Summer Movie League – Rosters

Yesterday, I detailed the auction results for the Summer Movie League. Let’s take a look at the resulting rosters.

Rosters:

Greg
sml17-greg$39 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (5/5)
$14 Alien: Covenant (5/19)
$6 King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (5/12)
$6 Transformers: The Last Knight (6/23)
$4 Rock That Body (6/16)
$1 The Emoji Movie (8/4)

Greg is the defending back to back winner, having won both the Summer and Fall of 2016.  It’s possible that Greg is back in the mix this time around, but like most teams looking to three-peat, his odds this time around might be tougher than the previous two.  Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is one of the surer bets to hit the $250 cap.  After that, though, is where the uncertainty resides.  Alien: Covenant is a sequel to Prometheus, a film that made $126 million and was in the mid-70s on the T-meter.  It’s possible that it could outperform Prometheus, but I think it is likely that it performs about the same, meaning that between Guardians and Alien, Greg is looking at nearly $350 million combined.

It seems to me that Greg’s chances of success hinge on the three movies he paid a combined $16 for: King Arthur, Transformers: The Last Knight, and Rock That BodyKing Arthur is a Guy Ritchie movie.  Ritchie is a director who has not had a lot of box office success outside of the two Sherlock Holmes movies.  His last movie, The Man from U..N.C.L.E. made $45 million. Rock That Body, though we have no information other than a cast and plot synopsis to go on, could be a comedy hit, but the box office potential will be hard to quantify until we see a trailer.

As for Transformers: The Last Knight, what kind of Transformers movie are we getting this time around?  Let’s look at the earnings of each of the four previous installments:
Transformers – $319 million X 57% = $181 million
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – $402 X 19% = $76 million
Transformers: Dark of the Moon – $352 X 35% = $123 million
Transformers: Age of Extinction – $245 X 18% = $44 million
The box office has yielded diminishing returns, but the earnings for our league have fluctuated because of the difference in T-meters.  I think the days of a Transformers movie making over $350 million are gone, and $245 is closer to the new normal.  The question then is whether it will have a T-meter closer to 35% or 18%.  That’s a difference of about $40 million on that scale.

Lastly, just the thought of The Emoji Movie makes me throw up in my mouth.  Can it possibly have a T-meter that is higher than The Angry Birds Movie last summer (43%)?

Tim
sml17-tim$26 The Fate of the Furious (4/14)
$20 War for the Planet of the Apes (7/14)
$20 Cars 3 (6/16)
$2 An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (7/28)
$1 T2: Trainspotting 2 (3/17)
$1 Gifted (4/7)

By spending $26, $22, and $20 on his top 3 spots, Tim ended up getting the 5th, 8th, and 9th highest priced movies.  That could be worthwhile strategy in that he didn’t spend over half of his budget on any one movie.  The question is whether the three movies he selected are the right movies to get with this strategy.

The Fast franchise has proven to be a strong, steady earner in recent years, with Fast & Furious 6 making $164.7 million in our 2013 league and Furious 7 hitting the cap in 2015.  I think part of what made that film reach $353 million in 2015 was the death of Paul Walker.  The addition of Charlize Theron as the villain of this movie is a plus, but the trailers have put a bit of doubt into my brain that it will reach the heights of Furious 7 (I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence).  If any of Tim’s movies are going to hit the cap, it will be this one, but I think only four movies are hitting the cap this summer (Beauty & the Beast, Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Despicable Me 3).  I think $200 million is more realistic for Fate of the Furious than $250 million.  Fast 7 was also aided by the highest Rotten Tomatoes score in the history of the franchise.  he previous three films have gone 77%, 69%, 79%, so it’s possible that Fate of the Furious could land in that range, but I think we get a box office maybe close to $300 million and a slightly lower T-meter, which depresses the value.

I think War for the Planet of the Apes is a pretty solid bet to make $150 million.  Both of the previous entries were very strong earners, with domestic box office totals of $176 million and $208 million respectively and very high T-meters.  Unless this is a big misstep by the returning director and writer of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, then it is a pretty safe bet to make at least $150 million.

