Thursday, April 16, 2009

HSX: Week of April 17, 2009

Opening this weekend is Zac Efron's attempt to transcend High School Musical, "17 Again," Jason Statham's latest attempt to keep his career going, "Crank 2," and the latest attempt by Hollywood to keep adults coming to serious movies by making movies about nefarious corporate conspiracies "State of Play."

17 Again (SVNTN) sounds like it could be fun, for the right crowd. The stock has moved up nicely of late, hovering in the low 50's, up almost H$5 today. The strike price is H$10 - huh? - absurdly low, if the stock is even remotely accurate. Call is way up, above H$7. Put of course is down about as far as possible, currently at H$0.31. This one looks easy to call.
Stock: Long
Call: Long
Put: Short

"He was dead. But he got better." Not bad for a tagline. In Crank 2: High Voltage (CRAN2), Jason Statham loses his heart - literally. Some Chinese mobsters steal it, and replace it with a battery-powered one, that needs to be jump-started every so often. This movie certainly earns points for creativity of plot. The stock has been floating around in the mid-30's for a while, currently H$35.48, just barely off its high. You know what you're getting with a Jason Statham movie. A B movie with good production values. HSX set the strike price the same as 17 Again, H$10, but the market is not quite as optimistic. Still, the call is at H$4, although it's down today. The put is up today, to just barely above a buck, so the signals suggest about a $13 million opening weekend. Which would be slightly more than the first movie. That's reasonable.
Stock: Long
Call: Long
Put: Short

The most interesting play this weekend is State of Play (STPLY), yet another movie about corporate/political malfeasance and the beautiful people who get tangled in the webs thereof. This stock is dropping like a rock. It's at H$30 as of this writing, down from a high of H$57. Oh boy. HSX was originally optimistic about the strike price, setting it at H$15, back when that made a certain amount of sense. Not anymore. The call is underwater and under a buck, while the put is rising fast, almost at H$4. With this cast (Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren), I think it should make $10 million on its opening weekend, but probably not much more than that.
Stock: Short
Call: Short
Put: Long

Update Sunday night: Well, I got 17 Again right, but almost everything else wrong. State of Play looks like it might be a moderate hit, although it didn't make its strike price. Crank 2, on the other hand, crashed. It will probably still make money, because its production budget was probably quite low, but I sure didn't make money on it.

The one good thing to come out of Crank 2 for me was the review in the LA Times, which had some great lines:

"Balanced at the point where conceptual brilliance and pure stupidity meet,"

"But plausibility is not the point. It's more like the enemy."

"Characters like Bai Ling's manic, pidgin-spouting prostitute and Clifton Collins Jr.'s Elvis-obsessed gangster don't flirt with caricature so much as they ravish it, overloading stock stereotypes until they explode"

Great review, by a critic I've never heard of (at least in terms of movie reviews), Sam Adams. Looking forward to more from this guy.

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