Will I "Really Like" this Movie?

Navigating Movie Website Ratings to Select More Enjoyable Movies

When Art Mirrors Reality: American History X and the Events in Charlottesville

At the end of July I went through my monthly ritual of identifying movies I had watched 15 years ago and moving them onto my list of potential movies to watch now. One of these recycled movies, American History x, immediately moved to the top of my Watch List. Because it wasn’t available on any of the platforms I subscribe to, I added it to the top of my Netflix DVD queue. It was happenstance that I watched this DVD yesterday, a few days after the events in Charlottesville.

My experience has been that, when these movies come up for a second viewing fifteen years later, I have a couple of common recollections of the movie. I have a general memory of what the movie is about. I have very little memory of the details of the movie. And, most importantly, I have a distinct memory of whether I “really liked” the movie even if everything else about the movie is indistinct. If it happens that I remember “loving” a movie, I know that I am about to re-experience the highs of being a movie lover even if I can’t remember why.

I have no memory of American History X when it was first released. It was only a few years later that my exploration of IMDB surfaced this movie that was highly rated but was about a topic that repulsed me, the neo-Nazi movement in California. It took a little time but I finally overcame my reluctance and watched it in 2002, four years after it was released. I remember being surprised at how good a movie it was.

The movie is told in two stories. One story is the 24 hour period after Derek Vinyard, played by Edward Norton, is released from prison after serving three years for voluntary manslaughter of two black men who were attempting to steal his car. His prison experience leads him to rethink the path he followed and is determined to dissuade his younger brother, Danny, from following down the same path.

Danny tells the second story. At the beginning of the movie, a teacher, who is trying to get through to Danny, gives Danny an assignment to write a history about his brother, called American History X. This second story is a flashback, filmed in black and white, of Derek’s evolution from inquisitive high-schooler to neo-Nazi leader to his disillusionment with the movement.

I watched it yesterday with a heightened sense of its relevance. I listened to the rhetoric spewed by  Derek and was amazed how closely it mirrored the rhetoric we hear daily. I noted how the two main characters in the movie were well educated, just as many of the neo-Nazi marchers at Charlottesville were young college educated males. The movie portrays the recruitment of young men who have been preyed upon or feel vulnerable with the pitch that their problems are caused by “those people” rather than their own inability to cope with the lemons that life has tossed their way.

One scene in the film is particularly poignant. There is a flashback of high school aged Derek having breakfast with the father he idolized. Derek is expressing his excitement about a class he is having that is exposing him to cultural experiences of other races. His father, a fireman and otherwise decent man, shuts him down and proceeds to indoctrinate him in his racist “reality”. I immediately thought of Barack Obama’s viral tweet of the words of Nelson Mandela, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate…”

At the end of the movie, the younger brother, Danny, narrates the end of his American History X paper with the following words:

“So I guess this is where I tell you what I learned – my conclusion, right? Well, my conclusion is: Hate is baggage. Life’s too short to be pissed off all the time. It’s just not worth it. Derek says it’s always good to end a paper with a quote. He says someone else has already said it best. So if you can’t top it, steal from them and go out strong. So I picked a guy I thought you’d like. ‘We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.’ “

Danny is quoting here from Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address. We can only hope that the hardened shells of our hatred can be penetrated “by the better angels of our nature”.

What Is the Best Month for New Movie Releases? You Might Be Surprised.

Remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned that we were experiencing an unusual run of good July movies. Well…maybe it’s not so unusual.

After I made that comment, I made a mental note to myself to check and see how accurate my impressions were. I would have preferred to wait for this study until I had a large enough sample in the Objective Database I’m developing. An assessment based on say IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes ratings would probably be a lot more meaningful to you. But, that database isn’t large enough yet and my curiosity got the better of me. So, I took a peek at my own ratings and I was mildly surprised.

