Archive for March, 2015

Is The Walking Dead the best cast of characters since the original Star Trek?

March 25, 2015

Is The Walking Dead the best cast of characters since the original Star Trek?

I was recently at an event with a bunch of strangers, and we were having a conversation.

Not surprisingly, I got involved in a pretty geeky one.

At one point, I made that statement: “I think The Walking Dead is the best cast of characters since the original Star Trek.”

My conversational partner said, “That’s a bold statement.”

It is.

I’ve thought about it more, and haven’t changed my mind.

Let’s start out with defining it a bit.

By “cast of characters”, I don’t mean the actors…I mean the roles they play.

Just like with ST:ToS, I feel like I know each of the characters. They are distinct, and true to themselves. If somebody acted out of character, we’d know it.

That doesn’t mean that they are wholly predictable, or that they’ve stayed the same the entire series. I didn’t even really get into the series in the beginning, because I thought Rick was cartoonishly good. Without spoilers, let’s just say there has been real character development with several of the main characters…but they’ve always still been themselves.

This really came home to me in a scene where almost no one was saying anything. Most of them were just listening…but they were still completely individuals…and interesting individuals.

Well, in challenging myself on this, I quickly came up with other shows where that was true…Seinfeld, Friends, Cheers, but they were all sitcoms.

Sitcom characters are different and almost by definition have an  exaggeration to them. That’s going to tend to make them more distinct.

If we eliminate sitcoms, I’m going to challenge you to come up with other shows with casts of characters as good as The Walking Dead or Star Trek: The Original Series. I can think of a few contenders, but I’m interested to hear what you think.

Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

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Putting my money where the movies are: April 2015

March 11, 2015

Putting my money where the movies are: April 2015

We’re still weeks away from April, but I thought I’d go ahead and show you my “investments” in

The $100 Million Box Office Challenge

That’s a new game we are playing, and you can participate! There is no charge, and there we play for that most valuable of human possessions: braggin’ rights. 😉

The March game is closed, but the April game is open.

The basic idea is that you have $100 million in imaginary money. You “invest” that in the movies, and you “win” imaginary money based on how well the movies do.

This how I’ve allocated my $100 million for April, and my reasoning:
Furious 7 (April 3)

There aren’t a lot of precedents in the modern era for a seventh movie in a series. If we keep it to this century, we have the Saw series and X-Men (and later this year, Star Wars) as two examples. In both cases, the seventh movie succeeded at the box office.

If we look at the six previous movies:

Furious

 

  • The Fast and the Furious (2001)
  • 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
  • The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
  • Fast & Furious (2009)
  • Fast Five (2011)
  • Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

they’ve been on a roll, so to speak, since 2009.

When we look at the return (which is how this game works), that’s also been doing very well:

Title Dogro ProdBud Profit Return
The Fast and the Furious (2001) 145 38 107 136%
2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) 127 76 51 249%
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) 63
Fast & Furious (2009) 155 85 70 221%
Fast Five (2011) 210 125 85 247%
Fast & Furious 6 (2013) 238 160 78 305%

I don’t have a production budget report for Tokyo Drift, which does appear to be an anomaly here.

I’d say a 200% return may be a safe bet, given also that this movie may be boosted by the fan reaction to the loss of Paul Walker (who does appear in this movie, with the actor’s brothers having helped out with some appearances…the fans may appreciate that).

The production budget (prodbud) is also likely to be high here, and  none of the movies have profited (dogro…domestic gross vs. prodbud…production budget) $100m.

I’m going with $20 million on this one, although that may be a risk.

The Longest Ride (April 10)

Sorry, director George Tillman, Jr., and Scott Eastwood, Melissa Benoist, and all the others…this is going to be judged as a Nicholas Sparks movie.

The Notebook, now more than a decade ago, has had a lot more pop cultural influence than it did box office…although the latter was certainly fine.

On a prodbud of $29m, it dogroed $81…a 280% return. Not enough to be Golden in our scale, but still good. However, last year’s The Best of Me barely beat the prodbud.

Safe Haven in 2013 was closer to The Notebook: $71m dogro on a $28m prodbud…254%.

I’m not comfortable with this one…I’m going to pass on “investing” my imaginary money.

The Moon and the Sun (April 10)

King Louis XIV…and a mermaid?

Yes, it’s based on a Vonda McIntyre novel, and it has big name stars (Pierce Brosnan, William Hurt, Bingbing Fan as the mermaid), but the latter is a negative to me in this case. I think the prodbud will have to be too high on this quirky a movie for the domestic gross (might do well later on streaming video).

I’ll pass.

