Will I "Really Like" this Movie?

Navigating Movie Website Ratings to Select More Enjoyable Movies

Archive for the month “May, 2016”

Will June 2016 Movies be “Really Likeable”?

As I mentioned in my last post, based on my past experience, there is only a 36.1% chance that I will “really like” a movie released in June. With the odds against me, I set out to discover if I could find five movies with the potential to be “really like” movies. I found four that I feel pretty good about and a fifth that is a stretch. There is something here for a variety of movie tastes. I will link each movie to its IMDB site to give you more background if you’re interested.

As you might expect, I’m not content to just present these five movies. I’ve attached a probability that they will be a “really like” movie to each. I’ll keep the list on the sidebar with my other movie lists and will update the probabilities throughout the month as more information becomes available. Let’s get started. Here’s my list from the highest probability to the lowest.

Independence Day: Resurgence.  Release Date: June 24   “Really Like” Probability:  45.2%

This sequel to the highly successful  Independence Day (1996) is the blockbuster for the month, coming in with a budget of $200,000,000. It is released, and the story takes place, 20 years after the original. Several characters return for the sequel but not Will Smith’s character, Captain Steven Hiller. Liam Hemsworth steps in to take over the leading man role. There is already a trickling of positive ratings coming in on Movielens and Netflix.

Me Before You.    Release Date: June 3    “Really Like” Probability:  32.6%

In June 2014, Twentieth Century Fox went against the action blockbuster grain and released The Fault in Our Stars, a sentimental movie that appealed to all ages. MGM and New Line Cinema are trying to recreate the magic of 2014 with Me Before You, a similarly sentimental tear-jerker. Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke and Hunger Games’ Sam Claflin should be an attractive couple. We will know a lot more about this movie by its opening on Friday but early reviews and word of mouth are lukewarm. Don’t count out Daenerys Targaryen, mother of dragons, breaker of chains…. She’s been in tight spots before.

Free State of Jones.    Release Date: June 24   “Really Like” Probability:  32.6%

This tiny slice of Civil War history, starring Matthew McConaughey and Kerri Russell, piques my interest because of Director and Screenwriter, Gary Ross. I’ve “really liked” all five movies that I’ve seen of his. The Criticker average score I’ve given Gary Ross written movies is 82.67. The five movies are The Hunger Games, Big, SeabiscuitDave, and Pleasantville. There is very little advance word of mouth for this movie. This is strictly a vote for the pedigree of the Screenwriter and the Actors.

Finding Dory.    Release Date: June 17    “Really Like” Probability:  21.3%

In my last post, I mentioned that families with young children were a target audience for June movie distributors. Just in time for the end of the school year comes Finding Dory, the sequel to Finding Nemo. This is the movie that I’m most confident will see a climb in its “really like” probabilities. For now it reflects a minimal amount of available data. This will probably be the second blockbuster of the month behind Independence Day: Resurgence.

Swiss Army Man.    Release Date: June 24    “Really Like” Probability:  9.9%

This fifth choice is the best of too few viable options. It feels like an Oscar bait movie that is released in the summer because it is too quirky for general audiences. Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel  would fall into this category. It is a buddy picture with 2016 Golden Globe nominee,Paul Dano, playing a castaway and Daniel Radcliffe, of Harry Potter fame, playing the buddy, a rotting, farting corpse. This movie won the Directing Award at Sundance and was nominated for the Grand Jury Award for best dramatic film. It’s been reported that half the audience walked out of the film at Sundance while the other half who stayed loved the movie. Yep, it does sound like a Wes Anderson movie.

Well I hope you like my maiden voyage through the upcoming month in film. Let me know what you thought.

 

 

June Begins Something New

This post ushers in a new series of monthly posts for this blog. For the last two posts of each month I’ll be previewing the next month on the movie calendar. The first post will take a broad look at general trends for the month, using the data analysis you’ve grown accustomed to seeing on these pages. The second post will take a look at the specific movies being released during the month with an eye to identifying the best prospects for “really like” movies.

June has 8.2% of all of the days in the 2016 calendar and over the last five years 8.0% of all of the movies released have been released in June. Nothing startling there. What is noteworthy is that 11.3% of the annual movie theater gross box office sales is from June moviegoers. June generates above average revenue per movie released.

