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.

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.

 

 

 

Unfocused Does Not Mean an Absence of Ideas.

I’ve been very unfocused this week. Perhaps it’s the jetlag from my return trip from the West Coast. Perhaps it’s because my granddaughter not only shared her love but also her cold (believe me, the love is worth the cold). Perhaps it’s the Springtime in February weather we’ve been experiencing on the East Coast this week. For whatever reason, I’ve been unable to focus on a single theme for this week’s “really like” post. But, that’s okay. I can make unfocused, half-baked ideas about “really like” movies work.

I’ve been very unfocused this week. Perhaps it’s the jetlag from my return trip from the West Coast. Perhaps it’s because my granddaughter not only shared her love but also her cold (believe me, the love is worth the cold). Perhaps it’s the Springtime in February weather we’ve been experiencing on the East Coast this week. For whatever reason, I’ve been unable to focus on a single theme for this week’s “really like” post. But, that’s okay. I can make unfocused, half-baked ideas about “really like” movies work.

I was going to write something insightful about Black Panther only to discover that the airwaves and the internet have been saturated with stories about this cultural phenomenon. Anything I might have to say would get lost in the wave of Black Panther mania. I’d guess that this isn’t the last time that the hype machine will take over our cultural conversation. Some of it will be deserved. It might even be deserved for Black Panther. Its cultural significance is unquestioned. Its greatness as a movie has to meet the test of time. As I did last year for Dunkirk, by throwing down a “great” movie benchmark (Saving Private Ryan) for comparison, we can benchmark Black Panther’s greatness over time. An appropriate benchmark for Black Panther is the gold standard of Comic Book inspired movies, The Dark Knight. That gold standard includes an IMDB average rating of 9.0, a 94% Certified Fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes, an 82 Metascore Rating, an “A” from Cinemascore, and 8 Academy Award nominations including 2 wins. So far Black Panther is exceeding the standard based on scores from Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and CinemaScore and lagging pretty significantly the IMDB standard. We’ll need to wait until next year’s awards season to see how much Oscar love there is for Black Panther. Today, Black Panther is a well established “really like” movie. I’m looking forward to seeing it. Let’s give it a little time to see how it measures up to the established greats like the Dark Knight series.

I also thought about posting an Academy Award related theme but decided to hold off a week on that one. I am doing an special Oscar study for next week (That’s a tease folks!). But my unfocused mind has been thinking about this year’s Oscar awards. Last week I watched two Oscar nominated movies, The Shape of Water and Mudbound. I “really liked” Shape of Water but I didn’t love it. I think for this movie to work you need to care about the creature. Don’t get me wrong I cared that the creature was being treated inhumanely. I just didn’t find out enough about the creature to care about him as an individual. On the other hand, I really cared about Elisa (Sally Hawkins) which is why I liked the movie. But, to really care about a movie relationship I think you need to care about both people in the relationship. Thus, my ambivalence about the movie.

Mudbound, on the other hand, was a revelation. I loved it. With as many movies that have been made about American race relations, it is difficult to find a story that is fresh. Mudbound is fresh and well told. I have not seen this story on the screen before. After seeing Mudbound, I began to think about how underrepresented it is in the Academy Award nominations. Is it because it is a Netflix movie? The Netflix model is to release movies in theaters overseas and on its streaming platform in the United States. Does Hollywood penalize movies owned by Netflix because of this model? I’m just wondering.

Finally, I was thinking about the movie wasteland that exists between now and the beginning of blockbuster season in May. It is not historically a good time for new “really like” movies to get released. Some ” really like” movies do, though, and I make it my personal mission to pan for that nugget of movie gold worth watching. This weekend I have my eye on two new releases, Annihilation and Game Night. Early Rotten Tomatoes reviews are promising for both. Stay tuned.

So, as you can see, I was a little unfocused this week. Just don’t mistake that for an absence of ideas.

 

In February, Hope for the Unexpected

Unless you are still catching up with the Oscar nominated movies that you haven’t seen, February can be a tricky month for finding “really like” movies at the theaters. The winter months of January, February, and March don’t lure many moviegoers to the cinema. The average domestic box office gross for a movie widely released in February is a little over $28 million. For the entire year the average gross for a typical movie is in excess of $38 million. As a result, movie producers don’t release many movies that they’ve invested heavily in. You can see this in the size of the production budgets for February releases. The average February movie has a production budget of around $36 million compared to an average for the year of around $46 million. So should we just stay home and watch “really like” movies available on our streaming services? That’s actually not a bad strategy. I’m kidding! Well maybe a little bit

Unless you are still catching up with the Oscar nominated movies that you haven’t seen, February can be a tricky month for finding “really like” movies at the theaters. The winter months of January, February, and March don’t lure many moviegoers to the cinema. The average domestic box office gross for a movie widely released in February is a little over $28 million. For the entire year the average gross for a typical movie is in excess of $38 million. As a result, movie producers don’t release many movies that they’ve invested heavily in during the month of February. You can see this in the size of the production budgets for February releases. The average February movie has a production budget of around $36 million compared to an average for the year of around $46 million. So should we just stay home and watch “really like” movies available on our streaming services? That’s actually not a bad strategy. I’m kidding! Well maybe a little bit.

Seriously though, February is a tricky month but it’s not hopeless. Movie producers are skilled at finding a strategy that works at different times of year and sticking with it. For example in recent years, February has proven to be a good month to successfully kick off franchises for lesser known comic book characters like Deadpool and  Kingsman: The Secret Service. This year Marvel is kicking off the new franchise Black Panther in February. It premiered in Los Angeles on January 29th and opens overseas on February 13th before opening widely in the United States on February 16th. The early IMDB score is a promising 7.5. We won’t know if that rating is holding up until we get closer to the US opening. Stay tuned.

Many Oscar nominated movies for Best Foreign Language film weren’t released in the United States until the February after their overseas release to see if they could transform Oscar buzz into US Box Office success. The foreign classic Life is Beautiful was released in the United States in February. This year it is A Fantastic Woman, which opens in the US tomorrow, that is getting the buzz. The good thing about this foreign slice of February releases is that they already have a significant body of data from their prior year release overseas. A Fantastic Woman is Certified Fresh 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, has a Metacritic score of 90, and an IMDB average rating of 7.5.

If you are looking for an Oscar caliber movie in February, the odds are against you. Silence of the Lambs is the only movie released for the first time in February (not a prior year holdover) to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. If Get Out wins Best Picture this year it will become the second February release to do so. The one thing that both movies have in common is that they both had modest production budgets. Silence of the Lambs had a budget of $19 million and Get Out had a budget of $4.5 million. The other thing that they have in common is that they are both from the Horror/Thriller genre. The third thing they have in common was that their success was unexpected. I don’t see any movie on the February release schedule that I would expect to be this year’s Get Out, which, I guess, would make the emergence of such a movie, well, unexpected.