Tuesday, 12 March 2013

How can I tell if a movie is going to be a wide release?

To be considered a wide release on HSX, a film has to appear in at least 650 theaters.

Moviestocks of wide release films cash out after four weekends from the date that they had a wide release.  A film that never appears in 650 or more theatres is a limited release for HSX purposes, and the relevant moviestock cashes out after twelve weekends from the date of release.

Whether a movie gets a wide or a limited release also affects other HSX securities.  Starbonds attached to moviestocks adjust the day after the moviestock is delisted.  And HSX derivatives like Opening Weekend warrants, calls and puts are IPOd only for movies expected to get a wide release.  If OW warrants, calls and puts are IPOd for a movie expected to have a wide release, and the movie turns out not to have a wide release after all, the derivatives will cash out at 0.

So it's important to know - and to predict - whether a movie is going wide.  Sometimes this is easy - movies being released by major distributors will generally have a wide release, while other distributors only ever release a movie in a handful of theatres, especially if a lot of their revenue comes from non-theatrical releases (such as VOD) and will .  But sometimes it is less predictable.

Distributors will sometimes say that they plan to give a film a wide release.  However, the real world doesn't play by HSX rules, so what is wide for a distributor may not be wide for HSX.  Some distributors may say their movie is getting a wide release because it is playing in the 10 largest markets.  Or because they plan to release it in a few theatres with plans to expand it if the film is popular enough - the plans being easily cancelled if the film is not popular.    Or the distributor might just be trying to hype the film into something bigger than it is.

So what distributors say needs to be treated with caution.  It's better to look at realities.

For movies opening this week, you can check the latest theatre counts on Box Office Mojo's release schedule.  In the early half of the week, these are estimates, but the most movies are updated for actual theatre numbers on Thursday afternoon.

For movies opening further ahead, you can make an educated guess about whether a film will go HSX-wide by doing some research by using the advanced search function on HSX.  From the 'Security Type' drop-down menus, select 'Active & Delisted' and 'Moviestock', select the relevant distributor from the newly-appeared 'Distributor' drop-down menu, and then click on 'Search HSX'.  This will bring up a list of past and future films from the distributor.  (You can also get similar information from Box Office Mojo, which has a lists of distributors, their box office histories and future releases.)

If the distributor has never gone wide before, you should question what makes this movie different from the distributor's other releases that would support a wide release.  Things to look for would be a big budget, well-known stars, a story with mass commercial appeal and lots of publicity.  Small budget movies, stars who may be familiar faces but are not box office draws, arthouse stories and no ads on television are all indicators of a limited release.  You can also look at other future releases by the distributor.  If they have what it takes to be a wide release, then maybe this movie will too.

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