Tuesday, December 23, 2008

HSX: Christmas Day

We have several movies opening on Christmas Day. One reason for this, of course, is that lots of people have free time that day, after opening presents, to go see movies. But it's also the last possible day of the year to open a movie and have it qualify for the Oscars. A movie has to play for one week in a Los Angeles County theater in the calendar year to qualify for Academy Award nominations. If a movie is still playing when the Oscar ballots go out, presumably it is still very much in Academy members' minds, which will hopefully increase its chances.

That doesn't apply to all of the movies opening this Thursday, because some of them are clearly not in Oscar contention. Primary among those would be:

Bedtime Stories. Adam Sandler stars in this Disney comedy (BEDTM) about a man who tells stories to little kids. The stories start to come true. It's an interesting idea that could be very funny. Adam Sandler is very much a man-child, innocent yet raunchy, so there are possibilities. However, it's trading at H$104, down from a high of H$131. I shorted it. The strike price is $35 million, which sounds about right. The market mostly agrees with me. I'm long on the call and shorting the put.

In serious contention for Oscars, however, is:

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, directed by David Fincher (BBUTN). This should be good. I don't like the movies that David Fincher directs (Seven, Panic Room), but that's mostly because I'm just not a fan of the genre. However, I love his music videos (Madonna's Vogue, Paula Abdul's Cold Hearted Snake). Stylistically, we can expect this to be very interesting. It's also down, trading around H$55, down from H$73. I bought it at H$1.14, so I have a 4,700% profit. I'm somewhat optimistic, because this is a good cast, and it's a unique idea (based on an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story). Strike price is H$15, which actually sounds a little low. I'm long on the call and shorting the put; market is sending the same signal.

In the Very Serious Drama Department, we have:

Doubt. Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman, in a drama about a priest and a nun; she thinks he is sexually abusing a young boy. Highly relevant these days, unfortunately. A little too heavy for me, particularly around the holidays. It's already been released; it's now going wide. It was sinking for a while, but it's been going up steadily for the last couple of weeks, and is now trading at its high, H$15.91. Looks like a good one to hold long, which is what I am doing. Since it's already been released, there are no options for the opening. Talk about Oscar bait.

In the heartwarming category, good for Xmas, we have:

Marley and Me. Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson (although she's been getting vastly more attention for this than him) (MARLY). This is moving up very consistently, and is up H$6 today, to H$82, which is a new high. The buzz must be great. Very strong signals to go long and stay there. Strike price is H$20, which sounds even better than the H$15 strike price for BBUTN. The call is at H$4.47, another strong signal. I am, of course, long the call and short the put.

For the fanboy crowd, we have:

The Spirit. Another movie based on a comic book (SPIRT). This is tanking badly. It's up H$4 today, to H$25.92, but that's a bounce from the rock bottom price it hit yesterday, and down from a high of H$60. That's about the worst possible sign imaginable. I have it short at H$24. Rarely have I seen a stock sink so badly. Yesterday was the low for the year. That's almost unheard of. Must be terrible. Which is too bad, because I like Scartlett Johansson, and I bet she plays great noir. Strike price is H$10, which might be a record low for a movie based on a famous comic book. I have the call long and the put short, which is against my position on the stock. The last thing I am going to do is check this on Christmas morning. I don't think it's going to matter much.

Last, and probably least, is:

Valkyrie. Tom Cruise plays a Nazi (VALKR). A good Nazi, one who tried to assassinate Hitler, but a Nazi nonetheless. I knew someone once whose father was part of this plot. I also have a friend who is familiar with the German press' take on this. They aren't happy. I shorted it a long time ago, at H$40. It then went to H$80, which means I would have lost a ton of money, but it has since dropped to H$46. I expect it to keep dropping. I just can't see an audience for this. Strike price is H$15, which is right in line with the recent price. Still, I'm shorting the call and going long on the put. That's against the market, but I am very cynical about this movie. I like Bryan Singer (USC grad) as a director, but I think Tom Cruise looks like an idiot in the Nazi uniform with the hat.

Way late update: I was mostly right about this week. I was wrong about the options for BEDTM and SPIRT, and wrong about VALKR generally. That's a surprise. Otherwise, tho, it was a pretty good week.

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