Based on the 2,016 movies I’ve seen in the last fifteen years, July releases had the highest percentage of “really like” movies for me. Here’s my ranking:

Really Liked Didn’t Really Like Total % “Really Like”
 All             878            610           1,488 59.0%
 Jul                96               52              148 64.9%
 Dec             147               86              233 63.1%
 Nov             107               63              170 62.9%
 May                86               57              143 60.1%
 Jan                93               68              161 57.8%
 Feb                78               58              136 57.4%
 Aug                85               69              154 55.2%
 Oct             109               91              200 54.5%
 Mar                77               66              143 53.8%
 Sep                85               74              159 53.5%
 Apr                79               69              148 53.4%
 Jun                83               99              182 45.6%

I had assumed that December and November movies would top the list with their appeal to Oscar voters and the holiday movie crowd. But, on the surface, it looks like it is the lazy summer days of July that have the highest likelihood of a “really like” trip to the Cineplex.

While the rankings by month displayed above aren’t illogical, they do suggest the need for a more objective foundation. Consider that I’ve watched 233 December releases compared to only 148 July releases. Does that suggest that I’m more susceptible to the Oscar bait of December? Or, that I’m more selective in which July movies I see? For now, let’s just say that the data is suggestive and interesting, but not definitive. Just be careful what you see at the theater between now and November.

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My rule of thumb for August releases is to avoid big budget movies and seek out a solid, small budget independent release. For those of you, like my wife, who have been waiting for The Glass Castle, the early reviews are not great. So far, it is 42% Rotten on Rotten Tomatoes. That rating, though, is based on only 24 critic reviews and so you can still hope. I just wouldn’t run out and see it right away.

The better bets are a couple of smaller movies. Wind River, which I commented on last week, went into limited release last weekend and goes into wide release this weekend. So far it has a 7.6 average rating on IMDB and is 87% Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Also, you might check out Ingrid Goes West which premiered at Sundance in January but goes into wide release this weekend. The movie’s leads, Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen, have been getting strong early reviews for their performances. Interestingly, Olsen has one of the leads in Wind River as well.

 

What IMDB Ratings Give You the Best Chance for a “Really Like” Movie?

As I was browsing the IMDB ratings for the movies released in July, I wondered how the average user of IMDB knows what is a good rating for a movie. I’m sure the more than casual visitor to IMDB would see the 8.2 rating for Baby Driver and immediately recognize that only above average movies receive ratings that high. Or, they might see the 1.5 rating for The Emoji Movie and fully understand that this is a really bad movie. But, what about the 6.8 for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets or the 7.2 for Atomic Blonde. They might have a number in their head as to what is the tipping point for a good and bad rating but that number could only be a guess. To really know, you’d have to compile a list of all the movies you’ve seen and compare their IMDB rating to how you’ve rated them. That would be crazy. Right? But, wait a minute. I’m that crazy! I’ve done that! Well, maybe not every movie I’ve ever seen. But, every movie I’ve seen in the last fifteen years.

So, given the fact that I’ve done what only a crazy man would do, what can I tell you about what is a good IMDB rating. Here’s my breakdown:

IMDB Avg. Rating # I Really Liked # I Didn’t Really Like Really Like %
> 8.2 108 43 71.5%
7.2 to 8.1 732 427 63.2%
6.2 to 7.1 303 328 48.0%
< 6.2 6 71 7.8%
> 7.2 840 470 64.1%
< 7.2 309 399 43.6%
All 1149 869 56.9%

The data suggests that IMDB ratings of 7.2 or higher give me the best chance of choosing a “really like” movie.

I mentioned a few posts ago that my new long range project is to develop a database that is totally objective, free from the biases of my movie tastes. I’m compiling data for the top 150 movies in box office receipts for the last 25 years. It’s a time-consuming project that should produce a more robust sample for analysis. One of my concerns has been that the database of movies that I’ve seen doesn’t have a representative sample of bad movies. While it’s a long way from completion, I have completed years 1992 and 1993 which are representative enough to make my point.