Where I think Tim went a bit off track was spending $20 on Cars 3.  Now, Cars made $244 million and Cars 2 made $191.5 million, but they have the lowest T-meter ratings of all of the Pixar movies, at 74% and 39%, respectively.  Cars 2 is the only “rotten” movie (below 60% positive reviews) that Pixar has made.  They’re also the 10th and 15th highest box office performers amongst the 17 Pixar features.  That’s not promising.  I don’t think Tim can expect much more than $100 million from his investment in  Cars 3, and I think he would have been better off spending that money elsewhere, like on Alien: Covenant ($14) which went right after Cars 3, and then he could have gotten another movie on top of it.  I feel pretty confident in saying that a $15 Alien: Covenant + $5 Movie X (perhaps Rock That Body) would end up earning more than Cars 3.

If we pencil in $200 million for Fate of the Furious, $175 for Apes, and $100 for Cars 3, that puts Tim in at $475.  I’m not sure how much he can/should expect from his three remaining movies, An Inconvenient Sequel, T2: Trainspotting, and Gifted.  If he gets to $475 with his top 3 movies, I think those last three could push him over $500 million, but I’m not sure by how much.

Paula
sml17-paula$31 Despicable Me 3 (6/30)
$31 Spider-Man: Homecoming (7/7)
$3 The Circle (4/28)
$2 Smurfs: The Lost Village (4/7)
$1 The Zookeeper’s Wife (3/31)
$1 All Nighter (3/24)
$1 Annabelle 2 (8/11)

It’s hard to look at Paula’s roster and not think she is serious contender for 1st place.  She made the biggest splash early by getting Despicable Me 3 and Spider-Man: Homecoming in the first 8 picks.  That was a combined $62 of her $70 budget right there, but it both of those movies have a good chance to hit the cap.

Spider-Man is a brand that has seen its image tarnished by the last three movies made in the franchise, but it’s now under the Marvel tent after being at Sony, and Captain America: Civil War was a big image rehab for it.  I think people are excited and ready for a good Spider-Man movie again, and I think this one delivers.

Despicable Me 3 is has a few possible outcomes.  Despicable Me made $235 million in revenue in our league back in 2010.  Despicable Me 2 hit the cap.  Minions reached $188 million.  The cap is the best case scenario for this, and it’s definitely in play.  However, the drop in T-meter from Despicable Me to Despicable Me 2 was 8%.  If there is another similar drop, where the franchise starts to show it’s running out of steam, that could easily prevent it from capping.  Having said all of that, I think the absolute floor for this movie is $150 million, unless the wheels come off and it does worse than Minions with the critics.

After that, Paula really had to be patient, given that she only had $8 left to spend.  She ended up getting five movies from the 27th to 40th spots, including 3 of the last 5 movies selected.  Smurfs is unlikely to make her much as those movies are consistently in the teens or lower on the T-meter.  Frankly, I don’t think All Nighter will get a theatrical release.  Annabelle 2 is one of the few horror movies coming out this Summer, but it’s releasing in August, so she only has a few weeks to make anything off of it, and the first Annabelle was poorly received.

The real question marks are The Circle and The Zookeeper’s Wife.  I think they’re likely to be fairly low earners, neither likely to top $50 million.  However, if one of them surprises or they are both favorably reviewed, then things are looking even better.  So, for Paula, Spider-Man: Homecoming feels like a sure thing, Despicable Me 3 feels almost like a sure thing, and how much money can she produce from the remaining five movies that she supplemented her big two with?

Joe
sml17-joe$28 Logan (3/3)
$17 Wonder Woman (6/2)
$5 Power Rangers (3/24)
$12 Ghost in the Shell (3/31)
$4 Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (7/21)
$2 Life (3/24)
$1 Going in Style (4/7)

Joe’s roster is a certain kind of sci-fi nerd’s dream roster.  Two superhero movies, Logan and Wonder Woman, an anime adaptation, a graphic novel adaptation, a 90s TV show adaptation, and a classic sci-fi thriller in space.  And then a Zach Braff movie about retired jewel thieves.  One of these things is not like the others.

