2016 Summer Movie League

In 2009 a group of friends and I started our own fantasy movie league that we created because we 1.) love movies and 2.) love fantasy sports.  Since that time we have had a summer and winter fantasy league every year.  We have expanded a bit and sit at a comfortable number of six members in our league, and have fine-tuned it over the years as we’ve tried new things and hammered out some details.  In recent years, an actual fantasymovieleague.com was started up by ESPN’s fantasy guru, the Talent Mr. Roto himself, Matthew Berry, that has really taken off, of which I also participate.

Our league is quite different than fantasymovieleague.com, which operates more Draft Kings or Fan Duel.  Ours is more like traditional rotisserie fantasy, meaning each person has an exclusive roster and we all bid on the movies we want through an auction format.  This year, the league runs from March 23 to August 26, and any movie released during that time is available for bidding.  We all have an auction budget of $70 and can select up to 7 movies.  We take whatever a movie earns at the box office, multiply it by its Tomatometer on Rotten Tomatoes, and bank whatever that number is as profit, up to $250 million per film.  Whoever accumulates the most money is the winner and gets to select a punishment movie for whomever ends up in last place, who must write a running diary of their movie experience and email it to the group.  Naturally, the worse the movie, the better.

Sunday night we held our auction for the league and here are the resulting rosters and what the winning bid was for each film:

Team Joe:
$30 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
$19 The Jungle Book
$11 Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising
$3 Keanu
$4 Hardcore Henry
$3 Sausage Party
Analysis: Joe, the defending champ of the Fall/Winter League, got a couple of movies I had targeted, but for one reason or another I missed out on them: The Jungle Book, Neighbors 2, Keanu, and Hardcore Henry.  He took a little ribbing for The Jungle Book, but I have seen a forecast for that movie in the $185 million range, and if its Tomatometer is as high as the other Disney live adaptations then it could be a steal for $19.  I bid around the same amount for Cinderella last year and it did around the same number.  His success should rise or fall on what the critics think of Batman v Superman.  If it isn’t higher than Man of Steel (56%) then I think it is unlikely it will hit the $250 million cap.  Also, his lineup was affectionately referred to as the “Porn Roster” based on the titles he ended up with.

My Team:
$7 The Angry Birds Movie
$10 Alice Through the Looking Glass
$29 X-Men: Apocalypse
$8 Ice Age: Collision Course
$12 The BFG
$1 Free State of Jones
$3 Barbershop: The Next Cut
Analysis: This was not exactly the roster I went in hoping to get, but I can’t complain about any of my picks really.  I didn’t even intend to bid on The Angry Birds Movie or Alice Through the Looking Glass, but I had pegged them both in the Top 15 of overall earnings when I ranked all of the movies coming out, so I thought that if I didn’t at least bid them up then someone else was ending up with a steal.  I got both of them fairly early on, which forced me to alter my plans, and I ended up losing a bidding war on Finding Dory and a few other titles because of it.  After that, I felt like I needed to get X-Men or risk not having a big earner.  Ice Age was another movie that I felt was being undervalued, so I ended up getting it.  All of those movies, while not garnering much in the way of Tomatometer, still end up doing around $130 million, so I’m hoping to bank about half of that at best; $65 million is good value at $8.  The BFG comes out on 4th of July weekend and it’s Spielberg, while the other two movies were just to round out my roster at the end, though I tried to make a late play for My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 at the end, but Tim just had more money left than I did.  I don’t think I have any movies that will hit the $250 cap, but I think I have a good stable of solid earners.

Team Chris:
$46 Captain America: Civil War
$10 Central Intelligence
$4 Now You See Me 2
$2 Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
$6 Pete’s Dragon
$1 Demolition
$1 Me Before You
Analysis: Chris kept claiming that everything that was happening was “all part of the plan.”  However, if this was the plan, I’m not sure it’s a solid plan.  He was determined to get Captain America, a film almost guaranteed to hit the cap.  After that though, he had quite a few films he was involved with that he ultimately ended up walking away from or getting outbid on.  He has to hope that Central Intelligence hews more closely to The Rock’s level of box office performance as opposed to Kevin Hart’s typical box office numbers and T-meters.  Now You See Me 2 seems like it’s going to be right in the $80 million range but only have a T-rating of 45%.  The first movie made $117 and was 50%; I think that is its ceiling, though that’s not bad for $4.  Popstar could surprise.  And Pete’s Dragon seems like a gamble, as the original isn’t as beloved as most of the Disney remakes we’ve seen recently.  Demolition and Me Before You were roster fillers.  Early reviews for Demolition have been mixed (50%).

Team Paula:
$5 The Boss
$39 Finding Dory
$5 Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
$7 The Huntsman: Winter’s War
$5 Legend of Tarzan
$4 The Nice Guys
$1 Money Monster
Analysis: I think Paula did pretty well for herself.  Finding Dora was the movie I most wanted to get, as a sequel to a universally adored Pixar movie is a sure thing in terms of hitting the cap.  But as if I had gone $40 to get it when the bidding occurred I would have only had $13 to spend on up to 4 movies.  The Boss is the latest Melissa McCarthy movie, which will once again test whether she can star in a hit comedy that isn’t made by Paul Feig, something that hasn’t happened yet.  I think Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates could surprise.  The Huntsman and Legend of Tarzan are gambles, but could be values given how much she paid for them.  The Nice Guys is a movie I am dying to see, but I don’t know how much money it will make at the box office.  Money Monster has Clooney and Julia Roberts, but not much buzz.  If her comedies hit and those two action movies overachieve, Paula could make some noise.

