I like fantasy baseball in theory. I love drafting my team, reading the prognostications and listening to the podcasts that cover the game. Somewhere around July, especially if you’re in a rotisserie-style league, the grind wears on me and I start to lose interest. There has to be a better summer time-wasting activity than watching my closers lose their jobs and seeing my entire outfield perpetually on the DL.
Our esteemed editor emailed me the other day asking if I’d be interested in playing in a summer fantasy movie league inspired by the NSFW Show‘s version of the game. Within an hour, I had the document cointaining the draft pool and the rules drawn up. This is what I’ve been craving to get me through to next fantasy football season.
I’ve experimented with things like this before, organizing an ill-fated but mentally stimulating fantasy rock music league with some of my friends. I’ve played every “run your own movie studio” themed video game that’s ever been made. I watched all of “Entourage.” I know, I’m not proud of it either.
Fantasy summer movies are fun, simple, and inclusive. If someone nails the technology side of things and offers this as a web or mobile application, it could be the next big thing. Until then, we’re like roto baseball players in the 1980s, combing through newspapers and hand-writing our league’s story.
Here’s how we’ve set up our league, and why you should go do this immediately.
Find a handful of friends
Organizing a new fantasy league, especially a baseball or hoops league, can be challenging. People who really like baseball might not care for fantasy. Leagues with less than 10 people are near-pointless. It’s hard to find that many people who will actually keep up with their teams who don’t give you the creeps. There are six of us in the BSR league, with five movies a piece and 13 movies in the free agent pool. Use those numbers and find people accordingly. This is also a nice time to get those people who aren’t as big into sports involved in something competitive.
Create the draft pool
Or just use ours. The eligible movies we picked from are all nationwide releases coming out between May 1st and August 31st. Our “season” runs until the end of September in order to give the late summer movies an equal chance. You could start earlier to account for the blockbusters that are coming out in early spring like “The Hunger Games.” Want to include more indies in there? Want to eliminate all the kids movies? It’s your call.
Define your rules
Everyone plays FSM a little differently. The important things are that a) everyone understands your rules and b) you have a unified source for data. Some leagues only worry about how much money a film makes, while others account for taste as well. Our league runs on RottenTomatoes.com and uses a simple equation of U.S. box office averaged against the Rotten Tomatoes score. To get the U.S. box office figures on a scale of 100 like the Tomatometer, we simply take how much money the movie made, divide that by $760,500,000 (how much “Avatar,” the highest-grossing film of all time made) and multiply by 100. For example:
“The Dark Knight” makes $533.3 million and gets a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. So, ($533.3/$760.5)*100 = 70. We take the box office score of 70 and average it against the 94 on Rotten Tomatoes and we get an 82 as Dark Knight’s total score.
Don’t worry, if math intimidates you, just use our spreadsheet and it will fill everything in for you. Take the five scores of all your movies at the end of the summer and whoever has the highest wins.
Have a draft
You can listen to our draft on the special edition of the BSR podcast to see how it went down. For sake of ease, we went with the traditional “snake” draft where teams picked in order for the first round and reverse order for the second, and so on. Many like the auction format of nominating movies and bidding on them with fake money, where each player gets a budget of say $200 to spend on x amount of films. Like any fantasy league, the draft is probably the most fun part, so make it a memorable experience. “Research” is fun because it involves watching a bunch of trailers and combing through Rotten Tomatoes to look back on how other films have done. No advanced sabremetrics needed.
Customize your league
There are countless ways you can play this game. We took what others had done and shifted things around to fit our tastes. You can make your “season” go longer. You can make it a “keeper” league where drafting a film also gives you rights to the sequel in two years. You could have trades (which we do) and free agent pickups (us as well). There are limitless ways to make this fun, and unlike fantasy baseball you can actually impact (however slightly) how your team does by going out and seeing your films.
How to win
Under our model, critical and commercial success is equally weighted, so there are a few different ways to get to the watering hole. You’ll have to listen in to the podcast or check back with us in May to see who everyone picked and where, but a couple of strategies did emerge that will be interesting to watch how they pan out. Zach Griffin seems to have gone for almost all big money movies that have a danger of being critically panned. Our fearless leader Sadler used his number one overall pick to take a no-brainer sequel, then followed up with some smaller movies that should do well with critics. It’s a great summer to start this, and you still have a month before “The Avengers” premiers, so what are you waiting for?