What is Fantasy Movie League?
Fantasy Movie League (FML) is Fantasy Sports for Hollywood! It's all about predicting the box office and trying to create your own Cineplex.
Do you have some articles that I can quickly read to get a feel for how to play Fantasy Movie League?
Sure do, check out FMLnerd's Fantasy Movie League 101 Series:
Wait, who's FMLnerd?
FMLnerd is an active FML player who likes to share his advice with FML, and has built some pretty awesome tools to help you play better. He's like the Matthew Berry of Fantasy Movie League. Check out his website at www.fmlnerd.com and you can see his tools at analyzer.fmlnerd.com.
Who's Matthew Berry?
Matthew Berry is ESPN's Senior Fantasy Sports Analyst and, more importantly, one of the founders of Fantasy Movie League. Matthew's book, Fantasy Life, debuted at #5 on the New York Times bestseller list and spent two months on the list. If you're lucky, you may catch a glimpse of him playing FML.
Ok, well those articles are pretty long. Maybe you can summarize it to, I don't know, three bullet points?
Here are some quick tips we copied that veteran FMLer Phil's Phun Phlicks has shared previously (thanks Phil!)...
- 1. Do not treat your FML Cineplex like an actual movie theater - This is NOT a theater simulation. Everything is based on actual box office receipts for the weekend, and your entire goal is to maximize those returns. We've seen weeks in the past where playing the same movie on all eight screens actually was the way to go! If you have seven or eight different movies in your Cineplex right now, you're probably playing this wrong. Learning good lineup structure is key. Which brings me to point #2...
- 2. Use analyzer.fmlnerd.com/lineups to help with your lineup - A guy who calls himself the FMLnerd put this nice little tool together. It takes much of the guesswork out of what is and isn't a good lineup. It looks daunting, but it's actually pretty simple. Just set your own box office estimates in the section to the right, and as you set them, the Top Screen Combinations section will give you an idea of what the best lineup is. Right now, only about 10% of the FML player base uses this amazing tool. So using it already gives you an advantage over 90% of your competition!
- 3. Use the main Chatter to your advantage - There are a ton of people in the Chatter that do an inordinate amount of research each week into what the best lineup is. Feel free to jump in as well (this community is overly friendly) with any questions there. Also, there's a good shot you'll get a good idea what sort of lineups you should be playing.
I don't like reading, is there a video I can watch instead?
FML player (and addict) Angry Geek made an intro to FML video.
What about a version of that but with a lot more inside jokes and less helpfulness?
You can find that version here.
SETTING A LINEUP
So how do I play Fantasy Movie League?
Each week, you get 1000 FML "Bux" (or FB$) to spend on your Cineplex. There are 15 options for movies that each have their own prices, and your Cineplex has eight screens. Use your 1000 Bux to fill your 8 screens. It's important to note that you can – and should – use one movie on multiple screens.
What's my goal?
The goal is to maximize your Cineplex's box office gross, which is calculated by the sum of the gross of each movie in your Cineplex, plus any bonuses – which we'll get to in a minute.
Why is it saying that some movies are unavailable?
The key is that you only get your 1000 Bux each week, which means you can't always afford every movie. Think of it as shopping on a budget – you can't buy everything in the store. For example: if Star Wars costs FB$800, if you want to play it twice that would cost you 1600 Bux – but you only have 1000. So if you play Star Wars on one screen, you only have 200 Bux for your other seven screens. Or you could play 8 cheaper movies instead of Star Wars.
How can I get more than 1000 Bux?
Everyone gets the same 1000 Bux every week. Bux don't carry over, or transfer in any way. Each week is a fresh start.
Do I have to fill all eight screens?
No, but be careful. For each screen you leave blank, you are assessed a $2M box office penalty - $2M is subtracted from the total box office you earned with the movies you did select.
So what were you saying about bonuses?
Fantasy Movie League isn't just based on pure box office gross. There are also two different bonuses to pay attention to...
- Best Performer (BP) - This is a $2 million bonus awarded to the movie with the most "value" defined as box office gross / cost. For example, let's say Star Wars is priced at FB$500 and it makes $50,000,000 then its "value" is $100,000/Bux. If Alvin and the Chipmunks is priced at FB$100 and it grosses $20,000,000 then its "value" is $200,000/Bux. So even though Star Wars made more money, Alvin had more value. If Alvin had the highest value that week, it would get an extra $2,000,000 and you would actually make $22M per screen that you played Alvin - $20M for gross plus $2M in bonuses.
- Perfect Cineplex (PC) - This one is simpler. If you play the eight-screen combination that is the highest possible grossing combination that week, then you get an extra $5,000,000 for your Cineplex.
