What Twenty Movies From 2017 Will You “Really Like”?

Dunkirk is #2 on the 2017 Objective “Really Like” Top Twenty

When someone sets out to make a list of the movies that you, the movie enthusiast, will probably “really like”, the compiler of the list starts out with a significant disadvantage. The person creating the list doesn’t have any idea what kind of movies you, specifically, really like. So the list, almost by definition, has to be made up of movies that have mass appeal. Mass appeal isn’t enough though. Justice League was the 10th highest grossing movie at the box office last year but it doesn’t belong on this list. It wasn’t a very good movie. My criteria is simple. An Objective Top Twenty-worthy movie has been seen by a lot of movie viewers, earned critical acclaim, and those who have seen the movie have “really liked” it. I think there were 26 movies in 2017 that met that simple criteria. But, a top twenty can only have twenty movies.

Here’s my 2017 Objective Top Twenty:

2017 Objective Top Twenty
As Of March 29, 2018
2017 Released Movies  Academy Award Points  # of IMDB Votes Rotten Tomatoes % Fresh Cinema Score Metacritic Objective “Really Like” Probability
Star Wars: The Last Jedi                   4.0    344,932 91% A 85 75.65%
Dunkirk                   8.3    370,530 93% A- 94 75.49%
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2                   1.0    354,476 83% A 67 75.33%
Get Out                   4.1    284,533 99% A- 84 75.13%
Baby Driver                   3.0    282,234 93% A- 86 75.13%
Fate of the Furious, The                     –    156,915 66% A 56 74.76%
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri                   7.2    194,450 92% NR 88 74.72%
Blade Runner 2049                    5.2    269,568 87% A- 81 74.24%
Wind River                     –    111,829 87% NR 73 73.76%
Kong: Skull Island                   1.0    198,846 75% B+ 62 73.65%
Wonder Woman                     –    391,299 92% A 76 73.53%
Thor: Ragnarok                     –    280,784 92% A 74 73.53%
Spider-Man: Homecoming                     –    295,065 92% A 73 73.53%
Logan                   1.0    463,842 93% A- 77 73.38%
Alien: Covenant                     –    191,925 67% B 65 73.04%
War for the Planet of the Apes                    1.0    162,154 93% A- 82 72.88%
John Wick: Chapter 2                     –    220,753 89% A- 75 71.93%
It                     –    259,121 85% B+ 69 71.93%
Split                     –    256,100 75% B+ 62 71.93%
Beauty and the Beast                    2.0    202,321 71% A 65 71.92%
Movies with Female IMDB Rating at least .2 points > Male Rating are in Bold
Movies with Male IMDB Rating at least .2 points > Female Rating are Underlined

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the movie that I can say with the greatest confidence that you, no matter who “you” is, will “really like”. Even with that, there are about 24% of you who probably won’t “really like” this movie. It’s up to you to figure out where you probably fit.

I’m sure that you’re reaction to the list is similar to my reaction to the list. Some of the movies on the list I’ve seen, or I’m interested in seeing, and others I have no interest in seeing. That’s okay. My hope is that you will use the list to identify those movies you’ve been thinking of seeing and feel confident that there’s a high probability that you will “really like” the movie experience. I’ve personally seen nine of the twenty movies and “really liked” all of them. There’s a handful of the remaining movies on the list that I plan on seeing. There’s another handful that I probably won’t see anytime soon.

Also, the list is dynamic. Because it’s data-based, it can change over time. Movies rise and fall as they get exposed to a broader audience. Two of my favorite movies of 2017, Lady Bird and The Big Sick aren’t in the top twenty. Academy Award Best Picture winner The Shape of Water didn’t make the cut. Those three movies have the data to support inclusion from a quality standpoint but haven’t been seen enough yet. A year from now that could change. For now, the data is what the data is.

Enjoy the list. Use it as just another data point in your quest to select movies that you will “really like”.

