Viacom (VIA) is most certainly a giant media conglomerate, but now and again an event within one business division becomes a rally cry for consumers, shareholders and potentially traders. Viacom hopes that Paramount, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg can deliver theatrical box office records with the latest installment of the Indiana Jones film franchise.
The 4th film in the series, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull opened Thursday and is aiming for box office records over the American Memorial Day long weekend. A 5 Day domestic gross north of $150Million would be a great start for the film. Some analysts are hopeful for over $170Million. Considering the budget for Dr. Jones was around $180Million, with by most estimates, about as much spent on marketing, Paramount needs the box office to come through in a big way! If anyone can do it, it's George Lucas, as his string of successes rank very highly with cinema history's best and most lucrative filmmakers.
The worldwide theater push for the first Indiana Jones film in almost 20 years appears to have set Paramount on the right track to continue its 2008 Summer movie blitz. Paramount was the distribution partner for Marvel Enterprises (MVL) Iron Man, the biggest film so far this year. While Marvel gets to keep the bigger piece of the pie for Iron Man, Paramount is alone in profiting from the latest escapades of senor Indiana.
Meanwhile, Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull chased down $311.1 million from moviegoers around the world, as nostalgic fans brought along their children to watch Harrison Ford’s latest escapades. The tally included $151.1 million from the United States and Canada – the second-highest U.S. Memorial Day holiday weekend opening in history – and $160 million from No. 1 launches in 61 other countries, the studio said.
Foreign highlights included $24 million in Britain and $14 million in France. Sales in France were boosted by the hype surrounding its glitzy world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on the French Riviera last Sunday.
In the past, movies that have captured the imagination of the general public, and created a media frenzy, as has been seen lately with Indiana Jones, certainly have the potential to spread into the trading floors.
With the release of a new video game in the band’s name – “The Beatles: Rock Band.” Viacom should be the biggest beneficiary of the game’s success. Its MTV unit owns Harmonix Music Systems, the creator of “Guitar Hero” and several “Rock Band” titles, including “The Beatles.”
The game is enormously popular, having generated over $1 billion in revenue. And gamers can download individual songs, albums, or catalogs of groups like AC/DC, The Who and The Grateful Dead. So far, they’ve paid for and downloaded over 40 million songs.
Viacom shares seem cheap. And if the game sells as well as I believe it will, shareholders will reap the reward .