Who are the primary June moviegoers? College students home for summer vacation, with the stress of exam week behind them, are one source of movie traffic unique to June.. In the second half of the month, high school students, celebrating the end of another school year, and parents with younger children, trying to fill the extra hours available to spend with their kids, are another source.

So given the fact that June generates high revenue per movie driven by an influx of under 30 year olds, it shouldn’t be surprising that movies released in June have above average budgets and are targeted at young adults and children. In 2015 the top grossing June releases were:

Top Movies Gross (000000) Budget (000000)
Jurassic World $652.30  $                150.00
Inside Out $356.46  $                175.00
Spy $110.83  $                   65.00
Ted 2 $81.48  $                   68.00
Insidious Chapter 3 $52.22  $                   10.00

These five movies generated a gross box office of $1,253,290,000 against a combined budget of $468,000,000. Can you spell p-r-o-f-i-t-s?

The target audience in June is further reinforced by the IMDB demographic ratings for these five movies:

Under 30 Over 30
Top Movies Votes Rating Votes Rating
Jurassic World               165,019 7.1                 126,828             6.8
Inside Out               145,611                              8.4                   88,683             8.1
Spy                 67,352                            7.2                   53,304             6.9
Ted 2                 50,579                            6.5                   31,434             6.2
Insidious Chapter 3                 22,555                            6.2                   15,109             5.9
 All Five  $           451,116                            7.4  $             315,358             7.1

Under 30s rate these movies consistently higher than over 30s. Both demographics liked Inside Out and neither group was high on Ted 2 or Insidious: Chapter 2.

As a representative of the over 30 group, is June a good month for “really like” movies?  I’d say it’s a below average month. Based on the 168 June movies in my database, there is a 36.1% probability I will “really like” a movie released in June. Of the Top 50 IMDB movies, only 6% were released in June. Of the 43 Academy Award nominated movies for Best Picture over the last five years, only 2 were released in June.

It is just not a great month for adult-oriented movies. That being said, it isn’t a wasteland either. There are a number of movies that qualify as “really like” movies that were released in June. You might recall that movies recommended by all five of the websites I follow qualify as a “really like” movie. Here are five June “really like” movies:

Bourne Identity, The
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Apollo 13
Spider-Man 2
Cinderella Man

These five terrific movies offer up some hope that my search for June gems won’t result in a blank page when I return on Monday.

 

 

Will Family Movie Night Be Cringeworthy?

One of the activities we enjoy doing as a family is a trip to the movie theater to watch a movie we all want to see. In the summer of 2005, that movie was The 40 year-old Virgin. The R rating didn’t scare us away from this well-reviewed movie, since the kids were aged 18 to 23. As we walked out of this funny, but raunchy, film, my wife turned to me and said, “That was uncomfortable”. Sitting with our children through explicit sexual references, one after the other, turned family “fun day” into family “awkward” day. While we had no way of knowing, since we didn’t want to discuss it with them, it had to be uncomfortable for my daughter and two sons as well.

Fortunately, there is a website that can help avoid those embarrassing movie viewing situations. A fairly new site has been created, cringeMDb, which allows you to input a movie released between 1995 and 2015 to determine whether it is safe to watch with your parents. It’s not going to help you decide if a recent release is cringeworthy, and I don’t know if the site has plans to periodically add newer movies to the site but it will include many of the movies you might watch as a family in front of your own TV.

To provide some perspective on what movies might qualify as cringeworthy, I tested the tool against the eight 2016 Best Picture nominees:

2016 Best Picture Nominee cringeMDb Rating
Big Short, The Certified Cringeworthy
Bridge of Spies Certified Parent-Safe
Brooklyn Certified Cringeworthy
Mad Max: Fury Road Certified Parent-Safe
Martian, The Certified Cringeworthy
Revenant, The Certified Cringeworthy
Room Certified Parent-Safe
Spotlight Certified Cringeworthy

The site goes beyond the traditional rating system. Note that the R rated Mad Max: Fury Road is Certified Parent-Safe while the PG-13 Brooklyn is Certified Cringeworthy. In my opinion, the tool needs some more work. CringeMDb has almost no tolerance for any nudity or sexuality. I mean really, The Martian is cringeworthy? Not all sexual situations are cringeworthy. Spotlight, which my wife and I watched with my son, generated discussion of the topic, not embarrassment. You can register whether you agree or disagree with the rating the site generates and ideally your input would feed their algorithm. Whether it does or not I can’t say. Hopefully, it does. I’m confident the “wisdom of crowds” would do a fairly good job of defining the line where a movie crosses over into the cringeworthy zone.  It is an interesting and useful idea for a site and it is well worth watching to see if the developers do more with it.