 

 

 

After the First Weekend, Think Small For August “Really Like” Movies

Easily the most anticipated movie release this August is the DC Comics movie Suicide Squad. Tracking numbers suggest that this could be the first August release to ever do $100,000,000+ at the box office in its opening weekend. The key piece of information in the last sentence isn’t that this high budget blockbuster movie is expected to do well. The key piece of information is that it could be the “first” August release to be a $100 million movie on opening weekend. August hasn’t historically been a good movie box office month

Easily the most anticipated movie release this August is the DC Comics movie Suicide Squad. Tracking numbers suggest that this could be the first August release to ever do $100,000,000+ at the box office in its opening weekend. The key piece of information in the last sentence isn’t that this high budget blockbuster movie is expected to do well. The key piece of information is that it could be the “first” August release to be a $100 million movie on opening weekend. August hasn’t historically been a good movie box office month. From 2011 to 2015, monthly box office sales averaged about $890 million a month. Over the same time frame, the August average box office was around $767 million, a below average month. It hasn’t typically been a month that is kind to blockbusters. In 2014, Disney struck gold with the August 1 release of the Marvel product, Guardians of the Galaxy  with a total gross sales of over $333 million against a $170 million budget. The following year Twentieth Century Fox tried to copy Guardians’ success by releasing the reboot of the Marvel comic creation Fantastic Four. It bombed, taking in a little over $56 million in total box office against a $120 million budget. Suicide Squad may very well determine the future of the first weekend in August as a launching pad for blockbusters.

You can find “really like” movies in every month. August is no different. Here are my top “really like” movies released in August:

Budget
Rear Window  $           1,000,000
In the Heat of the Night  $           2,000,000
Fugitive, The  $         44,000,000
Searching for Bobby Fischer  Not available
Sixth Sense, The  $         40,000,000

While all of these movies are excellent movies, August hasn’t been a particularly good month for “really like” movies. There is only a 41.9% probability that a movie released in August will be a “really like” movie for me.

Of the top 100 movies on IMDB’s Top Rated Movies list, only 4 were released in August, and all 4 were released over 35 years ago. Since the year 2000, there have been 106 Best Picture nominees. Only 4 were released in August:

Budget
The Help  $         25,000,000
District 9  $         30,000,000
Inglorious Basterds  $         75,000,000
Boyhood  $           4,000,000

The movies of quality released in August, prior to Guardians of the Galaxy, were typically low to modestly high budget movies. This makes sense when the month averages a below average box office.

Last year’s top August movies in terms of box office were:

Gross (000000) Budget (000000)
Straight Outta Compton $161.20  $                     28.00
War Room $67.80  $                       3.00
Fantastic Four $56.10  $                   120.00
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. $45.40  $                     75.00
The Gift $43.80  $                       5.00

The high budget movies bombed. The low budget movies succeeded.

You’ll need to come back on Thursday to see whether I think the Suicide Squad gamble will produce a “really like” movie. Beyond that I’ll be looking for modestly budgeted movies for my potential “really like” gems.

Do July Movies Crackle or Fizzle?

In the United States, the highlight of the month of July is the celebration of Independence Day on the 4th of July. It is commemorated by parades, cook outs, and firework spectaculars. For readers of this blog, though, you may be wondering if the movies released in July crackle like the firework displays put on in the cities claiming the mantle, “cradle of liberty” (Boston, New York and Philadelphia), or do they fizzle out like damp Roman Candles launched in your neighbor’s back yard. I’m happy to report that not only is July National Hot Dog Month in the U.S., it is also a pretty good month most years for movies

In the United States, the highlight of the month of July is the celebration of Independence Day on the 4th of July. It is commemorated by parades, cook outs, and firework spectaculars. For readers of this blog, though, you may be wondering if the movies released in July crackle like the firework displays put on in the cities claiming the mantle, “cradle of liberty” (Boston, New York and Philadelphia), or do they fizzle out like damp Roman Candles launched in your neighbor’s back yard. I’m happy to report that not only is July National Hot Dog Month in the U.S., it is also a pretty good month most years for movies.

Like June, July is a big month at the box office. For the five year period from 2011 to 2015, ticket sales per movie averaged $15.91 million. Over the same five year period ticket sales for movies released in July averaged $22.13 million, very close to June’s $22.45 million. Where June and July part ways is in the quality of the movies released. Of the top 75 movies  in IMDB’s Top 250, ten of them were released in July, compared to five in June. Based on the movies I’ve seen over the last 15 years, there is a 53.6% probability I will “really like” a movie released in July compared to 36.1% for June releases. Here are my top five “really like” July movie releases:

Oscar Noms. Oscar Wins Best Picture Noms
When Harry Met Sally 1
Saving Private Ryan 12 5 1
Dark Knight, The 8 2
Seabiscuit 7 1
Die Hard 4

All, with the possible exception of the very good Seabiscuit, are considered iconic by most film buffs and were strong Academy Award performers. Throw in Inception with its 8 nominations, including Best Picture, and 4 Academy Award wins, and the list is even more impressive. Based on the evidenced presented here, we might conclude that July movie releases crackle.

