A Moonlight TC Analysis
I had some flight time today and used it to try to find some comps for Moonlight we could use to find some edges for the theater count (TC) to come on Thursday. This is by no means exhaustive, but my hope is that it starts some conversation.
I'm assuming here that it has to beat $2.6M to take BP from Doctor Strange, the early leader based on Long Range Forecasts, which might not be valid but go with it for now.
No comp is perfect, but I went looking for films that had a similar rollout in terms of it first two weeks or that matched the Week 2 Per Theater Average (PTA) of $23K and change. With that in mind, I found:
Title|Wk 1 TC|WK 1 PTA|Wk 2 TC|WK 2 PTA|Wk 3 TC|WK 3 PTA
While We Were Young|4|$56,922|34|$14,226|246|$4,927
A Place Beyond The Pines|4|$69,864|30|$23,446|514|$7,521
Inside Llewyn Davis|4|$101,353|15|$23,786|148|$7,307
Now, these aren't great matches in terms of genre, distributor, or even time of year, but I'd argue in this case the rollout is more important. From the above, let's assume the absolute floor PTA for Week 3 of Moonlight is $7K. If that were true, here are Box Office (BO) returns for different TC's at that PTA:
So, if it gets above 375 theaters by this conservative estimate, it gets BP. Obviously if you bump that minimum PTA, the TC drops.
What about the other end? If you assume it needs that $2.6M, what would the PTA be at different TC's:
Of the three comps I found, While We Were Young tracks at a similar line slope to the first two weeks of Moonlight. Week 1 of Moonlight is 1.77x that of While We Were Young and Week 2 is 1.66. If you average those two and apply it to Week 3 of While We Were Young, you get a PTA of $8.4K.
Combining that projection with the last table, I'm arguing that below 300 TC, Moonlight is a risky play.
So to sum up, above 375 you play it, below 300 you don't and in between is grey area.
What am I not thinking of here? What are better comps?
Normally I wouldn't personally bump this, because it's such valuable info IMO. In the spirit of open and fair play, here is a fantastic analysis from who else but our FML NERD. It got buried so quickly that many may have missed it so I didn't want anyone to miss out.
@Nerd - Amazing as always. Don't think you could be more spot on.Nov 1, 2016, 1:47pm PDT
I actually haven't gotten to this. Really solid work. The theater count is really what Moonlight hinges on this week for FMLNov 1, 2016, 1:55pm PDT
Stop bumping this, let's keep it our little secret :)
Nice work!Nov 1, 2016, 2:20pm PDT
Holy bananas, Batman! Great work as always, Nerd!Nov 1, 2016, 2:21pm PDT
Thanks so much for the kind words. Any dissent among others?
Otherwise, I plan on updating the final math in my Wednesday article based on what the pros set the bar at for other films.Nov 1, 2016, 5:59pm PDT
How do you feel about Milk being a comp? Award buzz, should be in a similar theater count. Although Milk made much more on 36 films.Nov 1, 2016, 6:21pm PDT
@LoveLamp - Interesting take, I didn't go back that far but it becomes even more interesting if you adjust for 2016 ticket prices, which brings that second week closer to that $23K PTA, albeit with a larger theater count:
That would put the PTA at $9500, which gets you to $2.6M with just 273 theaters for "Moonlight", but is that valid since the theater counts are so different for the first two weeks? I'm not sure either way. That's why they play the games 8).Nov 1, 2016, 6:27pm PDT
I think that the three movies you chose have some kind of drawback as comps, a larger sample size may be more helpful in this case.
PBtP | Moonlight is not getting to 500 theatres & comparing pta change of movies that expand to 200 or 500 is a bit different, especially since one is a serious awards contender & the other wasn't.
ILD | Don't like using films released in December, as they may have had a holiday bump.
WWWY | Noah Baumbach's films usually start really high (he's got a huge core audience) but also drop faster than other movies as they expand, which may make the pta drops seem higher than they are for other movies.
Here's the list of the other movies I used
http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=weekend&id=boyhood.htmNov 1, 2016, 6:32pm PDT
It is always nice to have numbers to go with the gut feel. I really love it at 350, like it quite a bit at 300, and start sweating around 250 as it feels worth a hedge but not a dedication.Nov 1, 2016, 6:33pm PDT
I just used the comp finder that you so graciously provide. The other one I saw was The Descendants but I decided 390 was too many theaters. And George Clooney star power..Nov 1, 2016, 6:36pm PDT