Clash of the Titans

D.K. is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.

Great juggernauts vied for supremacy over the weekend. The cinematic playing field was like a chaotic sweat-hewed WWE ring, with the pale undead, an ice guardian, and a larger-than-life president thrashing each other to the cheers of the masses … and surprisingly a human being, James Bond, came out on top. The guy in a gray suit beat off the glittery vampires and the late President to retake the number one box office spot for the weekend of December 7 - 9.

Has it only been five weeks since Skyfall landed in theaters? It already feels like a year, probably due to the media frenzy that kicked off with some amusing stunts at the London Olympics. This third Daniel Craig outing as Bond is distributed by a subsidiary of Sony Corporation (NYSE: SNE), Columbia, via the troubled MGM, and the film made $11,000,000 over the weekend, to bring the domestic tally to $261,620,000, and augmenting its worldwide total to $918,220,000. The self-conscious, self-ribbing Skyfall remains the franchise brainchild of the heirs of Albert J. Broccoli, whose cinema savvy – or at least Bond savvy – bodes well if MGM ever finally goes public, or is absorbed into Sony-Columbia. Sony has proved to be a good company, but in general its stock has been declining over the past year, down to $10 dollars a share; but Bond and a few other good hits could contribute to a small turn around come summer. 

In second place came the Xmas-themed animated feature Rise of the Guardians, based on a popular kids book series featuring Jack Frost, Santa, and bunnies. Though poorly reviewed, Guardians made made $10.5 million dollars for its distributor DreamWorks Animation (NASDAQ: DWA), the feature being distributed by the privately held Paramount, itself owned by Viacom, and the last film in the Paramount-DreamWorks distribution deal. This brought Guardians's total to $61,914,000 after three weeks, though Guardians was also the No. 1 film overseas – barely. DreamWorks goes for just under $16 dollars a share right now, but over the last three months its price has fluctuated between $16 and $20, but could rise thanks to its lineup of forthcoming features, which include The Croods, a caveman comedy, Turbo, a speedway action-comedy, and a movie version of Mr. Poindexter and Sherman derived from the old Jay Ward cartoons. All three are to be distributed by Fox, scion of News Corporation (NASDAQ: NWS). Unless one of these films is some kind of Lion King level break out hit, these animated movies should provide at least solid returns for Fox through 2013. 

Word of a no-longer-passive and sullen Belle may have spurred interest in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2, from Summit Entertainment, now owned by Lions Gate Entertainment (NYSE: LGF). Kristin Stewart is in fighting trim and leather outfits as she flies through the air and beats up bad guy vamps. Her brio has contributed to a domestic total of $268.7 million dollars, $268,691,029 worldwide after just four weeks. Though Lions Gate also has Hunger Games for about three to six films, depending on how they break up the three novels, unfortunately the company picked up Summit just as the Twilight franchise was coming to an end – but then, there is a vampiric eternity to be had of DVD, TV, and subsidiary sales still attached to Twilight, not to mention conventions and who-knows-what other entities down the road. Still, one can almost feel the itch for a new franchise, and if Summit and/or Lions Gate can secure another new franchise, income should be steady, and Lions Gate should advance from its $15 dollars a share perch (after being around $11 earlier in the year).

With both Guardians and Lincoln in the top five, Steven Spielberg maintains his mastery of the holiday screens, though in truth his relations with his former company, DreamWorks, is tangential. His bio-pic Lincoln was released by Buena Vista, i.e., The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS). Though the film is not much livelier than the animatronic Lincoln in Disneyland itself, the talky, cloistered film squeezed out $9,115,000 million this weekend from viewers eager to see their national heritage dramatized, and has earned $97,335,000 over five weeks. Though Spielberg and playwright Tony Kushner came attached to the project, it was still a risky proposition that appears to have turned out well for the $65 million dollar budgeted closet epic, which once again speaks to the prescience of Disney (or its marketing team), whose execs also recently acquired the Star Wars franchise. Happy days for Disney stockholders, whose shares have been rising steadily for the past year. It's not too late to get on that gravy train.

Now, it's onward to Hobbiton, and the next clash of the juggernauts.


dkholm has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney and is short Sony (ADR) and has the following options: long JAN 2013 $22.00 calls on Sony (ADR). Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Walt Disney and DreamWorks Animation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Is this post wrong? Click here. Think you can do better? Join us and write your own!

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