This weekend was a complete non-event, with the box office recording the lowest take since September, 2008, and we know the significance of that month for the markets. The box office was down 15% from the same weekend last year.
Of course, the movies were dismal and completely forgettable as well. New Years Eve and The Sitter? Why bother? These films scream for home viewing only. Why shell out the cash for this derivative fare? Been there, seen these flicks before.
So, we have no direction or emotion from the box office. We’re at the mercy of politicians in the markets and a vacuum of creativity in Hollywood. It’s like the whole world is desperately trying to play it safe in a dangerous time.
We have the Christmas holiday season coming and Hollywood hopes the big films draw in crowds or there will be lumps of coal in a lot of executive stockings come December 25th.
Could she be an indicator of the future prosperity of your wallet?
In the Business Insider today, there is a list of “bizarre” stock market indicators, including the movie box office. Now, I like BI for their fantastic headlines and quirky takes on practically everything, but to lump in a perfectly good emotional indicator of the social mood of a large number of people with crazy indicators like Latvian hookers and baked beans strikes me as absurd. Their box office indicator is labelled a “popcorn” index, but basically it ties in peaks in movie attendance with down markets. MarketBOB fans know there is much more to movies than just attendance, as in the types of movies and stars we pay money to see in times of hope and fear. However, the more we keep labeling emotional indicators as bizarre, we will have the edge over the traditional mindset that thinks the future can be predicted by statistics and charts. In fact, no one can predict the future but if you want to try, at least have fun.
Audiences voted with their money this weekend to watch a feel-good family tale about a dolphin without a tail. Rejected at the box officer were new movies: 50/50, a cancer dramedy, R-rated comedy What’s Your Number? and the horror flick Dream House.
The movie mood seems to be searching for comfort and the familiar, retreating into family fare. A good animal movie reminds us of the honesty and affection we have for cute critters who do not judge us, but share the same core values we think we all share. Unlike our economic animals who prey on our emotions, these cuddly dolphins and lions which have topped the box office personify the great qualities of loyalty and community; reminding us that we’re all sharing this world and need to feel compassion for those less fortunate than ourselves. Everyone needs help and we should be offering it to all, even if they aren’t all as cute and innocent as a dolphin or share the qualities we most admire in a charming lion cub destined to be king.
The Dow Jones squeaked out a 1.3% gain for the week but ended September with a drop of over 2% after starting out with two gains on optimism over European “action” on their sovereign debt issues. If we are entering an era of world-wide debt contagion, what does the average person do? Retreat to the movies and ignore all this political ineptness and obscure financial problems. Go swim with the dolphins. Embrace the circle of life. Hug you family. What else can you do if we’re facing a worldwide depression? Don’t worry, we’ve seen it before and the movies helped us in the 1930s. Hollywood makes money matching movies to our moods and they will again, once they stop making useless crap like What’s Your Number?
The Super 8 Spielberg/JJ Abrams movie was a positive indicator of movie mood, as reflected in the market’s 0.44% gain for the week despite the gloomy news out of Greece and other places. The economic reports were viewed as indicators that things weren’t as bad as some pundits are forecasting. So the market bounced off the support level. We are still in dangerous correction territory and emotions are becoming the major factor in market action. Green Lantern opens this weekend and will not provide much reinforcement to those looking for optimism in our future. It is just another costumed superhero going through the same damn world-ending crisis. Enough already.
From the MarketBOB Long Wave Chart below, you can see the downturn in the DOW which started with the release of Fast Five is fast approaching the support trend line for this bear market rally. As more and more economic signals indicate a weakening recovery, it is being reflected in the box office signals that our “get rich quick by breaking all the rules” stories are reminding audiences were still in the “hangover” phase of our last real estate bubble.
MarketBOB Long Wave Turning Point June 2011?
Now, with X-Men: First Class taking over the top spot and extending the box office bearish signal, we shall see how the emotional sentiment of being manipulated by governments and super powered egos plays out in the markets.
For more details on the MarketBOB long wave and our emotional box office signals, check out the blog page on Markets and Depression and my book Movies We Love in Times of Depression.
Enjoy the movies and the markets…
Have you ever wondered why you follow a crowd, herd together with other groups and act without “thinking”? A new book: “The Hidden Brain: How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars, and Save Our Lives” by Shankar Vedantam explores the unconscious mind we all have lurking under our rational, logical consciousness. It is the reptile survivor brain that seeks out the group actions and follows the clues to flee, stay or scream for help.
Our decisions are rooted in emotion, whether we admit it or not. Whether it is buying a stock or chasing an ambulance or ignoring that fire alarm, we are processing and reacting to the world around us on many levels, not all under our control.
Cool, fascinating work. See the excerpt on Scribd!