Tracking the Cantor Index Spread:
Week Five

By Reagen Sulewski

August 23, 2001

My winning (or non-losing streak) continues with opening weekends, as Captain Corelli's Mandolin's underwhelming $7.2 million opening lands me on the side of the good with my spread bet. My short position purchased at $12 million gives me a five-point profit swing ($7.2 million rounding down to $7 million). With a £25 bet, this returns £150 (£25*5 profit plus the original £25). This was a situation where I was cannily able to ride out the spread to a favorable position, initially buying long at $12 million and being able to reverse position without losing money. OK, OK, so luck played a role. Luck can just be another word for instinct sometimes. OK, instinct and finding advance screen counts.

The mediocre performance of CCM carried over profitability towards my short of its four-week total. The gamble here pays off again, as the drop from a $34-38 million spread to an $18-22 million spread gives me a (as yet unrealized) profit of 12 points, or £300 on my £25 bet. A further position on this one is difficult to take, as the relative breadth of the spread (22%) leaves little room for maneuvering. At any rate, $22 million represents a 3.05 multiplier over 4 weeks for CCM, which strikes me as unlikely, given the poor word-of-mouth and the critical drubbing the film has been given. On the other hand, $18 million is a 2.5 multiplier. While not a horrendous performance level, this would be about the bottom level for what would ordinarily be predicted for a low- to medium-level August release. At any rate, I feel confident that the four-week total should end up in this $18-22 million range, so no further action on this bet from me at this time.

Planet of the Apes is nearly ready to cash out its four-week bet. With $162.9 million in the bank and two days to go, this looks to go out at around $164.5 million, pretty much in the middle of the $162-167 million spread that is offered by Cantor. Two more points of profit for my short, compared to last week's $164-169 million spread. With a £25 bet short on this total, there's no sense in trying to cash this one out with 2.5 more points of profit to come. Assuming that final total, my short at $172 million projects to a 7.5 point profit.

Rush Hour 2 continues to move along strongly, with $170 million in the bank as of Tuesday and one weekend to go. Following the pattern of previous blockbusters this summer, its second weekend after opening drop-off was smaller than its first weekend after opening. The other movies in this loose category all showed another "improvement" in their third weekend after opening, and I see no reason for that not to continue with Rush Hour 2. While not reaching my early bullish predictions of $200 million in four weeks, a still extremely solid $190 million is looking to be a likely total. The spread is currently sitting at $183-188 million, an increase of $2 million over this time last week. I currently have two bets of £35 and £65 on this spread long, and I'll make it a third here, putting £50 down long.

American Pie 2's four-week bet was not as kind to me as my other bets this week. Although it was the first film since June to keep the number one spot, a 53% drop in its first weekend after opening highly curtailed its opportunities to carry on that streak much longer. Although it has the slight advantage of having the Labor Day weekend occur in its fourth weekend of release, this will be too little, too late to give it the kind of total I was hoping for in placing a long bet at the $127-132 million spread. Both my four-week bets are currently carrying unrealized losses, of four and 11 points respectively. This is another case where Cantor's spread encompasses what I feel will be the final total, so I'm going to let these bets sit too, in the hopes of reducing losses.

Although not listed on the Web site, a new line is available for bettors on Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Currently sitting at $13-15 million for the weekend and $38-42 million for four weeks, this spread represents a bit of a puzzler to me as a bettor. While Kevin Smith's movies still retain that cult-audience feel to them, they have steadily been gaining popularity, with his last release, Dogma, opening to $8.6 million on 1,260 screens. Additionally, the film did a healthy $33.8 million on video, more than its revenue in theaters. Numerous test screenings and sneak previews have been relentlessly promoting the film, hoping to break it out of the Askewniverse audience and into the mainstream. As someone who is a fan of Smith's films, this is a difficult assessment to make. The early word from fans has been positive, although at the same time saying that non-fans will be confused. This has probably been the most difficult position to evaluate in the brief run of this column. For this reason, I am going to place only a small, £10 bet long on the weekend total. This definitely appears to be a situation where the house could win all bets. This is primarily a fan-boy-type bet, as the smart money would be in staying out of this one altogether.

Thursday morning addendum:
With 2,765 venues, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is getting a bigger rollout than I had initially expected. This gives me more confidence in my position than I had had earlier, and could be the difference for the film on the weekend. I'll place an additional £15 long bet on the opening weekend, even though the spread has now moved to $14-16 million.

Betting History
Bet Type
Spread at Bet
Current Spread
8/8/01Planet of the ApesFour week£25Short$172-177 million$162-167 millionProjected cashout 8/24/01 at $164.5 million.
8/8/01Rush Hour 2Four Week£35Long$179-184 million$183-188 million--
8/8/01American Pie 2Four Week£25Long$120-125 million$121-126 million--
8/15/01American Pie 2Four Week£25Long$127-132 million$121-126 million--
8/15/01Rush Hour 2Four Week£65Long$181-186 million$183-188 million--
8/15/01Captain Corelli's MandolinWeekend£25Short$12-14 million$7 million5 point profit spread. Cashout 8/22/01 for £150.
8/15/01Captain Corelli's MandolinFour Week£25Short$34-38 million$18-22 million--
8/22/01Jay and Silent Bob Strike BackWeekend£10Long$13-15 million$13-15 million--
8/22/01Rush Hour 2Four Week£50Long$183-188 million$183-188 million--
8/23/01Jay and Silent Bob Strike BackWeekend£15Long$14-16 million$14-16 million--

Assets and Bets
Initial stake: £500
Cash on Hand: £1920
Amount in Bets: £275
Unrealized Profits and Losses: £180

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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