Will I "Really Like" this Movie?

Navigating Movie Website Ratings to Select More Enjoyable Movies

Archive for the tag “The Big Sick”

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.

 

 

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!

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