Will I "Really Like" this Movie?

Navigating Movie Website Ratings to Select More Enjoyable Movies

Archive for the tag “Cinemascore”

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.

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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.

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.

Cinemascore Is For Opening Weekend, but Beware of Grade Inflation

We have just endured another Presidential Primary season where every tea leaf was micro-analyzed and every phrase parsed to death. One of the primary tools of the political pundits is the exit poll. In key districts across the primary State, pollsters await voters as they exit the polling place to determine who the voters were pinning their hopes on to lead the free world at that very moment and why. The exit poll fills our insatiable desire for instant feedback for what we’re collectively thinking.

The movie industry has its own version of the exit poll, Cinemascore. In the pre-IMDB days of 1978, the movie industry had the same concerns with critics that they have with Rotten Tomatoes today. The industry felt critics had too much influence with the viewing public. Cinemascore filled this perceived need to balance the sway of critics by measuring the opening night reaction to a movie from moviegoers who were walking out of the theater. Like political exit polls, the theaters polled in the survey were specifically selected to provide a cross section, regionally and demographically, of the viewing public in the U.S. and Canada. Participants in the survey answer six questions about the movie they’ve just watched including the assignment of a grade from A to F.

By going to the website linked above you can view the average grade from the surveys given to recent major movie releases. You can also type in a movie title released after 1978 to see that movie’s average grade. With a paid subscription you can enter the website and presumably access results from the other five questions surveyed. Not all movies are surveyed, only those considered major releases.

How useful are these grades? Well, if you absolutely can’t wait to see a movie, but you can hold off until Saturday night, they can be quite useful. The survey sample is representative of moviegoers like you. I would expect that most attendees of an opening night movie have a high degree of interest in the movie, just like you. On the other hand, if your decision to attend an opening weekend movie is more casually made, Cinemascore could be deceiving.

The 24 recent movie releases currently displayed on the Cinemascore Home Page are ranked below by grade with the accompanying IMDB rating results:

Cinemascore
Recent Movie Results
Movie Cinemascore # IMDB Votes IMDB Avg. Rating
ME BEFORE YOU A                6,217 7.9
CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR A            229,127 8.3
GOD’S NOT DEAD 2 A                3,809 3.3
JUNGLE BOOK, THE A              84,945 7.8
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS A-                8,013 6.5
X-MEN: APOCALYPSE A-            102,507 7.4
ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS A-              12,479 6.4
CONJURING 2, THE A-                7,238 8.4
NOW YOU SEE ME 2 A-                3,696 7.2
BARBERSHOP: THE NEXT CUT A-                2,099 6.1
MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2 A-                8,083 6.2
ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE, THE B+              13,128 6.4
WARCRAFT B+              45,628 7.8
HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR, THE B+              23,522 6.2
MONEY MONSTER B+              11,349 6.8
MOTHER’S DAY B+                3,643 5.4
BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE B            299,641 7.0
KEANU B                7,507 6.6
NEIGHBORS 2: SORORITY RISING B              16,437 6.1
POPSTAR: NEVER STOP NEVER STOPPING B                2,815 7.4
RATCHET AND CLANK B                1,778 6.1
CRIMINAL B-                5,452 6.4
NICE GUYS, THE B-              23,900 7.8
DARKNESS, THE C                1,901 4.1

If an IMDB rating of 7.3 or higher is considered an above average rating, then only a Cinemascore of A is solidly reinforced by the IMDB average ratings. Of the 7 movies  receiving an A- grade only X-Men: Apocalypse and The Conjuring 2 were considered above average by IMDB voters. A Cinemascore of A- may not translate favorably when the more general audience begins to view the film. If on the other hand, you are really into Christian movies and you were really looking forward to God’s Not Dead 2, Cinemascore is going to be a better indicator of the quality of the movie than IMDB, whose voters may not be representative of your taste in movies.

Cinemascore was created before we had sites like IMDB. It still has its use for “must see” opening weekend moviegoers and movies for unique tastes. Once you get past opening weekend, however, IMDB is probably a better tool for word of mouth feedback.

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6/17/2016

I’ve entered my final estimate for Finding Dory this morning. The early indicators are that this will be a critical and box office success. I’ve forecasted it will be a “really like” of 85%.

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