IMDB Avg. Rating % of All Movies in Objective Database (Years 1992 & 1993) % of All Movies in My Seen Movie Database
> 8.2 1% 7%
7.2 to 8.1 23% 57%
6.2 to 7.1 35% 31%
< 6.2 41% 4%

Over the last six or seven years in particular, I have made a concerted effort to avoid watching bad movies. You can see this in the data. If 7.2 is the “really like” benchmark, then only 24% of the top 150 movies at the box office are typically “really like” movies. On the other hand, my selective database has generated 64% “really like” movies over the past 15 years. This is a big difference.

***

While no new movies broke into the Objective Top Fifteen this week, Megan Leavy, which was released around eight weeks ago, slipped into the list. This under-the-radar movie didn’t have enough critics’ reviews to be Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes until recently.

As for this weekend, The Dark Tower could be a disappointment to everyone but the most die-hard of Stephen King fans. Instead, I’m keeping an eye on Detroit. This urban drama, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, captures the chaos of Detroit in 1967. It probably will be surveyed by Cinemascore.

A third movie, that probably won’t be surveyed by Cinemascore but I’m watching nevertheless, is Wind River. Taylor Sheridan, who wrote the acclaimed movies Hell or High Water and Sicario, wrote this movie. Sheridan is a great young talent who is stepping behind the camera in his directorial debut as well.

 

 

 

 

Why Did “The Big Sick” Drop Out of the Objective Top Fifteen This Week?

This past Sunday my wife, Pam, and I went to see The Big Sick. The movie tells the story of the early relationship days of the two screenwriters, Emily Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani. In fact, Nanjiani plays himself in the movie. It is the authenticity of the story, told in a heartfelt and humorous way, that makes this film special.

On the following day, last weekend’s blockbuster, Dunkirk, moved into the second spot in the revised Objective Top Fifteen rankings. When a new movie comes on the list another one exits. This week’s exiting movie, ironically, was The Big Sick. Wait! If The Big Sick is such a great movie why isn’t it in my top fifteen for the year? Are all of the other movies on the list better movies? Maybe yes. Maybe no. You’ll have to determine that for yourselves. You see the Objective Top Fifteen is your list, not mine.

I developed the Objective Top Ten, which became Fifteen the beginning of July and will become Twenty the beginning of October, to provide you with a ranking of 2017 widely released movies that are most likely to be “really like” movies. Because the ranking is based on objective benchmarks, my taste in movies has no influence on the list. The four benchmarks presently in use are: IMDB Avg. Rating, Rotten Tomatoes Rating, Cinemascore Rating, and Academy Award Nominations and Wins. A movie like Hidden Figures that meets all four benchmarks has the greatest statistical confidence in its “really like” status and earns the highest “really like” probability. A movie that meets three benchmarks has a greater “really like” probability than a movie that meets only two benchmarks. And so on.

The important thing to note, though, is that this is not a list of the fifteen best movies of the year. It is a ranking of probabilities (with some tie breakers thrown in) that you’ll “really like” a movie. It is subject to data availability. The more positive data that’s available, the more statistical confidence, i.e. higher probability, the model has in the projection.

Which brings me back to The Big Sick. Cinemascore surveys those movies that they consider “major releases”. The Big Sick probably didn’t have a big advertising budget. Instead, the producers of the film chose to roll the movie out gradually, beginning on June 23rd, to create some buzz and momentum behind the movie before putting it into wide release on July 14th. This is probably one of the reasons why Cinemascore didn’t survey The Big Sick. But, because The Big Sick is missing that third benchmark needed to develop a higher probability, it dropped out of the Top Fifteen. On the other hand, if it had earned at least an “A-” from Cinemascore The Big Sick would be the #2 movie on the list based on the tie breakers.

And, that is the weakness, and strength of movie data. “Major releases” have it. Smaller movies like The Big Sick don’t.

***

This weekend may be the end of the four week run of Objective Top Fifteen movie breakthroughs. Atomic Blonde, the Charlize Theron spy thriller, has an outside chance of earning a spot on the list. As of this morning, it is borderline for the IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes benchmarks. I’m also tracking Girls Trip which earned a Certified Fresh just in the last couple of days from Rotten Tomatoes and has an “A+” in hand from Cinemascore. For now, it is just below the IMDB benchmark. We’ll see if that changes over the weekend.

