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12 Aug 2022 4:58
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  •   Home > News > Business > Features

    How Movies Help Investors

    Good investors don’t concentrate just on numbers but look for ideas and trends that might help them understand the economy and markets better.
    So, as odd as it may sound, a study of trends at the movie theatre can be useful to an investor.

    Investment Research Group
    Investment Research Group
    A recent article, adapted from a paper written many years by technical analyst Robert Precter of Elliott Wave International, does just that.

    The updated excerpt notes that this year's Academy Awards gave us movies about war (The Hurt Locker), football (The Blind Side), country music (Crazy Heart) and going native (Avatar), but a horror movie was not nominated.

    The last nomination was for Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in 2008, for art direction (which it won), costume design and best actor.

    Disregarding whether horror films win Academy Awards, movie trends are a useful reflection of how the general populace is feeling.

    Elliott Wave’s research shows that horror films are popular during bear markets, while upbeat, sweet-natured movies show up during bull markets. The lack of popular horror movies in the past year or more corresponds nicely with the strong upturn in equity markets over that time.

    Prechter’s paper, quoted extensively below, noted that while musicals, adventures, and comedies weave into the markets’ patterns, one particularly clear example of correlation with the stock market is provided by horror movies.

    Horror movies arrived upon the American scene in 1930-1933, the years US stock market collapsed.

    Five classic horror films were all produced in less than three years. Frankenstein and Dracula premiered in 1931, in the middle of the great bear market. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde played in 1932, the bear market bottom year and the only year that a horror film actor was ever granted an Oscar. The Mummy and King Kong hit the screen in 1933, during a second market downturn.

    These are the classic horror films of all time, along with the new breed in the 1970s, and they all sold big.

    For 13 years, lasting only slightly past the stock market bottom of 1942, films continued to feature Frankenstein monsters, vampires, werewolves and undead mummies.

    Shortly after the bull market in stocks resumed in 1942, films abandoned dark, foreboding horror in the most sure-fire way: by laughing at it. When Abbott and Costello met Frankenstein, horror had no power. That decade treated moviegoers to patriotic war films and love themes.

    The 1950s gave us sci-fi adventures in a celebration of man’s abilities; all the while, the bull market in stocks raged on.

    The early 1960s introduced exciting James Bond adventures and happy musicals. The milder horror styles of the bull market years and the limited extent of their popularity stand in stark contrast to those of the bear market years.

    Then a change hit. Just about the time the stock market was peaking, film makers became introspective, doubting and cynical. How far the change in cinematic mood had carried didn't become fully clear until 1969-1970, when Night of the Living Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre debuted. Just look at the chart of the Dow and you'll see the crash in mood that inspired those movies. The trend was set for the 1970s, as a wave of slice-and-dice horror movies hit the screen.

    For now, people seem to be anticipating moderately good times ahead – but be prepared to move into cash when the next horror movie is a hit!

    © 2022 David McEwen, NZCity

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