Fantasy sports is a billion-dollar industry. It’s all the rage. Even your grandmother plays fantasy football. But here’s the thing, fantasy doesn’t have to be limited to sports. In fact, it shouldn’t be limited to sports. What if you could build a fantasy roster of your favorite movies and win bragging rights about your movie prowess?
In recent years, Fantasy Movie League, popularized by non-other than ESPN’s Matthew Berry, the Talented Mr. Roto, gained some attention for expanding the fantasy format to movies. And we here at OnScreen are fans of Fantasy Movie League, lest there be any confusion.
But what if I told you that a fantasy movie league had been around since 2008, that involved predicting how well reviewed a movie was going to be in conjunction with its box office potential? What if I told you that rather than be based on the daily fantasy format of Draft Kings or the weekly format of Fantasy Movie League, there was a league based on the season-long format just like good old fantasy football? What if I told you that this league involved more strategy, and trash talking than any other fantasy league out there? Would you be interested?
Such a fantasy movie league exists, and we at OnScreen have been doing it for the last 10 years. It is the most enjoyable fantasy league we have been apart of over that time. We decided it’s time to share the fun with everyone; it’s time to get movie lovers everywhere to play our version of fantasy movies, called Fantasy Box Office.
Here’s how it works:
1) The season starts with an auction draft ahead of your agreed timeframe when movies are to be released. For example, we have two distinct timeframes: from March 1st-August 31st, and then from Sept 21st-January 31st. You can pick whatever timeframe best suits you; just make sure to have your auction draft about 2 weeks before the first weekend of movies.
2) Each contestant can hold up to 6 movies for the Fall season, and your auction budget is $60 per person. ($70 for the Summer season and up to 7 movies).
3) Scoring: Revenue is based on the box office numbers a movie makes multiplied by the Rotten Tomatoes T-meter percentage; the higher the rotten tomatoes score, the more of the revenue you get to keep. For example, Ocean’s 8 generated $140 in domestic box office, and with a 68% Rotten Tomatoes score, your total box office revenue is .68 * 140 = $95 million.
a. For competitive balance, revenues are capped at $200 million in the fall ($250 in the summer).
b. Any dollar a movie earns within the predetermined window counts, whether in limited release, wide release, or re-release.
4) Once you draft your movies, you may add movies to your roster at any point during the season, except a) your roster is capped at the number of movies you select in the auction draft and b) you must allow players in your league to bid on the movie you want to bid on. Should they choose to bid (must be within 24 hours), you then enter into a silent auction, with the highest bid winning the movie. The winning bid is then subtracted from their box office total.
a. You may choose to keep leftover auction money from the draft to use towards add/drops. Every $1 translates into $1 million you can use in your add/drop silent auction bid, and does not subtract from your box office total.
b. You cannot add a movie that has already been released, even if in even a single theatre.
c. You cannot drop a movie that has already been released, even if in a single theatre.
5) And that’s it! Hit refresh on your movie’s rotten tomato page approximately 10,000 times waiting for first reviews, trash talk your friends whose movie gets a 20% rotten T-meter, and gloat about your mastery of movies when it’s all said and done. Its Fantasy Box Office. Easy enough, right?
Before we detail the results of OnScreen’s Fantasy Box Office League for Fall 2018, let’s talk some broad strokes of strategy:
1) As you might be able to surmise, just picking big franchise movies that are a surefire bet to gross $200 million in box office is not the safest play. What if the movie bombs with the critics? It’s about both the quality of the movie and its box office potential; you must have both to win the league. Watch the trailers, study what other movies are being released around it, and take notice how its being marketed.
2) Smaller movies who get a high Rotten Tomato score have significant value. You’d rather have a movie that gets 90% rotten tomato score and does $60 million box office than a $150 million movie that does 30%.
3) Pay attention to who’s directing the movie, who’s starring in it, who’s producing. All three matter to a movie’s success.
4) What movies are releasing on the same weekend? What movies follow or precede it? Could they negatively (or positively) impact the box office?