 

 

Vacation, My 100th Post, and a July “Really Like” Movie Hot Streak

I arrived in the city of Seattle yesterday in the wee hours of the morning. I’m here to introduce myself to my new, beautiful granddaughter. So if there is a contemplative, or distracted, feel to this week’s post, there is good reason.

This is also my 100th post. Not quite as momentous as your first grandchild, but a marker worthy of reflection nevertheless. It has been a labor of love and a challenge. Blogging was new to me when I started out 99 posts ago. I discovered that you don’t find your voice in the first post. Little by little though you develop a style that you become comfortable with and readers of your blog become comfortable with. If you’re lucky, enough people become engaged in your passion and come back for more. Thanks for your support if you’re one of those loyal followers, or even if you’ve just stopped by for an occasional “check and see”. On to the next 100 posts beginning with a look at what’s caught my eye at the Cineplex this coming weekend.

Dunkirk, which goes into wide release tomorrow, is poised to become the fourth high quality mega-hit in four weeks. As of this morning, it is 94% Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. And, the early overseas feedback on IMDB has produced an impressive 9.6 average rating. This Christopher Nolan depiction of the rescue of the surrounded British army at the beginning of World War II is being compared to the classic Saving Private Ryan. The Saving Private Ryan comparison benchmarks to keep an eye on are Certified Fresh 92%, IMDB Avg Rating 8.6 and Cinemascore “A”. Pre-wide release Dunkirk is exceeding the Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB scores. We’ll have to wait until Saturday for Cinemascore results. I’m excited about this one.

In addition to off schedule posts to this site, vacation for the Mad Movie Man invariably involves a trip to the movies. With an unusually high number of Certified Fresh movies at the theater it is almost a can’t miss proposition. But, the absolute can’t miss feature of this vacation is the incredible miracle of my granddaughter Addie Rose.

This Is Turning Into a “Really Like” Summer at the Movies.

In case you haven’t noticed, we are in the midst of a pretty good run of high quality movies this summer. Since the first weekend in May, which serves as the unofficial beginning of the summer movie season, there have been at least ten movies that have a 7.2 or higher IMDB average rating and have a Certified Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

May to July 2017 Wide Released Movies IMDB Rating Rotten Tomatoes Rating Rotten Tomatoes % Fresh
Baby Driver 8.4 C. Fresh 97%
Spider-Man: Homecoming 8.2 C. Fresh 93%
Wonder Woman 8.0 C. Fresh 92%
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 8.1 C. Fresh 81%
Big Sick, The 8.0 C. Fresh 97%
I, Daniel Blake  7.9 C. Fresh 92%
A Ghost Story 7.5 C. Fresh 87%
Okja 7.7 C. Fresh 84%
The Beguiled  7.3 C. Fresh 77%
The Hero  7.3 C. Fresh 76%

And if early indicators are accurate, War for the Planet of the Apes will join the list after this coming weekend. And, if the early buzz on social media holds up, Christopher Nolan’s new movie Dunkirk will join the list the following weekend.

This seems to me to be an unusually high number of quality movies for the summer so far but I can’t tell you how unusual…yet. I’m working on a new long term project. I’m creating a database solely made up of objective “really like” movie indicators. It will include all movies finishing in the top 150 in receipts at the box office for each of the last 25 years. This database will provide a better representation of the bad movies that are released each year as well as provide a more robust sample size.

For now, I can only compare this year’s quality to 1992 (the first of the 25 years in my new database). Allowing for the fact that Rotten Tomatoes wasn’t launched until 1998, I’ve allowed movies that aren’t Certified Fresh but would otherwise be if there were enough critic reviews of the movie. Even with that allowance, there are only 3 movies released between May and July 1992 that meet the quality criteria I’m using for this summer.

