Thursday, February 26, 2009

HSX: Week of February 27, 2009

I'm not sure I even want to think about the openers this week, let alone see them. Looks like the big hit of the weekend will the Jonas Brothers: The 3-D Concert Experience (JBC3D). I've heard that Malia Obama is a huge fan of the Jonas Brothers, which is perfectly normal for a 10-year old little girl. Not being one, and not having daily or even weekly contact with one, I have no interest. But I'm sure it will be a great experience for these girls and their parents. The stock is at H$86, a new high, which predicts about a $29 million opening weekend. HSX set the strike price for the options at H$20, which now looks low. I apparently missed buying the options last week, so I had to pay about H$8 for the call. I don't think I've ever done that. Put is, of course, underwater.
Stock: Long
Call: Long
Put: Short

At the other end of the pop culture spectrum is Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (STRFT), based on a video game. This isn't just at the opposite end of the pop culture spectrum; it's also at the end of the financial expectations spectrum. The stock is trading around H$16, down from a high of H$42. Wow. Nothing says "bomb" like a stock that has lost more than half its value. About the only interesting thing I can find about this movie is that it stars an actress named "Moon Bloodgood," which is one of the best names for an actress I have ever heard. HSX set the strike price for this at H$15, back when that was presumably a reasonable expectation, say, three weeks ago. I don't think I have ever seen a stock price so close to the strike price. The price of the stock is based on the box office gross after four weeks, while the strike price is based on the box office gross of the opening weekend. Stock price: four weeks. Strike price: three days. Those two really should be very different. The strike price should be about a third of the stock price. Not this time. The call is trading about as low as possible, while the put is about H$6, which is absurd for a strike price of H$15. Looks like this will be a good weekend for people who are giving up cheesy action movies for Lent.
Stock: Short
Call: Short as the director's career
Put: Long

Update Tuesday afternoon: Well, that was a spectacular miscalculation. Apparently the Jonas Brothers are not as popular as all that. Did I say look for a $29 million opening weekend? I'm sorry, cut that in half, and then cut it some more - they took in around $12.7 million. My big mistake was not checking the screen counts. BIG mistake. The screencount was about 1,200. That's not a big release. With that many screens, they would have need a per-screen average (PSA) of about $24,000, which is almost unheard of for a release like this. They still managed a PSA of better than $9,00, which is perfectly respectable. If they had rolled this out on 3,000 screens, that $9,000 PSA would have resulted in an opening weekend of $29 million or so. Let this be a lesson to us all: check the screencount.

One reason this is important is that it indicates how much money the studio is willing to put behind the release. A print costs about $2,000. So the difference between 1,200 prints and 3,000 prints is close to $4 million. That's a large chunk of change. On the other hand, Hannah Montana's movie, the closest comparison, had an even smaller rollout, less than 700 theaters, and raked in $31 million. Not quite sure what that says about the tastes of teenage girls - maybe they're more interested in role models than crushes.

The other release, Streetfighter, bombed as expected. It brought in $4.65 million, way, way below that $15 strike price. So at least I got that one right.

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