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December, 2017

New Releases

We are in the home stretch of 2017 and this weekend we see the release of the latest chapter in the Star Wars saga, which could be the biggest release of the entire year and add to the record-breaking track record of the franchise. The only other new release this week is Ferdinand an animated family title from Fox, which appears to be a problematic and confused release, but does feature an objectively adora-bull titular character.
Editor’s Note: This post is part of an ongoing series where each week we look at the new movies being released and the predictions made by FLIQ. Questions and suggestions welcome at @FliqAI.

This weekend promises to be a huge one at the box office, led of course by Star Wars which is slated to basically block out the sun. We are expecting it to earn twice as much money by itself this weekend than every other movie did last weekend combined. Seasonally, with three weeks to go, this is the point in the year where the movie-going audience picks up substantially. With little competition in sight, and the conditions right Star Wars: The Last Jedi is legitimately gunning for the number one opening weekend of all time – a title currently held by Star Wars: The Force Awakens released two years ago, almost to the day.

Ferdinand has a decidedly tougher row to hoe. It is a title which has been repeatedly pushed back and rescheduled (never a good sign) and it is competing in-genre with the excellent Coco which is currently in its third straight week at the top of the charts. It may be lining up to sort of draft behind Star Wars: The Last Jedi and pick up on the movie-going audience, but Fox sort of tried this before when the Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out releasing Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip at the same time and that was a pretty big failure.

FLIQ Predictions

Data by FLIQ.AI

FLIQ likes The Last Jedi quite a bit, but it does not appear likely that it will break the $250M opening weekend record set by the previous release. There are a number of driving factors here, all of which generally point back to the inescapable gravity of iterative sequels underperforming prior releases. For example, the views for the Wikipedia page for The Last Jedi for yesterday are 270K. Looking at The Force Awakens, on Tuesday before it’s release, it was at 480K. That’s one data point but the rest of the audience interest data like trainer views, google search, etc. tracks accordingly.

The other element of risk according to our models is writer/director Rian Johnson. FLIQ specifically focuses on the last three years of history for the key players in a production, and in the last three years, Johnson just doesn’t have much of a track record so FLIQ doesn’t know what to make of him. His previous writing/directing feature was Looper back in 2012, around the same time he directed three outstanding Breaking Bad episodes.

When it comes to Ferdinand FLIQ thinks it’s basically, “OK”, which may be overstating things. The audience engagement and intent measures for Ferdinand are quite low, but this is counterbalanced by a sizable budget, big release with Fox behind it and Kate McKinnon being involved.

Forecasts Roundup

Every week we will compare the FLIQ forecast to others made by BoxOfficeMojo, Pro.BoxOffice and We will also be making a weekly prediction setting up a fun Men vs Machine experiment. As we go forward, it will be interesting to reflect on and understand which types of predictions are better, where and how. 

Looking at the other forecasts we see that FLIQs is tracking well directionally, the consensus is that Star Wars has a fantastic opening though less than the 2015 Force Awakens, and that Ferdinand will underperform. In both cases it could be that FLIQ is either being too conservative, or showing good restraint. This will be an interesting result to review next week!

Data by FLIQ.AI

Check out the detailed forecasts from the other guys below, the Star Wars analysis from Box Office Mojo is particularly insightful this week:

Box Office Prophets Weekly Forecast 12/14

When forecasting the opening weekend for Star Wars: The Force Awakens back in 2015 it was a rather monumental task as no film had ever opened over $100 million in December let alone over $200 million. Not to mention anticipation was at a fever pitch as Force Awakens marked the first new live-action installment in the iconic franchise in ten years with the marketing might of Disney behind it. Now comes time to forecast the latest installment in the Skywalker Saga, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and while the factors going into forecasting the sequel aren’t nearly as numerous, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a walk in the park.

Pro.BoxOffice Weekend Forecast 12/14

In terms of tracking, Last Jedi has shown interest and awareness levels between those of Rogue One and The Force Awakens, further reinforcing our long range forecasts from months prior. On the social media front, Twitter activity has trailed that of the latter title by a significant margin, while also coming in just behind last year’s anthology film. That being said, Last Jedi has generated about 165 percent more relevant Twitter mentions than Jurassic World did in the comparable week-of-release window.

Fox will be playing the long game with this animated title [Ferdinand] as the Christmas and New Year’s corridor should be very lucrative for the last animated release of the year, with only Coco serving as direct competition for families with young kids. The counter-programming strategy this weekend is aimed to reel in those parents with children for whom The Last Jedi may be too intense.

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