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Tracking the Cantor Index Spread

By Reagen Sulewski

November 15, 2001




It's go time in the world of movie betting, with Harry Potter's opening weekend looming large. Amateur estimates have only increased since the line was created last week, although Cantor's line on the opening weekend hasn't changed from my last update. It still sits at $81-$84 million, a figure well above the three day record of The Lost World at $72.13 million. This tells you just how highly hyped and anticipated this film is. Of course, the politics of prediction and reality often mix like oil and water, with pundits attempting to out 'up' each other for films of this nature, pushing estimates higher and higher, sometimes without good reason. Star Wars Episode I was a prime example of this, with predictions becoming completely outlandish, relying on 24-hour screenings at 100% capacity. Whether this is one of those cases is something we'll know in three days, but for now let me attempt to perch in the narrow area between the record opening and those expecting it to blow away the record. I think that at this point most everyone is conceding a record weekend to the Hogwarts crew. However, I think that even the lower end of the range set by Cantor is going to be a tough challenge for any film to reach, let alone this one. The announced theater count of 3,672 with 8,200 shipped prints will obviously help (both are records) but this is only a slight increase over Mission:Impossible 2 and probably won't be the deciding factor. My estimate remains in the mid 70s, so I'm going to leave my previous £15 short bet on the table.

The four week bet is a slightly different story, as it has increased a slight amount to $227-232 million. This isn't really an amount that gives me a real cause to profit take, as it's only a two point profit from where I bought in. What I do note is that this number gives a four week multiplier of 2.70-2.86 against the opening weekend line, below the average of just over 2.9. What's more, this movie has Thanksgiving weekend as its second weekend, which will only serve to propel the movie further if word of mouth is strong, or buoy it if it's below expectations. This may not even be necessary as history shows that even when large numbers of fans are turned off, as with The Phantom Menace (some violently) the overall cultural effect can be enough to carry it through a few weeks of support. I suspect that this line underestimates what the film can do in its weeks following the opening. I don't particularly expect it to move much after this weekend, if news is positive, but I do expect that it could move after a successful Thanksgiving weekend. Again, the previous bet stands.

The UK box office of Harry Potter is a slightly different story. Preview screenings this weekend were good, but a little too good, taking in £6.6 million over two days in an 'ultra wide for England' 471 venues. This included a record £3.5 million on Saturday, breaking the record set by The Phantom Menace in a similar situation. That film went on to gross £9.5 million in its opening weekend. A crucial difference here is that it had only one preview day while Potter has had two. While undoubtedly some of the preview screeners are going to go back for second (and third, and so on) visits, I think the bulk of those visits are going to be one-shots. This is not really a concern for the producers of the film, as they don't really care which day they get their money, but a vital factor to consider for those betting on the performance of the film on specific days. Even assuming that the record day can be repeated, multiplying by three gives us £10.5 million, which is shy of the sell point Cantor has of £10.6 million. For this reason, I'm going to reverse my position, eating the loss of £50 but drawing from reserves to sell again for £10.

Monsters, Inc proved to be the big gainer for me this week, as a miniscule 27% drop in its second weekend gave it a total of $122 million as of Sunday and $130.6 as of Tuesday (with the Veteran's Day holiday proving to be a big boost on what would have ordinarily been a relatively slow Monday). It might have gotten lost in the hoopla surrounding Potter if not for the outstanding success the film become in its own right. I continue to think that the competition between these two films will not be as much as expected, although the Cantor line of $194-199 at which the film now sits is getting steep. A continuation of its behaviour through Thanksgiving weekend would put it at around $213 million, although this is probably optimistic. I expect a slight decline in the film's performance this weekend, but with the lucrative Thanksgiving weekend looming, a total above $200 is definitely within reach. Again, the bet stays.

Betting History - Settled Bets
Date
Film
Bet Type
Amount
Position
Spread at Bet
Current Spread
Notes
11/8/01Harry Potter Weekend (UK)Weekend£10Long£10.6-11 million£10.6-11 millionSettled on 11/14/01 for 5 point loss. Settlement for £40 loss.

Betting History - Active Bets
Date
Film
Bet Type
Amount
Position
Spread at Bet
Current Spread
Notes
11/8/01Harry PotterWeekend£15Short$81-84 million$81-84 million--
11/8/01Harry PotterFour Week£100Long$220-225 million$227-232 million2 point unrealized profit.
11/8/01Monsters, Inc.Four Week£25Long$173-178 million$194-199 million16 point unrealized profit.
11/14/01Harry PotterWeekend (UK)£10Short£10.6-11 million£10.6-11 million--

Assets and Bets
Initial stake: £500
Cash on Hand: £2,017.50
Amount in Bets: £145
Unrealized Profits and Losses: £520


The information in this article is for entertainment purposes only and does not constitute any form of advice or recommendation in making any specific investment or betting decisions. Nothing in this article is intended to encourage or facilitate any activity that is prohibited by the laws of any governmental authority.


     


 
 

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