May to July 1992 Wide Released Movies IMDB Rating Rotten Tomatoes Rating Rotten Tomatoes % Fresh
Night on Earth             7.5 Fresh 73%
Enchanted April             7.6 Fresh 83%
A League of Their Own             7.2 C. Fresh 78%

I’ll also add that the IMDB average ratings tend to decline over time. It is probable that a few of this year’s movies will ultimately not meet the 7.2 IMDB rating minimum. But, with 7 of the 10 movies sitting with IMDB ratings at 7.7 or better, this year’s list should hold up pretty well over time.

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As I mentioned above War for the Planet of the Apes opens tomorrow. It is easy to overlook how good this franchise has been. Here are the “really like” indicators for the franchise including a very early look at tomorrow’s entry.

IMDB Rating Rotten Tomatoes Rating Rotten Tomatoes % Fresh Cinema Score
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)             7.6 C. Fresh 81% A-
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)             7.6 C. Fresh 90% A-
War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)             9.1 C. Fresh 93% ?

Franchises tend to get tired after the first movie. From the critics’ perspective, this franchise appears to get better with each new movie. I expect to see War for the Planet of the Apes on the Objective Top Fifteen list on Monday.

What Was The “Really Like” Movie of 2016? The Result May Surprise You.

According to Box Office Mojo, the website that tracks all things related to movie box office results, Baby Driver was last weekend’s big surprise at the box office. It also debuted in the number two spot on the 2017 Objective Top Fifteen posted on this site on Monday. What exactly does that mean? Not much yet. Think of it as the score in a game that is almost half over where most of the scoring occurs near the end of the game. The final result won’t crystalize until the Academy Award winners are announced next February. Also, keep in mind that most of the major Oscar contenders won’t be released until late in the year.

To give you some idea of what a final score does look like, here is the 2016 Objective Top Ten:

Top Ten 2016 Movies Based on Objective Criteria
As Of 7/7/2017
2016 Released Movies Oscar Noms/ Wins IMDB Rating Rotten Tomatoes Rating Rotten Tomatoes % Fresh Cinema Score Objective “Really Like” Probability
Hacksaw Ridge 6/2 8.2 C. Fresh 87% A 65.9%
La La Land 14/6 8.2 C. Fresh 92% 65.7%
Big Short, The 5/1 7.8 C. Fresh 88% A- 65.4%
Moonlight 8/3 7.5 C. Fresh 98% 65.1%
Fences 4/1 7.3 C. Fresh 93% A- 65.0%
Rogue One 2/0 7.9 C. Fresh 85% A 64.7%
Deepwater Horizon 2/0 7.2 C. Fresh 84% A- 64.7%
Jungle Book, The 1/1 7.5 C. Fresh 95% A 64.6%
Sully 1/0 7.5 C. Fresh 85% A 64.6%
Revenant, The 12/3 8.0 C. Fresh 81% B+ 64.6%

Just to clarify, eligibility for the list is based on when a movie goes into wide release. This pits Oscar contenders from 2015, like The Big Short and The Revenant, that were widely released in early 2016 against Oscar contenders from 2016, like Moonlight and La La Land, that were widely released late in 2016.

Are you surprised that Hacksaw Ridge is the 2016 “Really Like” Movie of the Year? The response of movie watchers is what separates this movie from the others,. That, and the fact that Cinemascore for some reason didn’t survey La La Land. I will say this though. I have talked to people who didn’t like Moonlight. I have also talked to people who felt that La La Land was over-hyped. But, I haven’t talked to a single person who hasn’t “really liked” Hacksaw Ridge.

This ranking approach intersects a number of different movie viewing perspectives. Movie critics are represented in Rotten Tomatoes. People who go to the movie theaters on opening weekend and provide feedback before movie word of mouth has influenced their opinion are represented by Cinemascore. People who watch movies on a variety of platforms are represented by IMDB. And, finally, the people who understand how difficult it is to create movies, the artists themselves, are represented by their Academy Award performance. All of them are statistically significant indicators of whether you will “really like” a movie or not.

All of you won’t like every movie on this list. While there is around a 65% chance you will “really like” these movies, there is also around a 35% chance that you won’t. All I’m saying is that there is better chance that you will “really like” one of these movies rather than the latest installment in the Transformers or Pirates of the Caribbean franchises.

