Back in 1939, MGM took the movie world by storm with "The Wizard of Oz." The 1939 movie is about to catch fire again with an exclusive one week run in IMAX theaters and three television shows based on the epic tale.
The big winner
As I wrote back in June, "The Wizard of Oz" is coming to IMAX (NYSE: IMAX ) theaters beginning Sept. 20. The movie will show for one week to celebrate the film's 75th anniversary. For IMAX, the movie comes at the perfect time, as it represents the end of its fiscal quarter. The airing of the movie in the oversized destination theaters also illustrates how IMAX is boosting its lineup by showing older, beloved films.
IMAX has had previous success doing this with movies like "Jurassic Park," "Titanic," "Top Gun," and "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Recently, "Jurassic Park" made 32% of its opening weekend revenue on IMAX screens during its rerelease. This move is the latest from IMAX as it works on filling up its release schedule by showing old movies and boosting quarterly revenue. . The prospect of bringing back blockbuster classics could also boost international expansion with fuller release schedules for potential movie theater owners.
By showing "The Wizard of Oz" for one week in September, IMAX boosts a relatively weak quarter that had no blockbuster movies. To end the year, IMAX's fourth quarter will be strong with surefire blockbusters like "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" and "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." Shares of IMAX are closing in on fifty two week highs and for good reasons. The company's backlog and international expansion is incredibly strong. Investors should get into IMAX while the company is still growing.
Comcast is betting on television, movies, and Broadway
Perhaps the biggest company to watch in the "Wizard of Oz" revival is Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA ) . Through its new ownership of NBCUniversal, Comcast now has majority ownership of three "Wizard of Oz" related products.
NBC is bringing "Emerald City" to television. The show based off the popular movie is a darker reimagining of "The Wizard of Oz." In fact, the television show will use all 14 Frank Baum books about the land of Oz. The show uses the popular "Game of Thrones" to describe its darker undertones, which could increase the hype surrounding it. To me, this is the show that could be a home run. Darker themed shows like "Game of Thrones" and "Once Upon a Time" have done well on television; "Game of Thrones is averaging over 14 million viewers per episode, and "Once Upon a Time" has done so well it is getting a spin-off. .
Universal is also the majority owner of "Wicked," a Broadway musical. "Wicked" has grossed over $3 billion since it opened in 2003, which means the musical is on track to be the most profitable venture in Universal's long history. Universal has scored big on the musical, considering it bought the rights to the book years before the idea for a musical came up.
Universal is moving closer to bringing "Wicked" to the big screen. After the success of "Les Miserables" in theaters, Universal has moved the movie up and the new television shows and hype around the story should help move production along.
Through its acquisition of NBCUniversal, Comcast has boosted revenue nicely and built a path for future growth. In fiscal 2012, revenue increased 12% and earnings per share were up a staggering 52%. The company had the benefit of having television rights to a Super Bowl and Summer Olympics in that time period. NBCUniversal revenue of $23.8 billion saw nice increases of 27.4% and 124% in the broadcast and filmed segments, respectively.
CBS bets on The Wizard too
Along with "Emerald City," two other television shows are in the works. CBS (NYSE: CBS ) is bringing "Dorothy," a medical drama, to network television. The CW, which is 50% owned by CBS, is also taking a bet on "The Wizard of Oz" with a drama based on "Dorothy Must Die," a young adult novel.
"Dorothy Must Die" takes place 80 years after Dorothy first landed in Oz, here in the present day. A prequel book titled "No Place Like Oz" will be released in November and provide potential storylines for this show to live on for multiple seasons. The CW has had success with comic book-adapted shows like "Smallville" and "Arrow," and could find a nice audience looking for a unique take on "The Wizard of Oz." The CW continues to be one of the highest rated cable channels on television today. "Arrow" was the channel's highest rated debut in three years and beat many shows on regular broadcast television the same night with over 4 million viewers. CBS' joint venture continues to increase in value over the years.
"Dorothy" is a medical soap opera style television show based in New York City. The show is inspired by characters and themes from the 1939 epic movie. CBS is hoping both shows can be a success and help boost advertising and affiliate revenue. In the most recent week of television , CBS ranked second for total viewers and third for the coveted 18-49 age demographic. CBS has seen a boost to ratings with hit shows like "Under the Dome" and "Big Brother." In an ultra competitive broadcasting age, CBS appears to have scored with a direct hand on two "Wizard of Oz" projects.
In fiscal 2012, CBS revenue increased 3% to $14.1 billion. The company's entertainment arm, which includes the CBS channel, saw revenue of $7.7 billion. Cable networks posted revenue of $1.8 billion. Analysts on Yahoo Finance
see revenue growing over 5% in the current fiscal 2013 and only 2.5% in fiscal 2014. Perhaps one of these shows being a surprise success could boost analysts' targets and send shares higher.
There's no doubt about it--the 75th anniversary of "The Wizard of Oz" is shaping up to be a big one. Several media companies are benefiting from the original movie. With the huge popularity of the original 1939 movie, I think "The Wizard of Oz" will do quite well on IMAX screens and will show the power of rereleasing old movies. Comcast has huge potential with a darker television show and a Wicked movie still in its back pocket. Both of these stocks should be buys based on these factors. CBS bears watching as well, as the success of "Wizard of Oz" projects could have a marginal impact.
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