Logan is already something of a known quantity, having received rave early reviews in advance of it’s March 3rd release.  It’s currently sitting pretty at 96% based on 67 reviews.  Fox’s X-Men franchise and spin-offs have been volatile box office performers, the last standalone Wolverine film, The Wolverine, only grossed $132 million.  It’s a pretty safe bet that Logan will outperform it.  But I don’t expect it to cap or come close to capping.  I do think $175-200 million is reasonable, because of the positive reviews and because it is Hugh Jackman’s swan song as Wolverine.

There was a recent test screening of Wonder Woman that had a lot of positive buzz coming out of it, and the trailers have looked promising.  But this is still DC and after the sour taste that Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad left, I’ll believe that Wonder Woman is going to be good when I actually see reviews saying so.  I’m anticipating another movie that makes $300 million or more but with a T-meter below 33%.  If that changes, that changes the game for Joe.  Until them, I’m not expecting more revenue than $100 million for this movie.

$5 for Power Rangers, a reboot of the popular 90s afternoon TV series I was never a fan of.  I know there are plenty of people who were.  I just don’t anticipate it having much of an audience or generating a positive T-meter.  Maybe there’s $50 million for Joe at the end of it all.  It’s unlikely to surprise though.

Ghost in the Shell and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets are two movies that I think could get favorable reviews but not have much mass appeal on account of their subject matter.  Despite the presence of ScarJo, Ghost in the Shell might just be too weird for mainstream audiences.  And while Valerian looks visually similar to Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element, which was a box office hit, The Fifth Element was 20 years ago.  Besson’s last summer blockbuster, Lucy, made $126 million with a 67% T-meter.  Something around those numbers would be pretty good for Joe.  But it’s also coming out two weeks after Spider-Man: Homecoming, a week after War for the Planet of the Apes, and the same week as Dunkirk.  That’s a lot of overlapping demographic.

Life is a movie that I hope is good, but could easily be mediocre while maybe Going in Style has a Last Vegas-like run to around $60 million and $30 in revenue for Joe.  If everything goes according to plan, there is a path to over $500 million for Joe.  If Wonder Woman is a step up from BvS and Suicide Squad, there may be a path to $600 million.  That’s a big “if.”

Me
sml17-me$41 Beauty and the Beast (3/17)
$11 Baywatch (5/26)
$7 Boss Baby (3/31)
$5 Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (6/2)
$1 CHiPS (3/24)
$1 Bad Dads (7/14)
$1 Girls Trip (7/21)

My strategy going into this was to get one of the Top 4 movies in my mind (Beauty and the Beast, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, or Despicable Me 3) or to get three or four of the film I ranked just below them.  My reasoning in getting Beauty and the Beast and going to $41 to do so was simple; in my mind it is the surest bet of all of the movies this season to hit the $250 cap.  The 1991 animated film is the most cherished of the modern day Disney animated features amongst those who love Disney films.  They are going to go see this in droves.  I can’t imagine it making less than The Jungle Book made last year, $364 million.  And because the animated film is so beloved by audiences, the studio has to know that they can’t screw it up.

After getting Beauty and the Beast, I waited quite a while before supplementing it with Baywatch, The Boss Baby, and Captain UnderpantsBaywatch is an action comedy featuring The Rock.  Last year, Central Intelligence made $127 million.  The year before that, San Andreas made $155 million.  After their T-meters, they generated $87.9 million and $74.5 million, respectively.  I think Baywatch is a pretty good bet to come in somewhere near those numbers.  The downside would be if it performs like Hercules, which only netted $43.5 million.  The Boss Baby and Captain Underpants are both DreamWorks animated films.  DreamWorks isn’t the consistent box office juggernaut that Pixar is, but they are a notch below them.  Also, if you look at the last few times that they have released spring and summer animated features, as here seen on Box Office Mojo, the returns have been pretty good.  I think I’ve got three movies here that can earn somewhere between $50 and $100 million each. The question is whether the actual number is closer to $150 or $300 million combined.  If it’s closer to $300, I should be in contention for 1st.