***

While my last paragraph may sound as if I have a reflexive aversion to movies that are part of a franchise, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Whether it’s part of a franchise or not, well made movies with fresh perspectives are worth the time of movie-lovers. The big movie opening this weekend is the second reboot of the Spider-Man franchise, Spider-Man: Homecoming and I’m really looking forward to it. The early indicators from Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB are all positive. Keep an eye on this one.

Cinemascore Is a “Really Like” Indicator

Those of  you who checked in on Monday to see the updated Objective Top Ten may have noticed that Cinemascore grades were included in the information provided for each movie. If you were particularly observant, you might have also noticed that the bar at the top of the page, which includes links to the movie ratings websites I use, now includes the link to Cinemascore. All of which means that Cinemascore grades are now officially included in the “really like” algorithm.

As I’ve mentioned before, the folks at Cinemascore have been surveying moviegoers as they leave the theater since 1978. They limit their surveys to the three or four movies each week that they suspect will do the best at the box office. This limited sample of movies represents around 40% of the movies in my database, which is a plenty big enough sample for me to work with.

The other factor in using the data is that the grades seem to line up with their “really like” potential.

Cinemascore Database Results
Grade Database Total Graded “Really Like” %
A+ 51 82%
A 201 80%
A- 212 73%
B+ 156 58%
B 117 50%
B- 52 42%
C+ 21 33%
C 9 11%
C- 4 0%
D+ 1 0%
D 0 0%
D- 1 0%

The “really like” percentages follow a logical progression by grade. Now, because the sample sizes for each grade are relatively small, I’ve had to group the grades into two buckets that represent above average Cinemascore grades and below average grades.

All Grades               825 65%
A+,A, A-               464 77%
All Other               361 50%

This suggests that a good Cinemascore grade is an A- or better (Talk about grade inflation!!). The statistical gap between the two buckets is great enough for it to be an effective differentiator of “really like” movies.

The practical effect of this change is that the Objective Top Ten will be more weighted to mainstream movies. Independent movies are less likely to be surveyed by Cinemascore for example. On the other hand, a movie like Hidden Figures, which already benefitted from high IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes scores, now adds a Cinemascore grade of A+. This makes the model even more confident that this movie is a “really like” movie and as a result the probability % for the movie goes higher, lifting it to the top of the list.

I’m excited about this enhancement and I hope you will be too.

***

I mentioned last week that I had my eye on two movies, The Beguiled and The Big Sick. I jumped the gun a little bit because both of these movies only went into limited release last Friday. The Beguiled goes into wide release tomorrow, while The Big Sick goes into wide release on July 14th. Baby Driver, which went into wide release yesterday, is another new movie that looks good from the early indicators.

Next Monday the Objective Top Ten will become the Objective Top Fifteen (just in case you needed something else to look forward to this weekend). Have a “Really Like” 4th of July weekend at the movies!

Musings After a Quiet Movie Weekend

There were no changes this week to the 2017 Objective Top Ten. None of the movies that opened last weekend earned a Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. So, I have nothing to talk about. Right? Oh, you are so wrong.

First, regarding that Objective Top Ten that I update every Monday, I want to be clear about something. I’m not suggesting that you will like every movie on that list. I’m not suggesting that there aren’t good movies that didn’t make the list. In fact, my two favorite movies so far, Beauty and the Beast and Gifted, aren’t on the list. It is just an objective measure of quality. It doesn’t take into account your personal taste in movies. For example, if you typically don’t like Art House movies you may not like Kedi, which is a documentary about the hundreds of thousands of cats that have been roaming Istanbul for thousands of years, or Truman, which is a Spanish language film that celebrates the enduring nature of good friendship. These low budget movies tend to take risks and aren’t intended to please the general audience. But, would you really prefer to see the new Transformers movie which opened yesterday and is 16% Rotten on Rotten Tomatoes? You may prefer to avoid all three movies and that’s okay. The point of the list is to give you a menu of quality movies and if any naturally intrigue you, the odds are that it will be a “really like” movie for you.

