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The Week in Review/The Week Ahead: The Universal Fund [UNIVX], Episode 12

Posted by: UNIVX (a.k.a UNIVXFund) on Dec 06, 15:21

We finished the week with an 8.3% increase, and we're already up 3+% this week thanks to Krampus' performance and the 50 Shades Freed IPO.  Expect a continued bump tomorrow with 50 Shades continuing to rise after IPO and the cashing out of the Krampus derivates.  We're currently a hair under $30, which puts us almost a months ahead of last year's UNIVX fund.  In next week's episode, after we pass by December 10th, I'll do a look at the monthly growth for the first 3 months and the projections until cashout at end of next August.

Both Suffraggette and By the Sea are now undervalued, so they've been flipped and we'll probably hold them long until cashout.  We've also flipped The Danish Girl to long with the announcement of it going wide, and covered the short on Legend when it appeared to have hit its valley.  And we've cashed out on The Mummy 4 and the Van Helsing reboot.  I'm hoping to just hold The Forest and Ride Along 2 until release, and for now am continuing to hold the short on Sisters.  We're also fully into Race, and have some money to play with in anticipation of the next news item, more once we eventually drop the 50 Shades sequel when the IPO plateaus.  We'll also continue holding Visions and The Veil short until cashout.  Right now I'm resisting parking cash into Hail Caesar, because, while I love the Coens, the stock price seems on par for a commerical venture from them.  I can envision the stock underperforming rather that outperforming its current trading price, but I'm not ready to short it yet either, and pay the price for being wrong.

Overall I'm happy with the success of the fund so far, particularly when taking into account that the only two hits Universal has had since our IPO has been since our IPO have been The Visit and now Krampus.  One of the reasons I was attracted to managing Universal is their plan for making their monster films relevant once again.  I don't know how well this will shake out in the long term, and I'm not giving unabashed support to their current plans... and either way none of those films will release during this year's iteration of UNIVX.  I will be curious to see what spring brings with the release of bigger films like Ride Along 2, The Boss, The Huntsman, Neighbors 2, and Warcraft, but a part of me really wishes I could be playing in the box office waters of a slate of Universal monster releases.  And with that thought, let's take a look forward at the next 3 Universal releases.


Let It Snow

Not much about this film either here or on imdb, but from the logline I assume they're going for something in the vein of the Garry Marshall holiday-pandering flicks Valentine's Day, New Year's Eve, and the upcoming Mother's Day.  However, those films has large ensemble star-studded casts, and there are no cast announcements for Let It Snow.  Kay Cannon, who has written the Pitch Perfect films as well as some 30 Rock and New Girl episodes, is supposedly working on the script according to HSX, but it's not listed on her imdb credits.  There also doesn't seem to be a director attached.  The script purportedly adapts stories from John Green (The Fault In Our Stars, Paper Towns) and a pair of less successful YA authors, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle... who from my internet research appear to be really awful writers responsible for some pretty banal stuff.  Obviously Cannon can write a hit movie, but until we hear announcement of cast/director, I'm going to call Let It Snow's current value overpriced.  Fault may have done $124 million, but Paper Towns only did $32, and that was without the inclusion of two hacky wannabes.  It's a little odd to me that Universal has already planted a release date with such little info out there, but I suppose that's simply them wanting to capitalize on a Christmas release window for a Christmas-themed project.  I wouldn't be suprised to see this eventually be put in turnaround or released as a limited.



An animated musical featuring the voice talents of Reese Witherspoon, Scarlet Johannson, John Reilly, Seth McFarlance, Taran Edgerton (The Kingsman), and starring Matthew McConaughey as a koala.  It's being directed by Garth Jennings, who did Son of Rambow (which I liked), and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (which I thought was a well-intentioned mess/disaster).  But it is being produced by Illumination, who did the Despicable Me and Minions films, as well as the upcoming The Secret Life of Pets.  Let's shoot for a conservative estimate by removing the Despicable Me and Minions movies from our projections, and simply eyeball the box office returns of their new IP animations.  Hop did $108 million, The Lorax $214, and Despicable Me $251.  That puts the average just shy of $200 million at $191.  So it would seem Sing is probably a fairly undervalued stock, and it behoove the fund to jump on it as soon as news hits, or park some money in it if we have extra.  It's only a year out, which isn't that far for a huge animated movie, and the price tag is a comparative steal at the moment.


The Book of Henry

This is certainly a stock to watch.  It's the third film from Colin Trevorrow, after the accomplished, quirky debut Safety Not Guaranteed and the runaway juggernaut that was Jurassic World.  While one certainly shouldn't expect Jurassic-type numbers, he will have a lot of public and studio goodwill aimed at him, and his filmmaking will certainly benefit from having had the Jurassic experience.  It's a crime film about a woman and her two sons that stars Lee Pace, Naomi Watts, and Sarah Silverman.  Pace and Watts are both fantastic actors, and Silverman's been upping her profile lately with Masters of Sex and her recent, critically-acclaimed dramatic turn in I Smile Back.  It's possible this could end up being a limited release, as it hasn't been scheduled wide yet, but I think it's much more likely than even if it's a film with a smaller scope, with their current relationship with Trevorrow, Universal would push it wide and it would fairly easily hit the $40-$50 range.  And it's also very possible that even if it is a more intimate film, in the wake of Jurassic World Trevorrow has adapted his style to be able to produce a smaller film on a bigger budget, think something along the lines of Sam Raimi doing A Simple Plan and The Gift after Spider-Man.  Those could have been low-budget indies, but instead were produced on a larger studio budget, and looked like it.  At the time, they both did around $15 million, but this is a different world 15 years later where the middle has fallen out.  I could see it falling somewhere in with the likes of The Prestige, Inception, The Silver Linings Playbook, and American Hustle.  Again, until we get more information, I'll conservatively guess at $40-50 for now, and reserve the choice to double that figure later.  But certainly $15 seems very low.


And that wraps up another installment.  Universal's next release (and next wide release) is Sisters on December 18th.

Tag(s): UNIVX

The Week in Review/The Week Ahead: The Universal Fund [UNIVX], Episode 12   UNIVX on Dec 06, 15:21

Should have reread before posting, so many typos. On Sing, I meant I was discluding the Despicable me sequels from the average I was   UNIVX on Dec 06, 15:28

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