Will I "Really Like" this Movie?

Navigating Movie Website Ratings to Select More Enjoyable Movies

A “Really Like” Redux in Three Parts

According to Dictionary.com, a redux is something that has been brought back. Today I’m bringing back three posts for updates based on recent news.

In August 2016, I published a data-based study of the careers of Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. So far, it is the most reviewed post I’ve written. At the time I was unaware that Streep and Hanks would be co-starring for the first time in The Post which was widely released in January. Since my 2016 article Meryl Streep has received two more Best Actress nominations for The Post and last year’s Florence Foster Jenkins. Tom Hanks, on the other hand, was unable to convert two award worthy performances (The Post and Sully) into a single nomination. Hanks hasn’t been nominated in seventeen years. During that period Streep has been nominated nine times. Why has Hanks lost his Oscar “mojo”? I don’t have an answer. Well-reviewed performances in Oscar-worthy roles have clearly not been enough to get him over the top.

In August of 2017 I wrote about MoviePass and its viability for the average moviegoer. Well, MoviePass, which recently hit two million subscribers, is in the news again. It has announced another new pricing plan that slashes the average monthly price to $7.95 from $9.95 for new subscribers and they will throw in a year’s subscription to the streaming service Fandor. There is a catch, though. MoviePass wants you to pay a year’s worth of monthly fees up front. And, they are adding on a processing fee of $19.95. This processing fee almost wipes out the $2 a month savings from the reduced price. MoviePass wants its money upfront because they are cash poor. According to this recent article in Yahoo News the parent company of MoviePass is desperate for cash and has recently put out a sizable stock offering to raise it. So, my previous analysis doesn’t change much. If you are honest with yourself and you are sure you will go to the movies more than a dozen times a year, this can be a good deal. If you are a fan of independent movies, Fandor will be a plus. Just be aware that, while MoviePass is doing a great job attracting new subscribers, its business viability is not a sure thing.

In my 100th post this past July, I mentioned that for Dunkirk to be considered great it would need to compare favorably to Saving Private Ryan. We are a couple of weeks away from the Academy Award presentations and Dunkirk is a viable Best Picture possibility. Let’s revisit how it is doing with its other benchmarks. While Dunkirk has turned in a solid 8.1 on IMDB, it significantly lags the 8.6 average rating of Saving Private Ryan. Dunkirk also lags on Cinemascore by an A- to A score for Saving Private Ryan. The critics have a more favorable view of Dunkirk. Rotten Tomatoes gives both movies a Certified Fresh 92%. Metacritic gives Dunkirk the slight edge 94 to 90. Finally, Saving Private Ryan has a slight edge so far in the Oscar race with 11 nominations to 8. All in all, Dunkirk holds its own with Saving Private Ryan. I might give the technical edge slightly to Dunkirk. In terms of audience appeal, though, Saving Private Ryan has a solid advantage.

I hope you enjoyed my little Redux. Adieu.

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Horrible Horror Movies and Why They Keep Getting Made

The gothic horror movie Winchester was released last Friday and finished the weekend third at the US Box Office with $9,307,626 in total ticket receipts. According to Box Office Mojo the opening night audience was 58% female and 64% were over the age of 25. It was considered to be a successful opening weekend.

Here’s the thing, though. Most people who’ve seen the movie didn’t “really like” it. Rotten Tomatoes gives the movie a 12% Rotten rating. Metacritic has given it a score of 28%. Despite these poor reviews from critics, people went to see the movie anyway and audiences didn’t like it either. The average IMDB rating for the movie is 5.3. Only 36.3% of IMDB voters gave it a “really like” rating of seven or higher. So, word of mouth is bad and the critic reviews people are reading are almost universally bad and still they keep showing up at the theater. On Monday, Winchester still finished third at the box office.

And, it’s not just Winchester. In my objective data base, which now includes the top 150 box office movies each year from the years 1992 to 2001, there is evidence that most horror movies are bad. From 1992 to 2001, horror movies have an average IMDB rating of 5.8 and are 40% Fresh (or Rotten) on Rotten Tomatoes. All other movies for the same time frame have an average IMDB rating of 6.3 and are 53% Fresh (less Rotten). Generally speaking, as a genre, horror movies are below average in quality.

And yet, Hollywood still keeps rolling out horror movies year after year. Why? These movies are reliable money makers. During the 10 years of my study, horror movie business performance compares very favorably to other movies.