Child 44 (April 17)

R-rated movies have been doing well lately. This one has Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, and Gary Oldman. Hardy and Oldman have worked together (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy), and Hardy has really been on the rise. Pace has also been in hit movies.

I’m hoping the budget is low enough on this, and Lionsgate has been pretty smart about that (look at The Hunger Games, Divergent, Now You See Me…).

I don’t think this is a blockbuster, but I’ll invest $15m.

Monkey Kingdom

A Disney nature documentary…and a Buena Vista nature documentary hasn’t broken $40m, I think. Arguably, 2012’s Chimpanzee is a decent comparison, and it did $29m on an unknown budget.

The DisneyNature movies have been trending upwards…this one might get close to $40m.

I suspect we won’t get the budget on this one either. If I invest money in this one and we don’t find out the prodbud, it’s a wash for me…no win, no loss. I might put my “leftover” money in this one for that reason, but that would likely result in a loss for me if we do get a budget. However, that seems like gaming the system…if I can find worthwhile investments for my whole $100m, I’ll do that.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (April 17)

There may not be a lot of competition in this genre when this is released. The last movie had a very nice return ($146m on a $26m prodbud…562%).

I don’t think they’ve overspent on this…yes, they are in a new location, but it’s Las Vegas, not Monte Carlo.

Let’s say that the movie costs $50m (we don’t know yet). Could it do $100m? Yeah, maybe…while it is making me antsy to do it, I’ll put $20m into this one.

Unfriended (April 17)

A low budget horror movie, it might have a big opening (these tend to be frontloaded). I’m guessing the budget is well under $20m, and that it could do something like $60m. I’m going to risk $25m on this one…I can’t see it losing money (although those could be famous last words). 😉

The Age of Adaline (April 24)

A Lionsgate movie with romantic appeal…and Harrison Ford and Blake Lively.

I think this one has an interesting premise, and may hit the right chord with a certain audience. I like that there are some older actors as well. which spreads the demographic appeal.

I’m thinking this could get to the slot on our charts between $40m and $80m…

Hoping the budget is low enough (under $50m), I’ll put in $10m.

Little Boy (April 24)

Likely to be fairly low budget and to appeal to the faith-based audience, I’m feeling pretty good about this one. It has a child star, and is a Mexican-US co-production…I think both of those are pluses.

I’m going with $10m on this…and that might be my best investment of the month.

Summary:

  • Furious 7: $20m | prodbud: $190.0m | dogro to date: $326.5m | % return: 172% |  $34.4 return to me
  • The Longest Ride: none (prodbud: $34.0m | dogro to date: $32.2m | % return: N/A% |  no investment
  • (scratch) The Moon and the Sun: none (prodbud: $ | dogro to date: $ | % return: % |  $) NOTE: this release was delayed, so no win or loss
  • Child 44: $15m (prodbud: N/A | dogro to date: $1.2m | % return: N/A% |  Looks like I’d better hope this one doesn’t get a prodbud reported!)
  • Monkey Kingdom: none (prodbud: $N/A | dogro to date: $7.8m | % return: N/A% |  no win or loss)
  • Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2: $20m (prodbud: $30.0m | dogro to date: $47.4m | % return: 158% |  $31.6 million gain to me so far)
  • Unfriended: $25m (prodbud: $1.0m | dogro to date: $27.3m | % return: 2730% |  $27.3m gain)
  • The Age of Adaline: $10m (prodbud: $ | dogro to date: $19.4 | % return: 50% |
  • Little Boy: $10m (prodbud: N/a | dogro to date: $3.4m | % return: %N/A |  No prodbud, so no win or loss for me at this point)

Think I’m way off? You can play the game at

The $100 Million Box Office Challenge

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Putting my money where the movies are: March 2015

March 5, 2015

Putting my money where the movies are: March 2015

The first widely released movies (for the USA) for March 2015 are about to hit the theatres, so I wanted to share with you my allocations in our

The $100 Million Box Office Challenge

That’s a new game we are playing, and you can participate! There is no charge, and there we play for that most valuable of human possessions: braggin’ rights. 😉

The March game is closed, but the April game is now open.

The basic idea is that you have $100 million in imaginary money. You “invest” that in the movies, and you “win” imaginary money based on how well the movies do.