Done right, cringeMDb, my children will thank you.

 

 

 

 

Will You “Really Like” This Movie

My vision for this blog has never been to recommend movies for you to watch. Instead, my focus has been to familiarize you with tools on the internet that will help you find movies that you will “really like”. I also realize that not everyone has the time to rate movies to generate personalized recommendations. So, each week I’ve been posting two lists of movies that I will “really like”, not so much as recommendations, but as ideas for movies you might look into. As I’ve generated these lists, however, I’ve discovered that finding movies with a high probability that I will “really like”, after already watching 1,981movies, can be problematic. Worse still, many of the movies that I’m suggesting you look into don’t even have a high probability that I will “really like” them.

With yesterday’s post I’ve substituted a new list for My Top Ten Movies to Watch, which was really a misnomer. It really was my top ten movies not including the 1,981 movies I’d already watched. The new list, that I call the Top Ten Movies You Will “Really Like” Available on Netflix and Amazon Prime, includes all of the movies I’ve already seen plus the movies I haven’t seen.

Where do these movies come from? They are movies that are recommended by all five of the websites that I use. They are recommended by IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes which are not influenced by my ratings. They are also influenced by the three sites that are driven by my tastes – Netflix, Movielens, and Criticker. When all five sites recommend a movie there is a 74% probability that I will “really like” it. Just to provide some perspective, the sites that you are most likely to use if you don’t have time to do your own ratings are IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes. If IMDB has a 7.4 or higher average rating for a movie, there is a 55.9% chance I will “really like” it. If a movie is Certified Fresh by Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 60.4% probability I will “really like” it.

Of  the 1,981 movies I’ve seen over the last 15 years, 438 have been recommended by all five sites. Of those 438, I “really liked” 362 of them, or 82.6% of them. That’s a high percentage for a relatively large sample size. These movies are your best bets. There are only 8 movies I haven’t seen in the last 15 years that meet the 74% criteria.

I’ve only posted 10 of the 446 movies that are universally recommended by all five sites. Most of those ten you have probably already seen, but they might be worth another look if you haven’t seen them in a while. They are also available to watch now if you are a Netflix and Amazon Prime subscriber. I want to help you find movies that you will “really like”, even if you don’t have the time to rate your own movies.

Movielens Knows About Your Ratings

In the connected world that we live in, everyone knows us. The NSA, TSA, political campaigns, and Netflix are among the organizations who have profiles on us based on information we’ve supplied on the internet. If you have doubts about this there is a website called AboutTheData.com that will provide you with the data that has been collected on you for the use of various marketing organizations. In the age of Big Data we have sacrificed privacy for the convenience internet access provides us.

Movielens also has a profile on you based on the movie ratings you have provided the website. Unlike so many of the Big Data organizations out there, Movielens shares with you what they know. When you open their website there is a drop down menu right next to their logo. ( MovieLens logo )   The second column in the menu is titled YOUR ACTIVITY. Click on the link titled ABOUT YOUR RATINGS and a page full of graphs and information is provided to you that will offer you insights into your taste in movies.

A review of my ABOUT YOUR RATINGS supplies the following information:

  • December 22, 2006 was the first day I entered movie ratings. I rated 49 movies that day. On May 13, 2016 I rated my 2,009th movie.
  • My most common movie rating is a 4.0 (a “really like” rating) which I’ve given to 494 out of the 2,009 rated movies.
  • 433 of my rated movies were released between 2005 and 20015.
  • Drama is my most watched and favorite genre with 1,371 movies and an average rating of 3.71. The next closest genres were Comedy, 588 movies with 3.48 avg. rating, and Romance, 580 movies with 3.61 average rating. Of genres with at least 100 rated movies, Comedy is my lowest average rated.