Avg Domestic Gross per Movie Avg Production Budget per Movie Net After Budget per Movie
Horror Movies  $  44,973,410  $  39,938,864  $   5,034,547
All Movies  $  38,935,822  $  46,294,593  $ (7,358,771)

While the industry as a whole doesn’t turn a profit until they take in video sales and licensing fees after movies end their box office run, horror movies turn a profit, on average, before the movies end their box office run. The average horror movie brings in more box office revenue with lower production costs than the typical movie in other genres. They are the perfect movies for those months that make up the non-blockbuster, non-awards seasons. They represent a low risk, moderate reward option for these down months of the box office year. There is something irrational about the audience draw for these horrible movies. There is something about the genre that encourages audiences to overlook the below average quality of the movies. They know it’s bad and they don’t care.

If you’re like me, quality matters and it takes a quality horror movie like Get Out to be a “really like” movie. With the information that is available to us today, there is no excuse for shelling out hard earned cash at the Cineplex for horrible movies like Winchester. Hold out for quality. A reliable profit stream for bad movies encourages them to keep making bad movies. We need more Get Out‘s and a lot fewer Winchester‘s. Tell them that horrible just doesn’t cut it, even for horror.

 

In February, Hope for the Unexpected

Unless you are still catching up with the Oscar nominated movies that you haven’t seen, February can be a tricky month for finding “really like” movies at the theaters. The winter months of January, February, and March don’t lure many moviegoers to the cinema. The average domestic box office gross for a movie widely released in February is a little over $28 million. For the entire year the average gross for a typical movie is in excess of $38 million. As a result, movie producers don’t release many movies that they’ve invested heavily in during the month of February. You can see this in the size of the production budgets for February releases. The average February movie has a production budget of around $36 million compared to an average for the year of around $46 million. So should we just stay home and watch “really like” movies available on our streaming services? That’s actually not a bad strategy. I’m kidding! Well maybe a little bit.

Seriously though, February is a tricky month but it’s not hopeless. Movie producers are skilled at finding a strategy that works at different times of year and sticking with it. For example in recent years, February has proven to be a good month to successfully kick off franchises for lesser known comic book characters like Deadpool and  Kingsman: The Secret Service. This year Marvel is kicking off the new franchise Black Panther in February. It premiered in Los Angeles on January 29th and opens overseas on February 13th before opening widely in the United States on February 16th. The early IMDB score is a promising 7.5. We won’t know if that rating is holding up until we get closer to the US opening. Stay tuned.

Many Oscar nominated movies for Best Foreign Language film weren’t released in the United States until the February after their overseas release to see if they could transform Oscar buzz into US Box Office success. The foreign classic Life is Beautiful was released in the United States in February. This year it is A Fantastic Woman, which opens in the US tomorrow, that is getting the buzz. The good thing about this foreign slice of February releases is that they already have a significant body of data from their prior year release overseas. A Fantastic Woman is Certified Fresh 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, has a Metacritic score of 90, and an IMDB average rating of 7.5.

If you are looking for an Oscar caliber movie in February, the odds are against you. Silence of the Lambs is the only movie released for the first time in February (not a prior year holdover) to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. If Get Out wins Best Picture this year it will become the second February release to do so. The one thing that both movies have in common is that they both had modest production budgets. Silence of the Lambs had a budget of $19 million and Get Out had a budget of $4.5 million. The other thing that they have in common is that they are both from the Horror/Thriller genre. The third thing they have in common was that their success was unexpected. I don’t see any movie on the February release schedule that I would expect to be this year’s Get Out, which, I guess, would make the emergence of such a movie, well, unexpected.

With Oscar Nominations Announced, the 2017 Objective Top Twenty Takes Shape

Now that we know which movies have been nominated for Academy Awards, all of the factors that go into the 2017 Objective Top Twenty are populated with some data. The only big unknown in the race is which movies will win Oscars on March 4. Just to be clear, the Objective Top Twenty isn’t about who will be crowned as the Best Picture of the year. It is about which 2017 movies have the highest probability that you will like them. Academy Award performance is just one of the indicators. Here is the status of the race so far.