Let’s not be hasty, though. In the last ten years, of the 78 movies nominated for Best Picture, only Inception and The Dark Knight were released in July, a paltry 2.6% of the total. Take a look at last year’s top five July Box Office Movies and you begin to wonder, where’s the crackle?

Top Movies IMDB Avg Rating Rotten Tomatoes
Minions 6.4 Rotten 56%
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation 7.5 Cert. Fresh 93%
Ant-Man 7.4 Cert. Fresh 81%
Trainwreck 6.3 Cert. Fresh 85%
Terminator: Genisys 6.6 Rotten 26%

Of these five movies, only Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and Ant-Man are “really like” prospects. Neither is destined to be labeled iconic. There isn’t a single Academy Award nomination of any kind in the group. 2014 wasn’t much better with only one nomination among the top five July releases. Does this mean that July used to crackle but now it fizzles?  I think a two year sample isn’t large enough to declare a trend but it’s worth watching.

On Thursday, I’ll take a shot at identifying five movies that have the potential to crackle this July. With five July weekends this year the odds are in our favor. Like every month, though, there will be movies that you expect to crackle but, like that damp Roman Candle, will fizzle out.

Franchise Action Movies are Gold

The story isn’t the impact of bad reviews on this particular movie but the box office immunity that franchise action movies have in general. They come with a built in audience that will show up regardless of how the movie is reviewed

X-Men: Apocalypse dominated the box office this Memorial Day weekend taking in $65.3 million in ticket sales. It also received a less than enthusiastic response from the critics, earning a 49% Rotten grade from Rotten Tomatoes. Does this mean that Rotten Tomatoes has little impact on how well a movie does at the box office? Absolutely not. X-Men: Days of Future Past received a 91% Certified Fresh Rating when it opened on Memorial Day weekend in 2014 and took in $90.8 million in ticket sales. The latest entry into the X-Men franchise underperformed its predecessor by 28% at the box office for the same holiday weekend. I suspect much of that deficit was due to the lukewarm reviews X-Men: Apocalypse received.

The story isn’t the impact of bad reviews on this particular movie but the box office immunity that franchise action movies have in general. They come with a built in audience that will show up regardless of how the movie is reviewed. The following is a list of the top ten U.S. box office performers for action movies including their Rotten Tomatoes grades:

Release Year US Box Office (000000) Rotten Tomatoes Grade % Fresh
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens 2015 $937 Certified Fresh 92%
Avatar 2009 $761 Certified Fresh 83%
Jurassic World 2015 $652 Fresh 72%
The Avengers 2012 $623 Certified Fresh 92%
The Dark Knight 2008 $533 Certified Fresh 94%
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace 1999 $475 Rotten 56%
Star Wars 1977 $461 Certified Fresh 94%
Avengers: Age of Ultron 2015 $459 Certified Fresh 75%
The Dark Knight Rises 2012 $448 Certified Fresh 87%
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest 2006 $423 Rotten 54%

These box office behemoths have combined for $5.8 billion in ticket sales. Three of these blockbusters aren’t graded Certified Fresh and a fourth, The Avengers: Age of Ultron just barely qualifies as Certified Fresh. What all of these movies have in common is that they are all part of movie franchises. Avatar 2, 3, 4, & 5 are scheduled for release between 2018 and 2023, in case you were wondering why Avatar is considered a franchise. Only Star Wars and Avatar didn’t come with a built in audience from a previous movie in the franchise. Eight of the ten movies were released during Movie Blockbuster season. The other two, Avatar and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, were released during Movie Award season, earning 14 Academy Award nominations and 3 wins. These movies have a combined IMDB rating of 8.2 for males and 8.1 for females. There is little gender gap for this genre.

Franchise Action Movies are  box office gold for the good, the bad, and the ugly (a reference to a franchise of a different genre).

Will June 2016 Movies be “Really Likeable”?

As I mentioned in my last post, based on my past experience, there is only a 36.1% chance that I will “really like” a movie released in June. With the odds against me, I set out to discover if I could find five movies with the potential to be “really like” movies. I found four that I feel pretty good about and a fifth that is a stretch. There is something here for a variety of movie tastes

As I mentioned in my last post, based on my past experience, there is only a 36.1% chance that I will “really like” a movie released in June. With the odds against me, I set out to discover if I could find five movies with the potential to be “really like” movies. I found four that I feel pretty good about and a fifth that is a stretch. There is something here for a variety of movie tastes. I will link each movie to its IMDB site to give you more background if you’re interested.