How long do I have to make my picks each week?
Cineplexes lock each week at Noon ET on Friday. Then you wait over the weekend for the gross. Lineups unlock with a new slate of available movies on Monday at 8:00pm ET, or on Tuesday at the same time over a four-day weekend.
When is it a four-day weekend?
FML counts grosses from Friday-Monday during the traditional studio defined four-day weekends. These are Memorial Day, Labor Day, MLK Day and Presidents' Day.
Why does this movie say FRI Only?
Sometimes a movie is expected to dominate the box office by so much that it would be impossible for FML to price it fairly. So these movies are broken up into "Daily Splits", where instead of getting credit for the entire weekend box office, you are forced to choose Friday, Saturday and Sunday as three separate films. Each has its own price and you have to decide which one(s) to play. Note that Thursday previews are counted as Friday gross for an opening weekend, but that doesn't always make Friday the best play.
What is the "Best of the Rest" option?
Some weeks will have a "Best of the Rest" selection available. When featured, this will act as a wild card that will eventually be swapped out for the highest grossing film not available for individual selection in that week. The final determination on which film is the "Best of the Rest" will be made once final box office earnings are released and will be based on data available from BoxOffice.com.
How do I know what movies to play?
Eventually you'll be able to learn enough to make your own box office predictions, but to get started there's lots of experts to help you. Foremost among them is Boxoffice.com, which is FML's official partner. They make very solid predictions every week, and do a good job reporting estimates and actuals throughout the weekend.
Is there a website that can show me everything in box office history?
Where do I find theater counts?
Box Office Mojo publishes updated theater counts on Thursday evenings.
What's this talk about Thursday numbers?
A relatively new trend in the theater business is for movies to have "preview" showings on Thursday night before opening on Friday. The studios will unofficially report grosses from Thursday showings on Friday mornings, usually before the Noon ET lock deadline. The numbers from Thursday showings are actually counted in Friday's gross by the studios, but since they report estimates on Friday morning this can give a clue as to how much a movie will make for its opening weekend. www.deadline.com is usually first to report these.
What is "Insider"?
Insider is a collection of articles written exclusively for FML. Some of them are box office predictions or help with your lineup, and others are just for fun. Check it out for yourself at fantasymovieleague.com/news.
What are "Leagues"?
In addition to competing against all Cineplexes, you can form or join your own League and compete against your friends. Plus, each League comes with its own private Chatter forum.
What is the "Research Vault"?
The Research Vault gives you information about the current movies to help you make your predictions. This includes the pick rate among players, theater counts and box office results from previous weekends. For a more detailed history, check out analyzer.fmlnerd.com/history.
What is "Chatter"?
Chatter is Fantasy Movie League's message board forums. Active players like to talk there about box office predictions and other related stuff, and it's a very friendly community. Feel free to join the discussion or ask any questions you may have at fantasymovieleague.com/chatter.
People in Chatter use some funny terms. Can you fill me in on what they're saying?
Here's a list of some common acronyms or phrases you may come across:
- BO – Box Office.
- BOM – An acronym for Box Office Mojo.
- BP – Best Performer. As discussed earlier, this is the $2M bonus given to the movie with the most value in a given week.
- BSA – this one isn't actually an acronym, but a play on the words "PSA." Written every week by active player BSWhite, this advises you against playing a particular movie for the week. You can decide whether or not you want to listen.
- Comp – comparison, or comparable movie. A similar movie to a current movie that gives clues about possible box office performance.
- FML – Fantasy Movie League.
- FMLQA – FML Quality Assurance – FML's customer service person.
- FSS – Friday/Saturday/Sunday – or, the weekend.
- LRF – Long Range Forecast – the prediction by Boxoffice.com given to a movie weeks before it is released.
- MM – Millions.
- Mojo – Box Office Mojo, the one-stop-shop for all historical box office information.
- OW – Opening Weekend – the box office a movie makes on its first weekend in theaters.
- PBO – Pro Box Office – The original name of Fantasy Movie League's partner website. Check out their box office information at Boxoffice.com.
- PC – Perfect Cineplex. This is the $5M bonus given to players that screen the combination of movies with the highest possible gross.
- PnP – Pause n Play – a weekly article in Insider where popular FML players talk about… stuff.
- PTA – Per Theater Average. Literally a film's gross divided by the number of theaters it was in.
- RT – Rotten Tomatoes, which is a website that aggregates critical reviews for movies.
- SBD – ShowBuzzDaily – another box office expert website. Check out their predictions.
- WTS – Want to see score for a movie on Rotten Tomatoes.