2017 Widely Released Movies Objective “Really Like” Probability
Blade Runner 2049  76.58%
Coco 76.23%
Wonder 76.23%
Dunkirk 76.06%
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 76.06%
Logan 76.06%
Lion 75.85%
Thor: Ragnarok 75.64%
Only the Brave  75.64%
Greatest Showman, The 75.57%
Florida Project, The 75.50%
Loving Vincent 75.50%
Monster Calls, A 75.46%
Wonder Woman 75.45%
Spider-Man: Homecoming 75.45%
Get Out 75.32%
Hidden Figures 75.21%
Salesman, The 75.19%
Star Wars: The Last Jedi 75.14%
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 75.14%

The separation among all twenty movies isn’t great. In fact, there is only a two percentage point difference separating the top thirty two movies. A few ratings changes over the next couple of months can significantly reshape the race.

To determine which movies are considered “widely released” in 2017, I use the wide release date used by Box Office MojoThe Post was released on Dec. 22 in nine theaters. It wasn’t until Jan. 12 that it was released in theaters in all markets. So The Post, along with Oscar nominated films, Molly’s GameI, TonyaPhantom Thread, and Call Me By Your Name will be considered for the 2018 Objective Top Twenty instead of 2017. And, 2016 movies like LionHidden Figures, and The Salesman which weren’t widely released until 2017 are on the 2017 list.

So, you might ask, why aren’t The Shape of Water with its 13 Oscar nominations, Darkest Hour with its 6 nominations, and Lady Bird with its 5 nominations, in the top twenty. It goes back to my earlier comment about how close the top 32 movies are. All three of these movies could win a major award on March 4 and end up back in the top twenty. It’s that close.

So check back each Monday for the Objective Top Twenty updates. There are still some changes to come. The cake may be in the oven but it isn’t baked yet.

Oscar Nominations Can Lead You to “Really Like” Movies

Movie fans will pore over the list of Oscar nominations that will be announced next Tuesday. Some seek affirmation that their favorite movie of the past year is a favorite of the industry as well. Others hope to find nominated movies that they might have overlooked, or prematurely dismissed, when they were first released. These movies go on their list for future streaming. Many others are intrigued by the drama of seeing who made the cut and who was snubbed. You could argue that there is more uncertainty over who will get nominated then there is over who will win. Whatever your motivation, Oscar nomination day is a big deal for movie fandom.

I have to admit that “all of the above” feed my excitement of the day. I’m hoping that movies on the bubble that I loved like Molly’s Game and The Big Sick get the recognition that they deserve. I’m hoping that Christopher Nolan and Greta Gerwig break through in the Best Director’s race. And, I’m hoping to identify some movies that weren’t on my radar that possibly should be for “really like” viewing in the next year.

As nominees walk the red carpet on Oscar night, you will hear “I am so honored just to be nominated.” When it comes to selecting “really like” movies “just being nominated” is a big deal. Movies that don’t receive an Oscar nomination have only a 64.4% chance of receiving a 7 or better from IMDB voters. Movies that receive a nomination have a 76.1% probability of a 7 or better IMDB vote. Even a minor nomination gives a movie a 72.9% chance of being a “really like” movie. And if a movie is nominated in one of the major categories (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Screenplay) the odds increase to 76.9%.

So, when the Oscar nominations are announced on Tuesday, pay attention to all of the categories. A nominee for Best Art Direction-Set Direction may be your next “really like” movie.

Metacritic Makes the “Really Like” Movie Grade

For sometime now, I’ve been aware that Rotten Tomatoes is not the only website that aggregates movie critic reviews into an overall score. Metacritic, which was launched in 2001, also creates a movie critic consensus rating for individual movies. Initially, I felt that using two movie critic rating website scores in my selection algorithm might be redundant. I chose to use Rotten Tomatoes because it used more critic reviews and it provided ratings for almost every movie ever made. Metacritic is more hit and miss for movies released prior to its 2001 launch. After choosing Rotten Tomatoes over Metacritic, I put Metacritic off to the side intending to study it more when I got the chance. Well, I’ve finally taken the time to analyze Metacritic and I’ve changed my tune. Metacritic ratings belong in my algorithm.

If you’ve never seen Metacritic ratings before, click here to view the website. They use  Green, Yellow, and Red recommendation symbols which parallel Rotten Tomatoes’ Certified Fresh, Fresh, and Rotten Ratings. Metacritic uses fewer critics but they evaluate the quality of the critics and weight their final ratings towards the better critics.

