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The Week in Review/The Week Ahead: The Universal Fund [UNIVX], Episode 10

Posted by: UNIVX (a.k.a UNIVXFund) on Nov 22, 11:53

Another week of playing news items with not too much to report.  We made most of our cash this week on moves from the Huntsman sequel, A Monster Calls, and The Boss; all following poster/trailer reveals.  While we don't quite have the returns of FOXX, managed by hyperzeitgeist with some stellar day trading skills that I simply don't have the time to duplicate (and who seems to be inspiring a bit of jealousy around these parts, which he should take as a credit to his abilities-- go invest in FOXX!) we have been able to sustain solid progess over the last several weeks without wide releases.  We're currently more than a month ahead of last year's UNIVX fund, which delisted at $199 and change, so I continue to make the goal of this year's fund to break $200, and we are well on target to hit that goal.

The negative box office slump seems to be affecting everything these days, so traders beware and factor that into your trading style.  Even James Bond and the Hunger Games have been affected to some degree, though James Bond received mixed reviews compared with Skyfall, and Hunger Games seemed to have lost some of the franchise's fire (and quality) on the previous outing.  For now, it seems the best general play is to short everything a week or two before wide release except in the case of rare exceptions.  It seems HSX traders have gotten overambitious in their expectations, while the general movie industry is in a bit of a recession.

Star Wars will likely be the one exception to that over the holiday season, but it's already trading very high on the HSX.  Still, I'd be surprised if that stock didn't continue to go up.  With some of the Marvel movies hitting close to a billion, there's still a lot of room there.  I think considering the spotty fare over Christmas, we're actually positioned quite well for Ride Along 2 in January, which is still trading at just over half of what the original made.  Even in today's market, my hunch is that RA2 will at least duplicate.  Before that we've got the genre fare of Krampus and The Forest, which will be watched closely.  Both could perform well as counter-programming or be ignored by audiences; we'll have to wait and see.  And finally Sisters, which I expect to underperform, but again will watch closely just in case.  But let's look ahead at the next 3 Universal releases in our ongoing slate profile.


This sounds like a somewhat miltaristic take on Ghostbusters with a special ops team fighting ghosts in NYC.  It stars Max Martini, James Badge Dale, Emily Mortimer, and Bruce Greenwood-- some capable supporting actors, but certainly not recognizable A-list talent.  It's set for wide release and, at $10, is likely trading under its value.  But its helmed by a first-time director and with a script by George Nolfi (The Adjustment Bureau) and John Gatins (Real Steel, Flight, Need For Speed), it's a real question mark until we see footage. 

Kubo and the Two Strings

An animated film from Laika (Will Vinton's old studio, responsible for Coraline, Paranorman, and The Boxtrolls).  It's a first time-director, but both the director and one of the writers have worked on previous Laika projects.  On HSX, Coraline made before $61 cashout, Paranorman $45, and The Boxtrolls $46.  From those three films, we can project some kind of estimate for Kubo at around $50, which currently trades around $20.  It also features the voice talent of Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, and Rooney Mara.

A Monster Calls

This is the first Universal release scheduled for after this iteration of the fund delisting, on October 14th, 2016.  I'll likely continue profiling Universal films in future installments, but I may do 1-3 films per update instead of always doing 3.  Eventually we are going to run out of films.  Also, I'll be working in limited releases that may pop up during the course of the next year and aren't already on the schedule as some of the farther-out wide releases, as well as IPO's.

As for Monster, it's tough to tell too much from the teaser that's been put up.  It's easy to see this tanking, or being a relevant monster-metaphor with a fair amount of quality and subtext behind it.  But... those films don't always translate to box office dollars.  It does have a good cast that includes Liam Neeson, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, and Toby Kebbell, and it's directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, who did a fantastic job with similarly genre The Orphanage, then switched gears for the prestige picture The Impossible, before returning to genre and directing several episodes of Penny Dreadful.  He's also been announced as the director for the upcoming World War Z sequel.  Considering all of the behind-the-scenes drama of the first one, it's likely Paramount's choice for the sequel was extremely well-considered, and bodes well for the quality of Monster.  But again, that doesn't necessarily translate to box office gold.  We'll have to get close to release date to have a better idea of whether or not this one will catch with American audiences.

That wraps things up for now.  Have a great Thanksgiving if you're in the States, and a Happy Holiday season to all!  The fund's next release is The Danish Girl on November 27th, and next wide release is Krampus on December 4th.

Tag(s): UNIVX

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