Will I "Really Like" this Movie?

Navigating Movie Website Ratings to Select More Enjoyable Movies

Is Opening Weekend at the Movie Theaters a Flip of the Coin?

Last weekend, the top five movies at the Box Office all earned Rotten grades from Rotten Tomatoes. Two of the five have managed to receive favorable scores from IMDB, while the remaining three have received very mediocre feedback from their IMDB voters. Here are the five movies:

TOP FIVE MOVIES AT THE BOX OFFICE
WEEKEND  OF 6/3 TO 6/5
Movie Box Office (000000) Rotten Tomatoes IMDB Avg. Rating
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows $35.30 36% Rotten 6.6
X-Men: Apocalypse $22.80 48% Rotten 7.5
Me Before You $18.70 56% Rotten 8.1
Alice Through the Looking Glass $11.30 29% Rotten 6.4
The Angry Birds Movie $10.20 43% Rotten 6.4

These results beg the question, should we ever go to the movies when a movie first comes out? Without the benefit of the feedback from actual moviegoers, our potential enjoyment of a movie during its early run in the theaters might be no better than the flip of a coin. Three of the five movies were released Memorial Day weekend and their numbers are down significantly from their strong numbers the first weekend, possibly the influence of their adverse Rotten Tomatoes grades. All of the movies have a built in audience because they are sequels, or, in the case of Me Before You, they read the book, or, in the case of The Angry Birds Movie, they play the phone app. Despite an audience that is predisposed to like each movie, only in the instances of X-Men: Apocalypse and Me Before You has the audience actually liked the movie, as evidenced by the IMDB ratings. Moviegoers spent $98.3 million last weekend expecting to be entertained by these five movies. Those who saw the TMNT movie, or Angry Birds, or the latest adventure of Alice, were a little disappointed. There has to be a better way.

I don’t know if it’s possible to improve the odds of selecting “really like” movies when they are first released. My efforts to forecast “really like” movies beginning in June will at least test whether I can do it. You may have noticed that I’ve made a notation  in my June forecast that my forecast for Me Before You is final. In order to truly test the ability to project a movie before its opening weekend, all forecast adjustments have to be finalized before it opens in the theaters.  After four to six months, I plan to go back and compare how the actual “really like” probabilities developed against what I projected. After all, a forecast doesn’t have much credibility unless you keep score and demonstrate a track record of success.

I’ve been to movies on opening weekend where I felt pretty confident that I would “really like” the movie,  Captain America: Civil War for example. In that instance there was a significant amount of data out there from its International run the week before the U.S. opening. For most other movies the data will be less robust requiring more creativity.

I’d like to think I can do better than the flip of a coin.

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