Both movie critic rating systems are predictive of whether you will “really like” a particular movie. Here are the “really like” probabilities that a specific Rotten Tomatoes Rating will produce a rating of 7 or better on IMDB:

IMDB 7+ Prob.
Certified Fresh 79.3%
Fresh 72.1%
Rotten 59.5%

and here are the probabilities for Metacritic recommendations:

IMDB 7+ Prob.
Green 78.7%
Yellow 67.5%
Red 56.1%

Both rating systems are predictive of how people who see the movies will rate the movies. But, is their value in using both rating systems in the algorithm? Are they redundant?

The answer lies in the methodologies used in each rating system. They measure different things. Rotten Tomatoes measures how often the universe of critics recommend a movie. Metacritic measures how much the critics in their universe like a movie. Rotten Tomatoes uses a quantitative measure. Metacritic uses a qualitative measure. They should complement rather than replicate each other.

The data supports the complementary nature of Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.

7+ Prob.
Certified Fresh & Green 78.4%
Certified Fresh & Yellow 73.8%
Fresh & Green 73.8%
Fresh & Yellow 71.2%
Rotten & Green or Yellow 64.7%
Rotten & Red 56.1%

Certified Fresh movies that are also Green on Metacritic are more likely to be enjoyed by IMDB voters than movies that are Certified Fresh and Yellow. If you want to take a chance on a Rotten movie, stay away from the movies that Metacritic has also rated Red.

If you’ve reviewed the 2017 Objective Top Twenty within the last two weeks, you’ll note that there is a Metacritic column. That signifies that Metacritic has made the grade. It is in the algorithm and is a viable tool in our quest to find more “really like” movies.

 

If January Makes You Shiver with Every Movie They Deliver, Then Stick with the Oscar Bait.

What do the movies Molly’s GameThe PostPhantom Thread, and Hostiles have in common? For one thing, they all hope to receive Academy Award nominations when they are announced on January 23rd. Secondly, after going into limited release in December to qualify for 2017 movie awards, most of the world will finally get a chance to actually see these movies this January. Thirdly, these movies are the early front-runners for the 2018 Objective Top Twenty. Finally, they will be your very best bets for “really like” movies released in January.

Why do movie producers push some Oscar contenders into January and sometimes even into February? Are these movies artistically worthy but with limited audience appeal? Sometimes. That may be the case with Hostiles, for example. I’ve heard that the beginning of the movie is intensely violent which might turn off audiences, particularly women and older audiences. The overall IMDB rating is 7.1 but the male/female split is 7.2 and 5.3 respectively. The age demographics in IMDB reflect similar polarization. Voters under 30 give it a 7.6 so far while voters 30 and older give it a 6.5. Like the similarly violent The Revenant, which also went into wide release in January, it may have a better chance to find it’s audience away from the family dominated audiences of December.

Phantom Thread is another movie that might not appeal to wide audiences. This is a Paul Thomas Anderson directed film and, to say the least, he is an acquired taste, a taste that I have yet to acquire. The last time he collaborated with Daniel Day-Lewis was for the film There Will Be Blood, a movie I hated. Personal opinion aside, it has been reported that Phantom Thread may be the most mainstream movie that Paul Thomas Anderson has ever made. Early IMDB ratings are strong with an average rating of 8.8. Sometimes the selection of a release date is nothing more than superstition. There Will Be Blood opened on Jan 25, 2007, which is approximately the same weekend (Jan 19th) when Phantom Thread will open.

Molly’s Game, which I was fortunate to see already, is definitely not a January holdover because it lacks audience appeal. It’s IMDB rating is 7.6 and it is consistently strong across all demographic groups. This is an under-buzzed movie and sometimes the strategy is to roll out a movie slowly to build up the buzz.

The Post, on the other hand has all the buzz and star power it needs. With Spielberg, Streep and Hanks, along with a topical storyline, this movie screams Best Picture. So why slide this movie into January. It’s strategic. The producers hope that this will be the movie that everyone is talking about when Oscar voting is taking place. The strategy is to have the buzz be about The Post just as the buzz is winding down for other Best Picture contenders like The Shape of Water and Lady Bird.

So what about the rest of the January releases. Well, you might find a diamond in the rough but the odds are against you.

