FMLnerd's Week 11 Picks

Pete Johnson

If you called a random person you knew and asked them to name three characters from "Suicide Squad" without using the Internet, do you think they could do it even if you let them use Batman? Our friends at Rotten Tomatoes currently have the latest comic book movie rated in the low 30%'s with over 90 reviews recorded. these facts make things look bad for our split film this week.

But, consider this quote from Deadline that ran on Tuesday:

"Domestically right now in advanced ticket sales, Suicide Squad is blowing the roof off as Fandango reports it's the biggest pre-sale for any August title in the company's 16-year history (meaning above Guardians) - and it still has two days to go."

Props to Where have all the Drive-Ins Gone for pointing this out in the Chatter, which paints a very different picture for this group of criminals looking to get their respective sentences reduced by doing a good deed for the U.S. government.

Your decision on what screens you play this week will start with how you feel about a comic book movie with characters most people don't know but that has a huge presale (influenced by a T-Mobile promotion) and, if it under performs, could paint a bleak future for a DC Extended Universe which has yet to have a hit on the level its competitors have had at not just one, but two studios.

Week 11 Summary Table

As always, here is the summary table that I use to assess the results of my model (full table):


The Use column is an average of the ProBoxOffice and ShowBuzzDaily forecasts for those films that have them. For those that do not, the average value of the forecasted films is applied to the FB$ to obtain an estimate. This week, "Suicide Squad" has its forecast evenly split among the three days based on the pricing for each day.

Week 11 Perfect Combo Probabilities

When I plug the Use column into my model (which are also loaded in to the FML Comparator for your use), here's what it comes up with (full image):


Before interpreting the results above, there are three scenarios worth considering for the weekend:

Scenario 1: "Suicide Squad" does well the whole weekend

If you are in this camp, you believe this film is critic-proof and it will do well the entire weekend. The pricing, which puts 47%/29.4%/23.6% value on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday respectfully, would lead you to avoid Friday. Should you also be a believer in the "drive-in effect" you would look very hard at "Lights Out", the other Warner Bros. PG-13 movie in the market that is an FML choice this week, as a mid-level filler.

Scenario 2: "Suicide Squad" is front-loaded

Conversely, if you buy into the argument that the general public isn't going to go to a comic book movie featuring characters they've never heard of on the opening weekend of what could be a train wreck of an Olympics but that hard core fanboys will come out in droves. You believe that the Friday number will be big but fall off as poor word of mouth spreads throughout the movie-going population. The high FML price for Friday won't bother you and "Lights Out" will still be a mid-level favorite for you.

Scenario 3: "Suicide Squad" bombs

You don't believe in this movie at all, think it represents a saturation point in comic book films, possibly think that the Olympics will have a bigger impact than people realize, and will look completely elsewhere to fill your cineplex screens.

Now, unlike we've seen in recent weeks, Thursday numbers will not likely tell you much here to distinguish between Scenario 1 and Scenario 2, but they should be able to tell you if Scenario 3 is in play. An examination of the HSXsanity Thursday preview data gives us a pretty wide range of movies with full weekend openings in the $120M's but the one that catches my eye is the one just below that threshold, "Man of Steel". It opened to a full weekend of $116M with a Thursday preview of $9M with some special circumstances that involved Wal-Mart and I think it is telling that the original Friday results article from Hollywood Reporter assumed it was on its way to a larger full weekend than it ended up bringing in.

If you are a Scenario 1 person, you're likely playing two screens of Sunday. That's not because it has a whole lot of value compared to Saturday, but because the pros believe that "Nerve" has high value and it Sunday x2 fits nicely with six screens of "Nerve".

But, if you're like me and a Scenario 2 person you're likely playing a screen of Friday. "Nerve" fits there again too, as does "Ghostbusters" but the potential hidden gem there is "Lights Out", which is in line to get a drive-in bump pairing with "Suicide Squad" that the pros usually don't see coming. It fits 4x with a Friday.

Finally, if that Thursday number (check The Chatter for updates on that Friday morning) is below $9M, Scenario 3 becomes attractive. As was discussed on the podcast, an 8x "Secret Life of Pets" cineplex has high risk/reward, as would seven screens of "Bad Moms", but the variance math suggests they are both possibilities.