The last three movies that I picked up are really filler.  Of them, I am going to pay close attention to CHiPs and Bad Dads.  I will be watching intently for early reviews for CHiPs.  Even a lack of early reviews can often be telling for a comedy.  With Bad Dads, I would not be at all surprised if it is pushed back since there is literally nothing out there about it right now.  That would give me a free add-drop.  I’ve also got $3 of auction money left over that I can potentially use to add a movie without having to suffer a $5 million penalty, which is certainly an option with CHiPs, though pickings are sure to be slim.

I think I’ve got a good chance to get to at least $450 with those top four movies.  How much more I can get is TBD, in more way than one.

Chris
sml17-chris$22 Dunkirk (7/21)
$12 The Mummy (6/9)
$10 Kong: Skull Island (3/10)
$8 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (5/26)
$8 The House (6/30)
$5 Snatched (5/12)
$4 The Dark Tower (7/28)

Chris left most of us scratching our heads when he was unwilling to extend himself for the first eight movies of the auction.  And then the first movie he landed was the fifth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.  That franchise peaked on the T-meter with Curse of the Black Pearl (79%) and peaked at the box office with Dead Man’s Chest ($423 million).  The last installment, On Stranger Tides,  was a low for the series, coming in at $241 million and a 32% T-meter.  Frankly, this franchise felt tired during the 2nd movie and we’re about to embark on the 5th.  $120 million seems like the absolute best case scenario for this movie that Chris can hope for, and that seems generous.

Dunkirk, however, is his top priced film at $22.  Nolan is one of the best directors working and one of my personal faves, but outside of the Dark Knight trilogy, his box office is not a sure thing.  Inception made $292 million and was favorably reviewed, but Interstellar grossed $188 million and the reviews were mixed.  Is a WWII epic a $200 million film or a $300 million film?  Even with Spielberg and Hanks, Saving Private Ryan grossed $216 million.  Let’s say it makes $200 million with an 85% T-meter.  That’s $170 million to Chris.

The Mummy and Kong: Skull Island are two action adventure movies that feel like they could be modest hits with audiences but get mixed reviews from critics.  Of these, I want Kong to be good.  I am completely indifferent to The Mummy.  Outside of the Mission: Impossible franchise, Cruise is not a major blockbuster hit anymore.  Edge of Tomorrow was his biggest non-M:I movie of the last 10 years, and it grossed $100 million.  This should make more, but I suspect the T-meter will be around 50%.  Kong is supposed to be based in the same universe as 2014’s Godzilla, which grossed just over $200 million that year with a 74% T-meter.  Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong made $218 million with an 84% T-meter.  This one is clearly more action-oriented.  $200 million is a reasonable bar to set, the T-meter for this could be very important for Chris.

Snatched and The House are two comedies that I had my eye on going into the auction.  Chris did well to get both of them.  Will Ferrell can be hit or miss, so Snatched is probably the safer bet to make more money.  Trainwreck earned $110 million in 2015 and had positive reviews.  Along with Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn as the stars, it’s also got a solid director in Jonathan Levine (50/50, Warm Bodies, The Night Before).  I think numbers similar to Trainwreck make sense, though that would be significantly higher than anything else Levine has made.

The Dark Tower is a wild card pick.  It’s got the pedigree of Stephen King and critically acclaimed book series.  However, the road to turning this into a film has been long and featured many twists and turns.  It’s also a foreign director making his first Hollywood film, which sometimes doesn’t translate into success.  I would expect modest numbers from this, grossing somewhere between $75 and $100 million and maybe making Chris $40 to $60 million.

Chris has no movies that seem poised to hit the cap, but if all of his movies perform moderately well in comparison to their projections, and if none of them are bombs at the box office or critically, then he could be in the running too.


Looking at everyone’s rosters, I see no one that sticks out as a significantly heavy favorite to win or to lose.  I think Paula’s 1-2 punch of Spider-Man: Homecoming and Despicable Me 3 sets the bar for what people can anticipate they need to surpass in order to win, and that number could be $500 million.  In fact, that is usually the minimum threshold to win the Summer, and this year looks to be no different.  In fact, given the expansion of the weeks we’re playing, it’s possible that number could be even higher.  It should be a fun season.

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