As you might expect, I’m not content to just present these five movies. I’ve attached a probability that they will be a “really like” movie to each. I’ll keep the list on the sidebar with my other movie lists and will update the probabilities throughout the month as more information becomes available. Let’s get started. Here’s my list from the highest probability to the lowest.

Independence Day: Resurgence.  Release Date: June 24   “Really Like” Probability:  45.2%

This sequel to the highly successful  Independence Day (1996) is the blockbuster for the month, coming in with a budget of $200,000,000. It is released, and the story takes place, 20 years after the original. Several characters return for the sequel but not Will Smith’s character, Captain Steven Hiller. Liam Hemsworth steps in to take over the leading man role. There is already a trickling of positive ratings coming in on Movielens and Netflix.

Me Before You.    Release Date: June 3    “Really Like” Probability:  32.6%

In June 2014, Twentieth Century Fox went against the action blockbuster grain and released The Fault in Our Stars, a sentimental movie that appealed to all ages. MGM and New Line Cinema are trying to recreate the magic of 2014 with Me Before You, a similarly sentimental tear-jerker. Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke and Hunger Games’ Sam Claflin should be an attractive couple. We will know a lot more about this movie by its opening on Friday but early reviews and word of mouth are lukewarm. Don’t count out Daenerys Targaryen, mother of dragons, breaker of chains…. She’s been in tight spots before.

Free State of Jones.    Release Date: June 24   “Really Like” Probability:  32.6%

This tiny slice of Civil War history, starring Matthew McConaughey and Kerri Russell, piques my interest because of Director and Screenwriter, Gary Ross. I’ve “really liked” all five movies that I’ve seen of his. The Criticker average score I’ve given Gary Ross written movies is 82.67. The five movies are The Hunger Games, Big, SeabiscuitDave, and Pleasantville. There is very little advance word of mouth for this movie. This is strictly a vote for the pedigree of the Screenwriter and the Actors.

Finding Dory.    Release Date: June 17    “Really Like” Probability:  21.3%

In my last post, I mentioned that families with young children were a target audience for June movie distributors. Just in time for the end of the school year comes Finding Dory, the sequel to Finding Nemo. This is the movie that I’m most confident will see a climb in its “really like” probabilities. For now it reflects a minimal amount of available data. This will probably be the second blockbuster of the month behind Independence Day: Resurgence.

Swiss Army Man.    Release Date: June 24    “Really Like” Probability:  9.9%

This fifth choice is the best of too few viable options. It feels like an Oscar bait movie that is released in the summer because it is too quirky for general audiences. Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel  would fall into this category. It is a buddy picture with 2016 Golden Globe nominee,Paul Dano, playing a castaway and Daniel Radcliffe, of Harry Potter fame, playing the buddy, a rotting, farting corpse. This movie won the Directing Award at Sundance and was nominated for the Grand Jury Award for best dramatic film. It’s been reported that half the audience walked out of the film at Sundance while the other half who stayed loved the movie. Yep, it does sound like a Wes Anderson movie.

Well I hope you like my maiden voyage through the upcoming month in film. Let me know what you thought.

 

 

June Begins Something New

This post ushers in a new series of monthly posts for this blog. For the last two posts of each month I’ll be previewing the next month on the movie calendar. The first post will take a broad look at general trends for the month, using the data analysis you’ve grown accustomed to seeing on these pages

This post ushers in a new series of monthly posts for this blog. For the last two posts of each month I’ll be previewing the next month on the movie calendar. The first post will take a broad look at general trends for the month, using the data analysis you’ve grown accustomed to seeing on these pages. The second post will take a look at the specific movies being released during the month with an eye to identifying the best prospects for “really like” movies.

June has 8.2% of all of the days in the 2016 calendar and over the last five years 8.0% of all of the movies released have been released in June. Nothing startling there. What is noteworthy is that 11.3% of the annual movie theater gross box office sales is from June moviegoers. June generates above average revenue per movie released.

Who are the primary June moviegoers? College students home for summer vacation, with the stress of exam week behind them, are one source of movie traffic unique to June.. In the second half of the month, high school students, celebrating the end of another school year, and parents with younger children, trying to fill the extra hours available to spend with their kids, are another source.

