70.4% Grown-Ups Familiar with the Events

In future weeks you’ll find this list on the sidebar of this page.

The “Really Like” Probability column suggests that there are a number of potentially good options at the movies this week. I use 65% as the cut off for whether I recommend a movie or not. Under that criteria there are seven movies worth seeing by someone. The question is whether these seven movies are worth seeing by everybody.

When a movie is first released it takes a little time to develop fully credible data. Rampage was just released last Friday. The jury is still out as to whether it is more than a mediocre movie for even its target demographic. The data for Black Panther is robust. I can say with a lot of confidence that all demographic groups will probably “really like” the movie. For the remaining six recommended movies, there isn’t enough data to recommend the movie beyond the segments identified here.

Movies recently released in the theaters are the movies you are most unfamiliar with. When Rotten Tomatoes gives a new movie a Certified Fresh and IMDB develops an average rating of 7.5 or higher, you can usually feel confident that the movie is a good movie. Those ratings, though, can’t tell you whether it will be a good movie for you.

With this new weekly list I’m introducing, I’m confident that you can go down this list and increase your odds of seeing a movie this week that you will “really like” . Let me know if you agree. Also, let me know if you like the new blog format I’m experimenting with.

 

 

 

What’s This Movie’s Demographic Footprint?

A Quiet Place has attracted a young audience of both males and females

You’re probably looking at this week’s title and saying to yourself, “What is the Mad Movie Man getting us into this week?” Well, thanks to the folks at IMDB who provide demographic data of each movie based on their ratings, we can derive a demographic footprint for each movie.

Wait a minute, didn’t I tell you in these pages that IMDB ratings are skewed heavily towards men. I did. I’ll also tell you that the ratings are skewed towards IMDB voters older than 29. Based on my data sample, only 18.6% of all votes on IMDB are female votes. Additionally, only 38.8% of all votes are from movie fans under 30.   By scaling this data to the averages, we can begin to neutralize the biases of the data. From this data I can create the following scales:

Female % of IMDB Vote
“guy movie” Gender Neutral “Chick flick”
< 14%  14% – 23.3%  > 23.3%
Age < 30 % of IMDB Vote
“young adult’s  movie” Age Neutral “grown-ups movie”
< 29.1%  29.1% – 48.5%  > 48.5%

Additionally, IMDB provides average ratings by demographic group. We can use this data to determine if any particular group tends to like a movie more than others.

So, how would this work? Let’s say you are going to the movies this weekend and you are trying to decide which movie to see. The three movies below are all quality movies.

 

Movie Gender Orientation Gender Friendly Age Orientation Age Friendly
A Quiet Place Neutral Female < 30 30+
Ready Player One Male Neutral Neutral 30+
Love, Simon Female Female < 30 Neutral

Which movie you decide to see comes down to who you are going to see the movie with. There really aren’t any bad choices here. There are just more informed choices. A Quiet Place has attracted a young audience of both males and females but women and voters over 29 tend to like it more than the target audience. Ready Player One is a “guy” movie that women don’t seem to mind and older audiences seem to like more than younger audiences. And, Love, Simon is geared towards a young female audience that all ages seem to like. Which movie best fits your demographic footprint and the footprint of whoever is joining you at the movies should lead you to the best decision.

I’m excited about sharing this perspective on a given movie. I’ve already incorporated it into my weekly movie watch list. I’ll be incorporating this movie view into other lists I’ll be creating in the near future. I hope you find the approach useful. If you agree let me know.

 

 

Until Saturday

For those of you who expect a post from me every Thursday like clockwork, I’ll be away for a couple of days. I will be posting on Saturday.

Those of you who return on Saturday will be rewarded with the answer to the question “Did you know that each movie has a demographic footprint?” I think you’ll find it interesting.

Just Because a Movie Is Female Friendly Doesn’t Make It Female Oriented

Empowered women may make Star Wars: The Last Jedi a female friendly movie. At the end of the day, though, it is still a “guy movie”

Last Thursday I published the 2017 Objective Top Twenty. I promptly got blasted by my most important follower…my wife. She took one look at the list and said, “With the exception of Beauty and the Beast, these are all guy movies. That’s unacceptable.” I pointed out that six of the twenty received higher ratings from women than men. She replied, “It doesn’t matter. They are still guy movies.” As I thought about it, I agreed she was right. The movies may be female friendly but they are not movies that a woman would necessarily go to without being dragged there by some man. I had to fix this.

The first thing I did was profile the IMDB gender distribution of all of the movies on the list of movies considered for the top twenty. The first thing I discovered was that women, on average, rated the sample 3 points higher than men. When I leveled the ratings of the two groups it reduced the female friendly movies on the list from six to four. The second thing I discovered was that female IMDB votes make up only 17.4% of the entire sample. When we look again at the female percentage of all of the IMDB votes for Star Wars: The Last Jedi we discover that the female participation is a paltry 12.3% of the total. It’s definitely a guy movie. But, even when we level the ratings to compensate for the higher overall ratings of women, the female adjusted average rating for Star Wars is still 7.7 against a male rating of 7.5. This makes Star Wars: The Last Jedi a Male Oriented but Female Friendly movie.

Next I went in search of the 2017 movie that epitomizes “chick flick”, that movie which would make many men check their testosterone at the door. I came up with Girls Trip. Females still only make up 40.8% of all Girls Trip IMDB voters but it is significantly higher than the 17.4% for the entire sample. The adjusted average female rating for Girls Trip is 6.8. The male average rating is 5.9. This movie might be classified as Female Oriented and very Female Friendly.

I’m considering using the percentage of IMDB votes to classify movies as Male Oriented, Gender Neutral, or Female Oriented. Using this approach, the list of 2017 movies that are Female Oriented  and eligible for the Objective Top Twenty might include these movies:

2017 Released Movies Female % of All IMDB Votes
Beauty and the Beast  38.2%
Greatest Showman, The 36.6%
Hidden Figures 31.4%
Wonder 28.3%
Lion 26.7%
Lady Bird 26.5%
Coco 23.1%
Murder on the Orient Express 23.0%
Shape of Water, The 22.9%
Okja 22.3%

I believe that these movies pass the eye test as female oriented movies but first … I better ask my wife.