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Judge David Ryan • Location: Natick, MA
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The HSX Report - 6/2/07
June 3rd, 2007 1:20AM

A special weekend update -- and a late one at that, due to my being easily distracted by pretty girls -- to discuss today's weekend IPO. So without further ado...

The Girl from IPOnema

Sgt. Rock (SGROC) -- H$30
On the one hand, it's a comic book. On the other hand, it's not a superhero comic book. On the gripping hand, it's a DC (Batman) property and not a Marvel (Spider-man) one. On the... um... other gripping hand (and now we're talking about watchmakers, I guess*), it's a World War II DC-property comic book. The flood of comic/superhero film stocks is the bane of a trader's existence on HSX. Every comic/graphic novel character is floated as a potential franchise these days; however, few of these films are actually destined to reach the screen. So we need to ask this: what makes Sgt. Rock stand out from all the rest, if anything?

Well, it's got an easy premise to describe: "An action-adventure version of Private Ryan". It's set in WW2, which people understand -- it's not some alternate-universe-where-mutants-walk-among-us film. It will almost certainly be dumb fun at best. Since Arnold can't play the role -- he's got another job, and Sgt. Rock really can't have a German accent -- you've got a number of possible ways to go with casting. It also very well could suck donkey balls.

So the bottom line here is: I don't know. HSX is IPOing it on a Saturday, though, which means that they think it has blockbuster potential. You'll rarely lose money in the short run on these Saturday offerings, so go ahead and put a little money into it if you like. But comic/superhero films are a crapshoot. For every Spider-man, there's a Daredevil.

Mini-feature: Screens, screens, screens!
I really should have mentioned this earlier in the week... but one thing you should be on the lookout for is the announcement (usually mid-week) of screen totals for the films in release on the upcoming weekend. Your pet film may be the greatest work of cinematic beauty since cinema was invented, but it ain't gonna adjust to H$300 if it's opening on 40 screens. There are only so many movie screens in the US, and if you're debuting a new film, it means some other film has to come off that screen. This not only affects openers (the more screens, the more potential cash on opening weekend), but stocks in release heading towards a cash-out. If you see that last week's blockbuster is on only 1000 screens this week, versus the 4000 it was on last week, you're going to have to figure that into your estimate for how much the film will make before delisting.

How do you learn this evaluation technique? Well, just pay attention for a few weeks. See what the per screen earnings for certain films are, and see how they change from week to week as films go through their release cycle. After a while, you'll get a big enough basis for comparision that you'll be able to see "2485 screens" and come up with a reasonable range of box office by instinct.

That's a lot of math for the weekend. Sorry about that. Have a good rest of the weekend, and see you Monday. Excelsior!

*Obscure Larry Niven/Jerry Pournelle reference.


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