% with IMDB Rating 7+ Probability You Will “Really Like”
Prior Year Oscar Contender Jan. Wide Release 84.3% 75.39%
All Other January Wide Releases 51.3% 64.81%
Movies Released in All Other Months 72.0% 71.20%

The high IMDB ratings go to the prior year hold-overs and not the movies being released for the first time in January. The movies held over from the prior year are better, on average, than the movies produced over the remaining eleven months. The remaining January movies are significantly worse.

To avoid the January shivers on your next trip to the Cineplex, stick to the Oscar bait from last year, whenever it was released.

 

 

These Were My Top “Really Love” Movies of 2017

Tis the season to make year end lists. You have probably run across dozens of top ten movie lists for 2017. Why should mine be any different? It shouldn’t be but it is. Instead of limiting myself to the small pool of 2017 releases, I add all of the other movies I’ve seen this year, regardless of the year it was released. My top ten list is from the 153 movies I’ve watched this year. Three 2017 releases are on my list, along with a late 2016 release. The remaining six are movies that I first watched over fifteen years ago but took another bite of this year.

Here we go starting at the top:

  1. Casablanca (1943). I watched this with my son on Christmas night. It is one of those rare studio movies that still connects with a younger generation. I think Roger Ebert, in his Great Movie review of the film, states it well. “Seeing the film over and over again, year after year, I find it never grows over-familiar. It plays like a favorite musical album; the more I know it, the more I like it. The black-and-white cinematography has not aged as color would. The dialogue is so spare and cynical it has not grown old-fashioned. ” I wouldn’t presume to say it better than Roger. Here’s looking at you kid.
  2. Lady Bird (2017). Saoirse Ronan communicates more with her eyes than most actors communicate with their speech. At the age of 23 she is one of the great actors of our day. Combine that acting talent with Greta Gerwig’s genuine and fresh vision of the “coming of age” story and you end up with one of the best reviewed movies in the history of Rotten Tomatoes. Like Casablanca, Lady Bird tells its story in less than one hour and forty five minutes. Both are good examples of how sometimes less is more.
  3. Beauty and the Beast (2017). Although The Last Jedi is likely to become the number one worldwide Box Office champion for 2017, as of today, that distinction goes to Beauty and the Beast. Despite that success, I didn’t find much love for the film in the year end top ten lists. For me, it is the most fun I’ve had at the movie theatre in 2017. I also believe that Emma Watson provided us with one of the most under-appreciated acting performances of the year.
  4. A Beautiful Mind (2002). This is one of my not seen in fifteen year movies. When I wait fifteen years for a movie that I’m seeing for just the second time, it feels like the first time. A Beautiful Mind was better the second time around than the first. I don’t believe that I appreciated the first time how effectively Ron Howard tells a story on the screen that takes place most of the time in the mind of John Nash.
  5. Molly’s Game (2017). This movie has been getting second tier awards buzz. In other words, not Best Picture worthy, but a contender for supporting awards. I went to see it in the theatre because Aaron Sorkin is my favorite screenwriter. This movie blew me away with how good it was. Jessica Chastain chews up Sorkin’s screenplay and provides a performance for the ages. Idris Elba is Oscar-worthy in a Supporting Role. Molly’s Game did not get a Golden Globe nomination for Best Drama. With the exception of Dunkirk, I haven’t seen the other four nominees. They will be hard pressed to be better than Molly’s Game.
  6. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002). In my opinion, this is the greatest movie trilogy of all time. Like Tolkien’s three books, you can’t separate one of the three movies from the whole. They are one long form story. Similar to the Star Wars trilogies, the second movie sets up the premise that it is always darkest before the dawn.
  7. The Deer Hunter (1979). This is a three hour movie that doesn’t feel like three hours. I watched it for the third time this year and it doesn’t lose its powerful anti-war message in the retelling. Meryl Streep is likely to earn her twenty first Oscar nomination this year. Her supporting role in The Deer Hunter produced her first nomination.
  8. Black Hawk Down (2002). Another fifteen year movie that surprised me the second time around. This is a movie about mission creep and the chaos of modern warfare. I felt like I understood this movie better the second time around. Maybe the War on Terror that has filled the intervening fifteen years has made me more attuned to what is going on in this film. For whatever reason, this movie communicates the chaos that can arise in the fog of war better now than it did fifteen years ago.
  9. Cool Hand Luke  (1967). Some actors have a charismatic presence that is bigger than the films they appear in. The movies become a “Jack Nicholson” movie or a “John Wayne” movie. Cool Hand Luke is a “Paul Newman” movie at the height of his charisma. In the first half of his career he was a star. In the second half of his career many would argue he became an actor. This is probably the fourth time I’ve seen this movie. Newman dominates the film and he never fails to communicate that he is a star.
  10. Hacksaw Ridge (2016). This is the fourth war movie on my list, if you consider Casablanca a war movie, which I do. It is the only one of the four that is about unadulterated heroism. What makes this movie unique is that it isn’t the heroism of a John Wayne war movie and its theme of righteous killing. It is the true story of a conscientious objector, Desmond Doss, who earns the Medal of Honor without firing a single shot at an enemy. It is a compelling story with an Oscar nominated performance from Andrew Garfield.

