Based on what I was reading going into the weekend, I thought the multiplex was going to be an unexciting place. I was therefore rather surprised to see what I thought were relatively impressive numbers attached to the top films.
According to early estimates for domestic grosses at Box Office Mojo, Sony's (SNE) Just Go With It, starring Adam Sandler, is so far credited with a first-place showing; the movie is believed to have made about $31 million for the Friday-through-Sunday period. But Viacom's (VIA.B) Justin Bieber: Never Say Never product isn't giving up without a fight. At the time of writing, it was in second place with $30.3 million. Essentially, it's a tie.
If that news wasn't enough to intrigue you, take a look at what happened in third place. Disney's (DIS) Gnomeo and Juliet captured over $25 million to secure the spot, much higher than the Focus Features flick The Eagle, which was fourth with $8.6 million. Focus Features is a part of the NBC Universal family, with NBC Universal now being owned by Comcast (CMCSA) and General Electric (GE); Comcast has the controlling stake.
The top three pictures performed well, but I must single out Gnomeo and Juliet in particular because I own shares of Disney. I'm hopeful it will continue to bring in the bucks over upcoming weekends because the Mouse's stock is on a roll. Of course, I know that the cartoon won't be the most important release from the Disney studio segment this year. Hey, with new entries in the Cars and Pirates of the Caribbean franchises on the horizon, this little take on a Shakespearean motif can't necessarily compete. Still, I would rather every cinematic bet, no matter its position in the pipeline, produce as much value as possible.
We'll have to wait for final numbers to tell us if Sandler is indeed stronger than Bieber, but one thing that we do know is that Just Go With It was more expensive to lens. The Hollywood Reporter says that Bieber's offering required a budget of $13 million while Sandler's latest escapade took $80 million to produce. I'd say Viacom won this fight already.
As for the stocks mentioned in this piece, I'd say Disney, General Electric, and Viacom should all be on watch lists. All three are near 52-week highs, and each one possesses an interesting thesis. Be sure to perform your own due diligence before making a move, and remember that any one of them could be overbought at this point.
Disclosure: I own Disney; positions can change without notice.