As the Premier League season wound down and the glory of your NFL Fantasy Football performance from December faded, I took a leap to fill the gap left behind this Summer with a Fantasy Movie League. The old mantra that "If you build it, he will come" from Field of Dreams has long been replaced with "If you rank it, he will make it into a fantasy sport" and praise be the lord that it is so!
Few fans of NFL Fantasy Football will be surprised to hear that the Talented Mr. Roto himself, ESPN's Senior Fantasy Analyst (and former Hollywood Script Writer) Matthew Berry is a driving force behind this relatively new fantasy "sport" too. And it shows. Fantasy Movie League brings out the usual comeptiveness and indeed downright madness of every other fantasy sport that we've grown to know and love. Above all else, it's terribly good fun and as we know, that's something that often gets lost in the heat of the fantasy battle but is still the glue that keeps us all together.
So what's the deal with Fantasy Movie League? Well it's pretty straight forward. You pick 8 summer movie blockbusters each week to show in your virtual cinema from within your allotted budget and then accumulate box office money based on US box office figures for that weekend. You can change your movies around each week: add the latest blockbuster or hold on to that ever-so-reliable Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 in your cinema listing; the choice is yours! And yes, that last sentence may very well be the only one in existence which contains the words "blockbuster", "reliable" and "Paul Blart Mall Cop 2". Pretty awesome, right!? The League I mean, not Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 obviously.
One of the difficulties in setting up Fantasy Leagues of any genre amongst my Irish friends is finding a sport that everyone is interested in. A few of my buddies play Fantasy Premier League, a handful play Fantasy Baseball and then there's The Waffle League, my 9 year old NFL Fantasy League which often gets a mention right here on The Sports Waffle. But there's few opportunities to bring new people into leagues - let's face it, you either love soccer or NFL or you don't, it's pretty simple. That's the beauty of Fantasy Movie League, I don't know anyone out there who doesn't watch movies. You also don't need to be a sports fanatic to play - it's probably the most inclusive fantasy sport available right now! You don't even need to like movies, in fact a healthy dislike of movies is encouraged just as long as you can guess accurately as to what the cool kids will be going to see in the US this weekend. If you can do that, then you've got half a chance of being a Fantasy Champion.
Currently I'm into Week 7 of "The Passion of St. Tibulus" Summer Movie League, named in honour of the critically acclaimed movie featured in brilliant Irish sitcom, Fr. Ted. To protect the innocent, I'll refrain from naming the participants in this movie league; but it's fair to say, there's some work colleagues, friends and even my wife. Some are regular fantasy players, some have never played before but I can tell you that seven weeks into Fantasy Movie League, pretty much everyone is hooked.
I'm currently sitting in 5th place in our 12 cinema league - having held on tightly to 3rd spot for a number of weeks before being royally fu*ked over by 'Dope", an award winning movie that bombed at the Box Office while on multiple screens at my "Sharknado Memorial Cineplex". I haven't seen "Dope" and already I hate it. Thank you Fantasy Movie League.
As I mentioned a little earlier, the concept really is quite simple but it is trickier than you think if you want to be the top dog in your league. You've got 8 screens to fill and 1000 BUX (Fantasy Movie League currency) to spend on filling your screens each week. Movies are priced differently each week - e.g. Jurrasic World's opening week cost was over 850 BUX and left little cash to spend on filling your other screens.
There's also two tactical situations you can utilise, the first being you don't have to fill all 8 screens if money is tight but you do lose two million dollars per empty screen in your overall score and the second being the abilty to play the same movie on multiple screens as long as you come within budget while doing so. There's method and indeed madness in equal proportions in each of these tactics. With either tactic though, you'll probably live to fight another day. That is of course unless you forget to set your cinema line-up on the weekend with the largest opening weekend box office takings of all time. As promised, we won't mention any names on that one when it comes to our league but it might begin with a 'T" and end with a "om". He's suffered enough already and with a few weeks left to play, I shouldn't jinx my own luck just yet.
It's not too late to play with your own friends. Set a league up today by heading on over to www.fantasymovieleague.com and get playing for the remaining 8 weeks of the season. You won't regret it, or at least, not half as much as you likely regret paying to see Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 (will he ever stop!).
In signing off, here's a little reminder as to why "The Passion of Saint Tibulus" had been the most talked about movie until Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 came along. (yep, I went there, again!)
Best of luck with your league and if it gets even more of you out to the movies this summer then that can only be a good thing too!
Finally, just to be straight, I can confirm that despite numerous mentions this blog post was not sponsored in any way by Kevin James, who is in fact, genuinely one of the good guys depsite being a NY Jets fan! Go see his movies!