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This story first appeared in the June 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
ESPN’s Matthew Berry is trying to meld fantasy sports with Hollywood.
On May 15, the network’s senior fantasy sports analyst launched FantasyMovieLeague.com, where players assume the role of cineplex owners and try to earn more “FML Bux” than others during the course of 10 weeks.
The concept isn’t new; Hollywood Stock Exchange, BoxOfficeFantasy.com and BoxOfficeChamps.com offer versions of his system. But Berry arguably is the biggest name in fantasy sports: His commentary is featured on ESPN; Fox developed a pilot based on his best-selling book, Fantasy Life; and such celebrities as Seth Meyers, Zooey Deschanel and Dale Earnhardt Jr. seek his advice.
During the site’s first week, 3,000 people joined leagues, despite no advertising beyond a tweet to Berry’s 700,000 followers. On the site, players receive 1,000 FML Bux they can spend to put films on eight screens, scoring points based on how well the titles perform each weekend. On May 29, for example, San Andreas cost $430, so a player could have put the movie on two screens and filled their other six with lesser performers Ex Machina ($16) and The Age of Adaline ($13).
Law permitting, Berry would like to launch cash games similar to daily fantasy sports, a $330 million annual business. (For now, the site offers Fandango gift cards.) When he has enough users, he’ll sell his data to studios, as HSX does.
Says Berry, “My belief is we can build a robust game that will have people caring about movies even more than they already do.”
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