Team Greg:
$8 Ghostbusters
$17 Independence Day: Resurgence
$19 The Secret Life of Pets
$6 Warcraft
$17 Jason Bourne
$3 The Purge: Election Day
Analysis: I feel like Greg and I ended up going for a similar roster, no real heavy hitters, but a lot of movies that could perform solidly and maybe outperform expectations.  Ghostbusters could go a number of ways.  I think the Independence Day sequel might struggle to be worth the $17 he paid for it, but only because it’s been a long time since Roland Emmerich made a worthwhile movie that got good reviews.  His last certified fresh movie was 2000’s The Patriot.  Also, it’s been 20 years since the original.  Getting Warcraft at $6 is a very good move; if it’s bad there’s little downside and if it’s good then it’s a bargain.  It’s been nine years since the last Bourne movie starring Matt Damon.  Those movies performed very well critically and financially.  If this returns to form, it’ll be a solid earner.  What does The Secret Life of Pets do?  It’s made by the same company that has given us the Despicable Me franchise, Hop, and The Lorax.  Like my team, I don’t see any of Greg’s movies capping, unless Ghostbusters is an absolute homerun.

Team Tim:
$26 Suicide Squad
$20 Star Trek Beyond
$7 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
$6 The Conjuring 2
$2 Mother’s Day
$3 Kubo and the Two Strings
$4 My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
Analysis: Tim got Suicide Squad fairly early on, I believe it was one of the first four movie bid on.  After that, he got outbid on a few other movies, and ended up getting Star Trek Beyond as one of the last potentially mid-to-big earners left on the board.  Suicide Squad feels like it could be pretty big, but it could also just be a vocal niche audience that it appeals to.  Star Trek Beyond could do business as high as the $220 million range, but it will be interesting to see how things go without J.J. Abrams at the helm now, and Star Trek Into Darkness did not deserve its 87% T-meter, in my opinion.  If all goes well, those could both earn close to $200 million for Tim.  He’ll be hard pressed to get much return for the Turtles, though.  Their last movie, despite making $191 million, only got a 21% rating.  Horror sequels can be hard to judge, though The Conjuring was one of the better mainstream horror movies of the last hew years.  Mother’s Day is unlikely to be a big earner, and who know about Kubo.  My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is a sequel to a 14 year old movie.  The original capture the cultural zeitgeist in 2002 and made $241 million while getting a 76% rating.  The question is whether they can recapture that audience.  It’s also worth noting that nothing Nia Vardalos has done in the past 14 years has even come close to approaching what the original movie did.  At $4, there is only upside, with the potential for huge upside.

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6 Comments

  1. Thanks for writing this up Ken. The movie league is , by a long way, my favorite fantasy game ever. A few comments:

    Tim’s $46 on Suicide Squad and Star Trek should outearn, Chris’s $46 on Civil War. Suicide Squad is going to do really well, people are into Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. I meant to nominate the Conjuring 2 earlier to draw out all you Connecticut residents and drive up the bidding on that, because I think that is an easy call to disappoint. It’s hard to see any of his other movies breaking out. Kubo looks beautiful, but I think it’s release date is a problem.

    Greg is in good shape. Ghostbusters is going to be a polarizing film which will probably be bad for the Tomatometer but Bourne and The Secret Life of Pets should be really solid. Greg is probably thinking Jurassic World when he went for Independence Day, but it has a decidedly downmarket cast. I think he has to count on Ghostbusters to get good reviews.

    Paula has the other movie that is going to cap in Finding Dory. I think Paula has a great roster, I don’t see how The Nice Guys makes money but I bet RT will have it near 90%. If Huntsman and Tarzan get good reviews, I think Paula will contend for the win.

    Chris overpaid for Civil war, but somebody was going to. I just think Central Intelligence is a really weak use of $10. Considering Neighbors 2 went for $11 and The BFG went for 12.

    Your roster has a lot of movies that have a good chance of not being liked. Angry Birds is just the sort of thing critics lie in wait for, sharpening their knives. I watched the trailer for Alice and honestly, i couldn’t make any sense of it all — I think you bought the DeppBomb.

    My roster – I don’t know I think Neighbors 2 is gonna be fine, a very good way to approach the sequel, it still looks funny, the redone jokes from the last one in the trailer even look funny. They also look to have added even more toplessness. I actually think it will make more money than Neighbors, but expect the ratings to drop, not precipitously. Keanu is like a movie made in a lab. I think people really like Key & Peele overall, and a family-friendly Hangover with an adorable kitty should have a chance.

    BvS looks mercilessly grim and not fun. I don’t think it will hit the cap but it should be close enough. It’s got a great release date, it should open huge beyond huge, but I think there’s a good chance that the buzz coming out of Easter will be pretty bad.

    You should embed trailers in this post! Anyway, here’s the Sausage party trailer that just came out. Reddit and SXSW went gaga over this, I dunno https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7fP9q_LyDc

    Like

    1. Thanks for the feedback Joe. My roster is a bit risky, I will grant you that. But I had Angry Birds and Alice as Top 15 earners, and I thought they were being undervalued. I was ok paying a combined $17 for the two of them, though it was definitely not my plan to come away with those movies. I think I can get $200-150 million combined from the two of them. That’s not bad for $17. I think $150-175 for X-Men itself is reasonable. Add another $50 million for Ice Age (which should make at least $130 million and be about 40-45% on the T-meter. The last one made $161 million). I need The BFG to make money. I’ve got to get around $100 million from that. Free State of Jones and Barbershop are complete wild cards. I would expect no more than another $30-50 million from them. That puts me at a range of… $430 million on the low end and $575 million if everything breaks my way. But that’s the fun of the league, the finding out!

      Like

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