ABOUT YOUR RATINGS also provides you with a list of movies that you dislike the most when compared to the average rating. These are my candidates for Razzies (the awards for the worst movies presented the day before the Oscars):

  • Requiem for a Dream (2000)
  • Dancer in the Dark (2000)
  • The Browning Version (1951)
  • Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992)
  • There Will be Blood (2007)
  • The Other Side of the Mountain (2001)
  • The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
  • How Green was my Valley (1941)

My unusual likes (or guilty pleasures) when compared to the average rating are:

  • Saturday Night Fever (1977)
  • The Karate Kid (1984)
  • Titanic (1997)
  • Pretty Woman (1990)
  • Ghost (1990)
  • Notting Hill (1999)
  • Somethings Gotta Give (2003)
  • A League of their Own (1992)

Now you know a lot about my taste in movies. Start rating movies in Movielens and you can discover a great deal about your taste in movies as well.

In the age of Big Data it is refreshing to find an organization with the transparency of Movielens.

 

To Every Movie, There is a Season

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines season as a division of the year marked by changes in weather, ecology, and hours of daylight. There are movie seasons as well. While movie seasons are somewhat related to the traditional seasons, movie seasons are marked by school vacations, holidays, and the timing of the Academy Awards.

Dump Season 1.

To qualify for an Academy Award nomination for a given year, a movie must be shown in a Los Angeles County theater for at least seven consecutive days before the end of the calendar year. Any movie with an expectation of critical success meets this deadline to be eligible for award consideration. The movies that are released in January and February typically are those movies that are contractually obligated to be released but aren’t award worthy. They are dumped in these two months because fewer people go to the movies during this period.

Blockbuster Season.

From March through July, as Spring arrives and moves into Summer, the box office heats up. School vacations, Memorial Day, and Independence Day draw families and young moviegoers to the theaters. Big budget blockbusters and family friendly movies are targeted for these months.

Dump Season 2.

In August and September as tuition bills come due and kids go back to school, there is a box office lull in the movie calendar. This season is reserved for second tier blockbusters and “close but not quite” Oscar wannebes. It is sort of like a dump season lite. These aren’t terrible movies. They’re just not good enough for Blockbuster or Oscar season.

Oscar Season.

This season is for those movies with award pedigree. This is the season that adults go to the movies without their kids. The exception to this is for movies released around Thanksgiving and some of the movies released around Christmas. Reliable franchise movies, like the Hunger Games or Harry Potter franchises, release movies targeted at families around these holidays..

This is the conventional wisdom. Does the data support it?  In a later post I’ll incorporate Box Office data into a deeper look at the movie calendar. For now I’m focusing on movie quality indicators. From my database, I looked at three data points, IMDB Avg. Score for voters 45+ in age, Rotten Tomatoes Certified Fresh, and movies I “really liked”.

Release Months Industry Conventional Wisdom # of Movies Avg. IMDB Age 45+ % Certified Fresh %  I “Really Liked”
Jan-Feb Dump Months 1 153 7.2 30.1% 45.1%
Mar-Jul Blockbuster Months 726 7.3 44.8% 46.3%
Aug-Sep Dump Months 2 323 7.2 43.3% 44.9%
Oct-Dec Oscar Bait Months 772 7.4 49.7% 55.2%

The data generally supports the conventional wisdom. The two dump season periods are very similar with the second dump period enjoying better critical success than the first. This reflects the not quite Oscar worthy nature of the movies in the second dump season. Blockbuster season movies carry higher ratings than the dump months periods in all of the indicators. And, as you might expect, Oscar season ratings are the highest and are consistent with critically successful movie releases.

If you want to find movies that you will “really like” pay attention to the movie season it is released in. We all have our favorite season, even for movies.

***

I’ve made a change in my movies available to watch this week list. Because of slim pickings in the movies available, I’ve decided not to watch movies I haven’t seen that have less than a 50% probability that I will like them. The movies included on the list this week with less than 50% are movies that I watched over 15 years ago that I want to see again.