Of the 153 movies I saw in 2017, all but 11 were at least “really like” movies. These ten movies just happen to be the best. Starting next Monday we begin compiling a new list of “really love” movies.

 

Merry Christmas

No in depth movie analysis this week. Like many of you, I’m enjoying the holidays with family and friends, and a few movies tossed in. I will be back next week with my year end list of the top ten movies I watched in 2017. Until then here’s wishing you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas and a Happy “really like” movie New Year.

 

Expectations Are High For Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Coco, your three week reign at the top of the box office is over. Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens this weekend and it doesn’t take a genius to predict that it will dominate the box office over the next several weeks. Every movie in the Star Wars franchise has been the number one movie for the year at the box office except for Attack of the Clones. Last Jedi is going to be the number one movie this year. That’s the easy part. What’s a little harder is predicting whether Last Jedi will be a step up or a step back from Star Wars: The Force Awakens in terms of quality. I have an opinion but first a little history.

The original trilogy was launched in 1977. When it was first released Star Wars: A New Hope was known just as Star Wars. It didn’t have a lot of pretensions beyond that. It went on to become a cultural phenomenon, a monster hit at the box office, and a force at the Academy Awards with ten nominations and four wins. It is the only movie in the franchise to earn a major nomination (Best Picture). The rest is history.

Here are the objective “really like” probabilities  for the original trilogy:

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope 1977 76.58%
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back 1980 76.58%
Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi 1983 74.89%

While Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back matches A New Hope’s “really like probability”, Empire Strikes Back has a slight objective edge. It has an IMDB rating of 8.8 compared to an 8.7 for A New Hope. Empire Strikes Back also is 94% Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes while A New Hope is 93% Certified Fresh. Return of the Jedi, although a notch below the first two movies, is a worthy cap to one of the great trilogies of all time.

A new trilogy that filled in the history of the beloved characters from the original trilogy seemed like a good idea. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace shows that good ideas can quickly turn into bad ideas if the execution is flawed. Phantom Menace almost killed the franchise. Phantom Menace had a worldwide box office gross of over $1 billion. The next movie in the trilogy, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, dropped to $650 million worldwide despite being a better movie than Phantom Menace. It is the only movie in the franchise to earn a Rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes. For me, the introduction of the obnoxious character Jar Jar Binks totally turned me off to the whole trilogy. The objective “really like” results for the prequel reflect the drop in quality.

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace 1999 69.51%
Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones 2002 71.01%
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith 2005 73.74%

Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith put the franchise back on the path to recovery. It got solid reviews and fan feedback and the worldwide box office recovered its mojo with over $850 million and a number one ranking.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens continues the story of the original trilogy. Many felt it was too derivative. It was too much like A New Hope. Another way of looking at it was that it returned the franchise to its roots. However you look at it, though, it was very well done. Only A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back has a higher Objective “Really Like” Probability.

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens 2015 75.26%
Star Wars: The Last Jedi 2017 75.93%
Star Wars: Episode IX 2019 ?

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is off to a good start based on early feedback from moviegoers and critics. Its objective probability is running a little ahead of The Force Awakens so far.

The second movies of the two prior trilogies both stepped up from the first movies. In each of the first movies there is early success for good over evil. In the second movies, it is the Dark Side that is ascendant. It may be that the rise of evil presents more interesting story lines than the triumph of good.

I try to avoid reviews before I see a movie and so I don’t know where the plot heads in The Last Jedi. I suspect that it will follow the Dark Side ascendant theme. This allows for more interesting plot twists and in the end will raise the movie to a step up from the original in the trilogy. At least, that is what I expect.

 

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