This how I’ve allocated my $100 million for March (this will be updated with production budgets and dogroes, but I won’t know either when I make my “investments”), and where I am, updated on April 19, 2015:

  • Chappie $20m (prodbud: $49m | dogro to date: $31.3m | % return: 64% |  $7.2m loss to date for me)
  • Unfinished Business $5m (prodbud: $35m | dogro to date: $10.2m | % return: 29% | $3.6m loss to date for me)
  • Cinderella None (prodbud: $95m | dogro to date: $188.4m | % return: 198% | not invested)
  • Run All Night $5m (prodbud: $50m | dogro to date: $26.2m | % return: 52% | $2.4m loss to date for me)
  • Insurgent $20m (prodbud: $110m | dogro to date: $122.6m | % return: 111% | $22.2m win to date for me)
  • Do You Believe? $10m (prodbud: N/A | dogro to date: $12.4m | if the prodbud remains unknown, no win or loss for me)
  • The Gunman $10m (prodbud: $40m | dogro to date: $10.6m | % return: 27% | $7.3m loss to date for me)
  • Get Hard $15m (prodbud: $40.0m | dogro to date: $81.2 | % return: 203% | $39.5m win to date for me )
  • Home $15m (prodbud: $135m | dogro to date: $147.3m | % return: 109% | $16.4m win to date for me)

Running total: $57.6m to date

It’s important to note that I can’t get back more than the movie makes, which helps explain some of these “investments”.

For example, Get Hard is an R-rated comedy starring Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell. Hart has been on a roll lately:

Title Dogro Prod Budget Return Profit
Ride Along 135 25 540% 110
About Last Night 49 12.5 392% 36.5
Think Like a Man Too 65 24 271% 41
The Wedding Ringer 65 23 283% 42
Average 78.5 21.125 371% 57.375

So, for the past year or so, betting on Kevin Hart makes sense.

Why not invest all $100m in that one movie?

The profits haven’t been that high.

Let’s say the movie makes that average return of 371%. I’d get back $56m (rounded). That’s fine…if the movie profits that much, which is only the case in one out of the four listed above. It may turn out that I invested too much money based on that (I didn’t do the analysis above when I made my “investments”.

I don’t know what the budget is when I make the investments…we usually don’t get that until the movie is released.

I just can’t see a scenario where I would invest $100m, and I wouldn’t hit the return cap. If the production budget is $25m, and the return is 371%, it would need to make several hundreds of millions of dollars domestically for me to get the fullest return…and that’s just not going to happen.

It is worth noting that The Wedding Ringer will still make some more money.

I think people are going to think of this as a Kevin Hart movie, because he has been so hot at the box office (and that hasn’t depended on the co-star). Still, looking at Will Ferrell is also a good bet: The LEGO Movie, Ancorman 2, The Campaign…we’ll stop before we get to Casa De Mi Padre. 😉

While Chappie has some really big name and big box office stars (Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver), I think it’s going to be seen as a Neill Blomkamp movie. That makes this trickier: District 9 had a great return on a $30m budget; Elysium didn’t break even (production budget versus dogro ((domestic gross)), which is how we do this), but still did close to $100m.

I think that Blomkamp learned a lesson. It’s a super clear premise (and one that worked for Short Circuit), and has been promoted a lot. The timing feels good on the opening: if the budget is low enough, I’m pretty confident.

Unfinished Business is not one that I’m expecting to break $100m, but I think the budget is low. Dave Franco has been bringing in the bucks. I thought a small investment here might have a pretty big return, even without huge box office.

It might seem odd that I didn’t invest any money in Cinderella. I’m just not confident that they haven’t overspent on this, in terms of dogro. That doesn’t by any means mean that the movie was a mistake: it should do well internationally, and have big merchandising bucks. A Frozen short might help get people into the theatres…but I don’t think it will be enough to do, say, double the budget.

Run All Night is another one of those which I think will have a good return rate, but not great box office overall. My guess is that the budget is under $50m…and Liam Neeson is a draw.

Insurgent could do really well at the box office, and the first one wasn’t a “break the bank” budget. It should run well for quite a while, so I won’t know what my return is until…Memorial Day, and perhaps a bit past then. I invested a relatively large amount, but I think it could profit over $100m.

Do You Believe? I believe that low budgeted faith-based movies are a good investment (and high budgeted ones often aren’t). I’m guessing I could profit at least $40m on this one.

The Gunman…Sean Penn isn’t why I went with this. I think there may be some resonance with American Sniper in it, and I’m guessing the budget is quite low.

You might think Home is a sure bet, but animation isn’t, in terms of return rate (look at Penguins of Madagascar, which should have had a lot going for it). The director is not a known quantity, and I’m unconvinced that the voice cast is going to make it a must see. I suspect this one will do fine with kids, but won’t draw in the adults enough. I still invested quite a bit in it…looking at it now, I may have overdone it, but we’ll see.

Don’t agree with my assessments? It’s too late to play for this month, but don’t forget that you can play for April!

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


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