 

In Romance and in Movies, Guys Sometimes Get it Right

Yesterday was Mother’s Day and I suspect that many mothers spent some enjoyable time with their family this weekend taking in a movie. I know that’s what we did. How can you miss with the perfect chick flick opening this past weekend, Captain America: Civil War. The movie was great by the way. Now that Mother’s Day is in the rear view mirror, you might be looking ahead to Father’s Day and wondering what would be the perfect movie experience for the Dads out there. As you might expect, I have the perfect recommendation, the Before Sunrise trilogy starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Whaaat??? WHAAAT???

The three movies, Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight are romantic dramas and were directed by Richard Linklater. You might recall Linklater directed the innovative 2014 Oscar nominee, Boyhood, which he filmed over a twelve year period using the same actors. This idea of real time filming though was no doubt borrowed from the trilogy, which was filmed over 18 years at 9 year intervals. Each movie is a peek at the state of the relationship and the lives of the two protagonists at the 9 year intervals, beginning with the meet in the 1995 Before Sunrise through the messiness of marriage in the 2013 Before Midnight.

Typically, movies about the relationship between a man and a woman are targeted at women. Linklater has been able to craft a series of romantic dramas that appeal to men as well. In fact, male IMDB voters have rated each of the movies in the trilogy higher than female voters have.

 

MOVIE MALE FEMALE ROTTEN TOMATOES
Before Sunrise 8.1 8.0 Certified Fresh 100%
Before Sunset 8.1 7.9 Certified Fresh 95%
Before Midnight 8.0 7.8 Certified Fresh 98%
Total IMDB Average 8.1 7.9

Additionally, the male dominated critics of Rotten Tomatoes have scored each of the three movies very high.

Why this series of movies has had such strong male appeal isn’t clear. Speaking personally, I remember watching Before Sunrise in 2004. Before Sunset had just been released to rave reviews and I was intrigued enough by it to seek out the prequel. I loved the movie. It was so unique and genuine. For one hour and forty minutes, from the time Jesse and Celine meet as strangers on the train until Celine gets back on the train at sunrise, Jesse and Celine have a conversation as they wander the streets of Vienna. There are no dramatic events invented to put their new love in peril. There is no neat resolution at the end with the lovers living happily ever after. Instead, you experience the spark of attraction and the “getting to know you” conversation. In the end, you get the “I’ll call you” conversation without any resolution as to whether they ever will see each other again. At the end of the movie, I remember feeling that I had just watched a movie that got it right. This is how relationships actually do happen.

According to Wikipedia, Before Sunrise was based on an actual experience Richard Linklater had while traveling by train from New York to Austin, TX. He met a young woman, Amy Lehrhaupt, on the train and they spent a day together in Philadelphia. Apparently, their paths never crossed again. In 2010, 15 years after the release of Before Sunrise, Linklater learned that Amy had died in a motorcycle accident shortly before the release of the movie she had helped inspire.

Richard Linklater understands that romance isn’t always wrapped up in a bow. When it comes to movies and romance, he is a guy who gets it right.

 

 

Chick Flicks Can Be Found in the Most Unusual Places

Captain America: Civil War opens tomorrow in the United States. It is expected to have a huge box office weekend and beyond. The indicators are all in place. It opened last weekend internationally to an $80,000,000 gross in ticket sales. It is already #86 on the IMDB Top 250 with an 8.5 rating. And, Rotten Tomatoes has it at 93% Certified Fresh. And, women everywhere will be dragging along their significant other to witness the epic battle of superhero vs. superhero. Whaaaat??? Women???

One of the best kept secrets, outside of Marvel Studios, is the widespread appeal that the Marvel Universe has for women. Here are the IMDB ratings for the previous movies with Captain America: Civil War characters in them:

MOVIE MALE FEMALE
Captain America: The Winter Soldier 7.7 7.9
Captain America: The First Avenger 6.8 7.1
Avengers: Age of Ultron 7.4 7.7
The Avengers 8.1 8.3
Iron Man 3 7.2 7.7
Iron Man 2 7.0 7.3
Iron Man 7.9 7.9
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 6.7 7.2
The Amazing Spider-Man 7.0 7.4
Total IMDB Average 7.3 7.6

While technically, the Amazing Spider-Man movies were not part of the Marvel Universe, Spider-Man is a Marvel character whose rights have been restored Marvel with his appearance in this film.