So given the fact that June generates high revenue per movie driven by an influx of under 30 year olds, it shouldn’t be surprising that movies released in June have above average budgets and are targeted at young adults and children. In 2015 the top grossing June releases were:

Top Movies Gross (000000) Budget (000000)
Jurassic World $652.30  $                150.00
Inside Out $356.46  $                175.00
Spy $110.83  $                   65.00
Ted 2 $81.48  $                   68.00
Insidious Chapter 3 $52.22  $                   10.00

These five movies generated a gross box office of $1,253,290,000 against a combined budget of $468,000,000. Can you spell p-r-o-f-i-t-s?

The target audience in June is further reinforced by the IMDB demographic ratings for these five movies:

Under 30 Over 30
Top Movies Votes Rating Votes Rating
Jurassic World               165,019 7.1                 126,828             6.8
Inside Out               145,611                              8.4                   88,683             8.1
Spy                 67,352                            7.2                   53,304             6.9
Ted 2                 50,579                            6.5                   31,434             6.2
Insidious Chapter 3                 22,555                            6.2                   15,109             5.9
 All Five  $           451,116                            7.4  $             315,358             7.1

Under 30s rate these movies consistently higher than over 30s. Both demographics liked Inside Out and neither group was high on Ted 2 or Insidious: Chapter 2.

As a representative of the over 30 group, is June a good month for “really like” movies?  I’d say it’s a below average month. Based on the 168 June movies in my database, there is a 36.1% probability I will “really like” a movie released in June. Of the Top 50 IMDB movies, only 6% were released in June. Of the 43 Academy Award nominated movies for Best Picture over the last five years, only 2 were released in June.

It is just not a great month for adult-oriented movies. That being said, it isn’t a wasteland either. There are a number of movies that qualify as “really like” movies that were released in June. You might recall that movies recommended by all five of the websites I follow qualify as a “really like” movie. Here are five June “really like” movies:

Bourne Identity, The
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Apollo 13
Spider-Man 2
Cinderella Man

These five terrific movies offer up some hope that my search for June gems won’t result in a blank page when I return on Monday.

 

 

Movielens Knows About Your Ratings

Movielens also has a profile on you based on the movie ratings you have provided the website. Unlike so many of the Big Data organizations out there, Movielens shares with you what they know.

In the connected world that we live in, everyone knows us. The NSA, TSA, political campaigns, and Netflix are among the organizations who have profiles on us based on information we’ve supplied on the internet. If you have doubts about this there is a website called AboutTheData.com that will provide you with the data that has been collected on you for the use of various marketing organizations. In the age of Big Data we have sacrificed privacy for the convenience internet access provides us.

Movielens also has a profile on you based on the movie ratings you have provided the website. Unlike so many of the Big Data organizations out there, Movielens shares with you what they know. When you open their website there is a drop down menu right next to their logo. ( MovieLens logo )   The second column in the menu is titled YOUR ACTIVITY. Click on the link titled ABOUT YOUR RATINGS and a page full of graphs and information is provided to you that will offer you insights into your taste in movies.

A review of my ABOUT YOUR RATINGS supplies the following information:

  • December 22, 2006 was the first day I entered movie ratings. I rated 49 movies that day. On May 13, 2016 I rated my 2,009th movie.
  • My most common movie rating is a 4.0 (a “really like” rating) which I’ve given to 494 out of the 2,009 rated movies.
  • 433 of my rated movies were released between 2005 and 20015.
  • Drama is my most watched and favorite genre with 1,371 movies and an average rating of 3.71. The next closest genres were Comedy, 588 movies with 3.48 avg. rating, and Romance, 580 movies with 3.61 average rating. Of genres with at least 100 rated movies, Comedy is my lowest average rated.

ABOUT YOUR RATINGS also provides you with a list of movies that you dislike the most when compared to the average rating. These are my candidates for Razzies (the awards for the worst movies presented the day before the Oscars):

  • Requiem for a Dream (2000)
  • Dancer in the Dark (2000)
  • The Browning Version (1951)
  • Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992)
  • There Will be Blood (2007)
  • The Other Side of the Mountain (2001)
  • The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
  • How Green was my Valley (1941)

My unusual likes (or guilty pleasures) when compared to the average rating are:

  • Saturday Night Fever (1977)
  • The Karate Kid (1984)
  • Titanic (1997)
  • Pretty Woman (1990)
  • Ghost (1990)
  • Notting Hill (1999)
  • Somethings Gotta Give (2003)
  • A League of their Own (1992)

Now you know a lot about my taste in movies. Start rating movies in Movielens and you can discover a great deal about your taste in movies as well.

In the age of Big Data it is refreshing to find an organization with the transparency of Movielens.