Turning from low budget Art House films to big budget Blockbusters, the success of two other movies on the list explain why movies based on comic books are here to stay for the foreseeable future. Logan with its estimated $97 million production budget and Wonder Woman with its estimated budget of $149 million have returned a tidy return in worldwide box office receipts of over $617 million and $578 million, respectively. When quality movies in the comic book genre are made, they spin box office gold.

A couple of other notes on the Objective Top Ten List. In July I plan to expand the list to fifteen movies and in October I’ll expand it again to twenty movies. This will better accommodate the number of quality movies that typically are released over the second half of the year. Also, I’m close to being able to incorporate Cinemascore grades into the probabilities for the Objective Top Ten. It’s possible that this change may be incorporated as early as next Monday’s update. This change will differentiate better one movie from the next.

Finally, two movies that I have my eye on for this weekend are The Beguiled ,which earned Sofia Coppola the top director award at Cannes, and The Big Sick, which is already 98% Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Leave Mummy Out of Your Father’s Day Plans

One of the goals of this blog is to make sure that you are aware of the internet tools that are out there to protect you from wasting your time on blockbusters like The Mummy. While it had a disappointing opening in the U.S., moviegoers still shelled out an estimated $32.2 million at the box office last weekend for this bad movie. Overseas it met its blockbuster expectations with a box office of $141.8 million. However, if you were really in the mood for a horror genre movie a better choice, but not a sure thing, might have been It Comes At Night which had a more modest U.S. box office of $6 million.

As a general rule, I won’t go to a movie on its opening weekend. I prefer to get at least a weekend’s worth of data. But if you just have to see a movie on its opening weekend here are a couple of hints. First, if you are seeing the movie on its opening Friday, the most reliable indicator is Rotten Tomatoes. Most critics have released their reviews before the day of the movie’s release. The Rotten Tomatoes rating on the movie’s release date is a statistically mature evaluation of the movie. It won’t change much after that day.

If you are going to the movies on the Saturday of opening weekend, you can add Cinemascore to the mix. I’ve blogged about this tool before. This grade is based on feedback moviegoers provide about the movie as they are leaving the theater. The grade is posted on the Saturday after the Friday release.

Finally, by Sunday IMDB will produce a pretty good, though slightly inflated, average rating for the movie.

The comparison of these three checkpoints for The Mummy and for It Comes At Night might’ve been helpful to those who thought they were in for a “really like” movie experience.

Rotten Tomatoes IMDB Avg. Rating Cinemascore Grade
The Mummy Rotten (17%) 5.9 B-
It Comes At Night Certified Fresh (86%) 7.2 D

While the Cinemascore grade of D for It Comes At Night would keep me away from opening weekend for both movies, if I had to see one, it wouldn’t be The Mummy.

Here’s the data behind my reasoning. For IMDB, the breakpoint between a movie with a good chance that I will “really like” it and one that I probably won’t like is an average rating of 7.2. Movies with a 7.2 IMDB average rating of 7.2 or higher I “really like” 63.3% of the time. Movies with an IMDB rating less than 7.2 I “really like” 43.3% of the time. Turning to Rotten Tomatoes, Movies that are Certified Fresh I “really like” 68% of the time. These “really like” percentages drop to 49.6% for movies that are Fresh and 37.5% for movies that are Rotten. So absent any information based on my own personal tastes, I won’t go to the movieplex to watch a movie that isn’t graded Certified Fresh by Rotten Tomatoes and has an IMDB Rating 7.2 or higher. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any movies out there that don’t meet that criteria that I wouldn’t “really like”. The movie may be in a genre that appeals to me which might provide some tolerance for a little less quality. That being said, the odds that I’ll “really like” a low rated movie are less than 50/50.

I should probably explore the potential of adding Cinemascore to the objective probability factors I use in developing “really like” probabilities. To date, though, I don’t have any Cinemascore data . I don’t yet have a feel for its “really like” reliability. For now, I just use it as another piece of data that might tip me one way or the other if I’m on the fence about a new movie.

Enjoy Father’s Day but stay away from Mummy.

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