The male to female splits in the IMDB ratings are comparable to Romantic Comedy splits. For some perspective, When Harry Met Sally has 7.6/7.7 split. The Princess Bride has an 81/82 split. The average of theses 9 Captain America: Civil War related movies is a 7.3/7.6 split, with 8 out of 9 being favored by women.

Other Marvel Universe movies reflect similar splits:

MOVIE MALE FEMALE
X-Men: First Class 7.7 7.9
X-Men: Days of Future Past 8.0 8.2
Thor: The Dark World 7.0 7.5
Thor 7.0 7.4
Deadpool 8.2 8.3
Guardians of the Galaxy 8.0 8.1
Fantastic Four 4.3 4.7
Total IMDB Average 7.2 7.4

I don’t know how to explain it but the consistent results don’t lie, women are quite at home in the Marvel Universe. Perhaps it is the humor that permeates the narratives. Perhaps it is focus on character development that pays as much attention to the human character as the super character. Whatever it is, it may be the critical difference between the success of Marvel movies in contrast to DC Comics movies, the splits on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice , for example, are 7.1 for Males and 6.9 for Females.

So, Ladies, enjoy Captain America: Civil War this weekend. Don’t be surprised, however, if your significant other would rather stay home and watch When Harry Met Sally.

***

After completing this post, I discovered that I had forgotten to include Ant-Man as one of the movies whose character appears in Captain America: Civil War. The splits in the IMDB ratings for Ant-Man are 7.3 Male and 7.5 Female. It’s uncanny.

When the Facts Get in the Way of a Good Story

Friday night is movie night for my wife, Pam, and I. One of the neat features Netflix provides is the capability to add separate profiles to your account for up to five members of the family. This has allowed Pam to input her own ratings of movies which produce her own Netflix recommendations based on her taste in movies. So, on Friday nights we seek out movies that are recommended for both of us and settle in for an enjoyable movie night.

On a recent Friday night we watched McFarland USA from the Disney Studios. It is the kind of movie we both enjoy. Netflix would probably group it in the “inspirational coach of underdog kids sports movies based on a true story” group. We both loved the movie. Pam gave it five stars and I gave it a nine out of ten, which if you read my last post converts to a rating of five stars on Netflix.

As a general practice, I don’t read critics reviews of a movie until after I see the movie. For McFarland USA, the critics review at the top of the IMDB list of external reviews referenced a website I had never visited before, historyvshollywood.com. It’s a niche movie website that specializes in fact checking movies based on a true story. When I read the History vs. Hollywood fact check of McFarland USA, I discovered that a critical chunk of the McFarland USA story was a fabrication. Frankly, I felt cheated. Normally I’m not bothered by moviemakers taking some story-tellers license when making a movie based on a true story, some adjusting of the timeline, or adding a fictitious character to better tell the essential story. In those instances, though, the essence of the story isn’t compromised. In the instance of McFarland USA, you end up with a 50% untrue story based on a true story. The story of the team is true but the story of the coach is 90% false.

One of the self-imposed posting rules that I intend to keep is that I won’t discuss details of a recent movie, no spoilers (Classic movies, like Saturday Night Fever, which have been around for years, however, are fair game for discussion). If you have already watched McFarland USA, or you don’t mind “spoilers”, you can link to the Hollywood vs. History fact check of the movie here.

Rather than getting into the details of the movie, I’d like to address the issue of whether the discovery of the fact that Disney engaged in blatant manipulation should be cause to go back and rerate the movie. After all, if the rating was influenced by the inspiration provided by a true story, shouldn’t the rating reflect the different view of the movie that exists when you discover the story is full of holes. The answer is an emphatic No. Predictive modeling is a science. Check your emotions at the door. The reality is that, despite the fabrications implanted in this particular movie, Pam and I still like to watch well-made “inspirational coach of underdog kids sports movies based on a true story” and we’d like to see more of them. Despite being a little less inspired after learning about the facts behind McFarland USA, it is a well-made and entertaining story and we certainly don’t want facts to get in the way of a good story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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