We've got three comedies opening this weekend, although they are very different kinds of comedies.
First up is Will Ferrell doing what he does well, playing a ridiculous buffoon, in Land of the Lost (LANDL). I like Will Ferrell, but I am not optimistic about this movie. Variety's review calls it a "laborious mess." The stock is at H$65 and change, down H$6 1/2 - at one point it was down H$8. Whoa, not good. It's at 18% on rottentomatoes.com. I'm not even going to bother to check on the screen count. The strike price is H$30, with the call at H$4.47, down H$1.38, and off a high of H$5.90. The put is at H$2.78, and up more than a half today. That means that lots of people were buying the hype up until today, and now everyone is bailing on it. I vaguely remember the TV show in the 70's. I asked my Mom if she remembered me and my siblings watching it way back then. She had no idea what I was talking about. So she obviously has no interest in seeing this whatsoever. I think she's one of the lucky ones this time around. This looks like a total bomb. I think it will be lucky to crack $20 million at the box office.
Stock: Short, and short now
Only slightly more sophisticated, but with better prospects, is The Hangover (HNGOV), about three guys at a bachelor party in Vegas who lose the groom and have to find him. I find this intriguing, if not necessarily my style. Not a completely original idea, but unusual enough to grab my attention. Sounds like there are myriad opportunities for chaos, mayhem, misunderstandings, and the accompanying jokes. The stock is at H$79.65, only down H$1 1/2 today. If LANDL bombs as badly as I think it will, this should benefit from some overflow. Strike price is H$30, which strikes me as a tad optimistic, but not overly so. The call is at H$4 and change, down H$1 today. That also strikes me as a tad optimistic, but I'm going to go long with it, because it's dangerous to short a call on something that is demonstrating potential like this one. The put, however, is also strong, at H$3.43, up 3/8 today. It's at 83% on rottentomatoes.com, which is just about unheard of for a movie like this. There also isn't really any competition. I think the world needs some good laughs right now. Let's aim high. $35 million.
Finally, counterprogramming rather strongly but still within the comedy genre is My Life In Ruins (MLFRU). Nia Vardalos, she of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" fame, returns to the land of the ancients, only this time literally. She's an American tour guide, out to reconnect with her soul, or whatever it is that she lost in her divorce. Light, fluffy, and utterly safe, as long as it's not terrible, I'm sure it will attract a fair number of people in a certain demographic. That would be the demographic that has absolutely no interest in either LANDL or HNGOV. Stock is H$11.48, only down 1/2 today, and mostly up of late. Strike price is H$5, because that is about as low as they can set it. Still, the call is only at H$1.61, down 1/2 today. Not great, but not unexpected. Even that low of a price on the call predicts a stock price of H$16. The put is H$1.74, unchanged, because, honestly, there isn't really that much room for the put to go to. This movie, after all, should make at least $4 million, even though the reviews are harsh (9% on rottentomatoes.com) Vardalos does seem very nice, and she does have lots of goodwill left over. I'm cautiously optimistic.
Update Friday morning: MLFRU is down H$0.52, and I am getting nervous. Short. LANDL is up H$4, but I think that's because it was down so far yesterday. Keep the short.
Update Sunday night: This was a good weekend, I nailed all three adjusts. I forgot to adjust my predictions for the MLFRU options after I changed my mind about the stock, but that's a minor detail. Actually, I basically broke even on MLFPU, so I really only lost about H$20K on MLFCA. Since I made well over H$2 million on the three stocks, and about H$200K on HOVCA, I'm feeling good. HNGOV is, in fact, a bona fide hit, and LANDL is, in fact, a bomb. MLFRU came in at the low end of fairly minimal expectations, but Nia Vardalos will probably see herself on Lifetime a few times.