Basically, if you know your movies, and you know some Hollywood marketing principles, you’re sure to have a blast with this league.
Now, let’s get down to it. The latest OnScreen Fantasy Box Office auction draft featured 5 contestants, with three OnScreen Contributors (Ken Jones, Greg Ehrhardt, and OnStage Blog EIC Chris Peterson), as well as two friends of OnScreen, Tim and Paula.
We recommend playing with anywhere from 4-7 players per league. We find 6 to be the sweet spot.
The fall season the window for eligible movies runs from September 21st through January 31st, which is the last earning day. Below is a recap of the auction and then our rosters, with the name next to the movie is who won the bid:
1. Venom – Paula ($6)
2. Creed 2 – Tim ($13)
3. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald – Greg ($22)
4. Ralph Breaks the Internet – Tim ($34)
5. Mary Poppins Returns – Ken ($20)
6. Aquaman – Paula ($21)
7. Bumblebee – Chris ($7)
8. Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse – Paula ($8)
9. Halloween – Chris ($25)
10. A Star Is Born – Greg ($25)
11. First Man – Greg ($10)
12. Mortal Engines – Chris ($4)
13. Glass – Paula ($10)
14. Smallfoot – Chris ($8)
15. The Grinch – Ken ($13)
16. Hellboy – Paula ($10)
17. Alita: Battle Angel – Chris ($6)
18. Holmes & Watson – Tim ($6)
19. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms – Ken ($11)
20. Bohemian Rhapsody – Ken ($11)
21. Night School – Chris ($8)
22. The House with the Clock in the Walls – Ken ($2)
23. Widows – Ken ($3)
24. The Frontrunner – Tim ($1)
25. Vice – Tim ($3)
26. Serenity – Tim ($3)
27. On the Basis of Sex – Greg ($1)
28. Roma – Greg ($1)
29. Instant Family - Greg ($1)
$20 Mary Poppins Returns – 12/21
$13 The Grinch – 11/9
$11 The Nutcracker and the Four Realms – 11/2
$11 Bohemian Rhapsody – 11/2
$2 The House with the Clock in the Walls – 9/21
$3 Widows - 11/16
Ken: I love my roster. The slate looks a little bleak compared to previous years. I’m not sure how many movies, if any, will hit the $200 million cap, so I went with a bunch of movies I thought could perform solidly.
Greg: I’m a little skeptical about Mary Poppins Returns. Do kids really care about her? Do adults care? Lin-Manuel Miranda being here is a wild card, and could be a unique draw for the Moana fans, but he didn’t write the music, so I tend to think he will be less of a box office factor. I think this was a solid roster, particularly getting The Grinch at $13, there’s nothing but upside there.
$13 Creed 2 – 11/23
$34 Ralph Breaks the Internet – 11/23
$6 Holmes & Watson – 12/21
$1 The Frontrunner – 11/9
$3 Vice – 12/21
$3 Serenity – 10/19
Ken: Tim has a few movies that are vying for shared weekend real estate. Ralph should come close to capping unless the reviews hold it back. Creed 2 doesn’t have Coogler behind the camera, but it should still do strong business. Holmes & Watson is Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly reuniting for a comedy (Can’t wait!). I’m not sure about the audience for the last three. They all could be awards contenders, but without much broad appeal. Tim must be hoping one of them pops.
Greg: If Holmes and Watson bombs critically, Tim could be in trouble. Wreck it Ralph was the surest bet of the season, and worthy of the $34 bid, but that’s about all he has. Creed 2 feels like an unnecessary grab at member berries for a first movie that did great critically, so I’m a little skeptical of its box office prospects, especially considering the first one did fine, but not spectacularly ($110 Million Domestic).
$6 Venom – 10/5
$21 Aquaman – 12/21
$13 Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse – 12/14
$10 Glass – 1/18
$10 Hellboy – 1/11
Ken: Paula somehow ended up with a roster full of superheroes movies. I have to say, I love it, even if I don’t love all of the movies. It’s a bold move and in a season where the pickings are slim, bold could win it for you.
Greg: I wasn’t touching Venom with a 10 foot pole: I just can’t imagine this movie to be a crowd pleaser. That said, getting it for $6, where other potential tentpole movies go north of $15 is a great value pick. I also had no idea what to do with Spiderman. A box office total of $60 or $200 million wouldn’t surprise me. This was a huge stay away for me unless I could get it for less than $5.
$22 Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald – 11/16
$25 A Star Is Born – 10/5
$10 First Man – 10/12
$1 On the Basis of Sex – 12/28
$1 Roma – 12/14
$1 Instant Family – 11/16
Ken: I love Greg’s first three picks; I am less enthused for his last three picks. Fantastic Beasts is one of the most likely film to cap, depending on the reviews. A Star Is Born has a lot of great word of mouth and is looking to be a hit. First Man has garnered a lot of attention and controversy. It will be interesting to see what impact that has on its box office numbers.
Greg: My general strategy in the fall is to load up on 2-3 mega movies and fill out with potential best picture movies, in the hope that one of the best picture movies catches on in January. I have pretty high hopes about On The Basis of Sex, which is I think the 9th movie about Ruth Bader Ginsburg to come out in 2018? Instant Family was a flyer, which I like to take with comedies, but it’s a spot I have some flexibility with as add/drop looms.
$6 Bumblebee – 12/21
$25 Halloween – 10/19
$4 Mortal Engines – 12/14
$8 Smallfoot – 9/28
$6 Alita: Battle Angel – 12/21
$8 Night School – 9/28
Ken: Halloween should be his biggest earner, and it has great reviews, but can it make as much as It last year or will it do more modest business? Mortal Engines looks like a bit of a mess. Personally, I don’t think you can go wrong in getting an animated film, so Smallfoot should be fine. As for Alita: Battle Angel and Night School, wait and see, though Night School doesn’t look promising.
Greg: The Transformers franchise is the ultimate test of this scoring methodology. Is the potential box office worth the massive risk in critics probably savaging it? As someone who has had multiple Transformer movies over the years, I can unequivocally say, NO, it’s not worth it!!!! Needless to say, I don’t like this roster, and, despite the great reviews Halloween has, getting it for $25 is basically priced for perfection.
Greg: The Grinch for $13, On The Basis of Sex, $1
I still think Kevin Hart has box office value, and we all know what a future star Tiffany Haddish is. I wish this dropped in the Summer.
Ken: My entire roster? Smallfoot at $8? I guess Venom for $6. Nah, just my entire roster.
Greg: Hellboy: $10. I’m not sure I would have dropped $10 for the very first Hellboy, never mind whatever remake this is going to be.
Ken: Paula spending a combined $20 on two movies that get less than a month of revenue, Glass and Hellboy. Probably Aquaman at $21 too, because DC. Bumblebee for $6. Just set your money on fire if you’re investing in Transformers.
Best Moment of the Draft:
Greg: Ken and I were slowly bidding for Halloween, dollar by dollar, when it occurred to me no one else had seen the great reviews except the two of us. This was a movie I would have been happy to have under $18, but anything above would have made me a touch bit nervous (I thought A Star Is Born was a safer bet to last a while in theatres). So I made the strategic decision to mention while I was bidding what incredible reviews Halloween got. This successfully roped in Peterson, who we could hear frantically clicking on Rotten Tomatoes, and he quickly shot the bidding up to $25. At that point, I was happy to drop out. I didn’t want Ken to get this movie for around $20. Maybe Ken drops out of the bidding himself around $20, but I couldn’t risk it. I might regret it, but I pat myself on the back for the effort.
Ken: My favorite part was the realization halfway through that Paula had three superhero-based titles and we (or maybe just I) started egging her on and encouraging her to embrace it and fill her roster with superheroes.
We at OnScreen are sharing this because we love movies and we love fantasy leagues. We are not looking to trademark this, nor are we looking to even commercialize the prospect. The world is a better place with friends dissecting the 3rd trailer of an August limited release hunting for a sleeper, at least we think so. Now go forth and bid $20 for Bumblebee, your future bragging rights demand it.