As the public is still trying to wrap their hands around the many financial instruments that assisted the Great Recession, Wall Street may soon include betting on the performance of new releases. According to CNN’s Wall Street’s next move: Betting on Hollywood, you may be able to purchase contracts allowing you to bet for or against a certain release’s performance.
Two specific exchanges are fighting to acquire the legal rights to run such exchanges. Cantor Exchange will allow traders to buy or sell contracts that predict a film’s performance during the first 24 days of release for as little as $50. In this type of contract, each dollar of a given contract is the equivalent of $1 million in box office revenue, and contracts are determined by an initial first-day auction.
Trend Exchange will allow the sale of contracts based on a film’s performance during only the opening weekend and requires a minimum of $5,000.
According to the article, “Proponents of the exchanges say that futures contracts can help Hollywood hedge its losses, essentially offering insurance that would allow risk to be defrayed to traders.” Just like how financial companies and hedge funds invented many of the financial instruments and then bet against those very instruments, Hollywood could, if they wanted to, bet against their own films.
Why someone would do this, I’m not sure. But most of Hollywood is run by executives looking to squeeze every dollar out of each new release. Just like the stock market, the film industry is filled with gossip, incorrect information and pure hype. Hype that CinemaFunk chooses to stray away from.
The article features quotes and ideas that this could benefit the film industry, however this is not putting capital into the filmmaker’s hands. This is pure gambling. Simple as that.
Cantor Fitzgerald, L.P already runs the highly successful HSX.com, which is a free Hollywood Stock Exchange where users can trade stars, movies and many other virtual securities in a “fair and orderly, supply-and-demand-based market”, according to their ‘About’ page. This same company now wants to legitimize the practice for their Cantor Exchange.
It may not happen just yet, however. Although the Commodities Futures Trading Commission approved the two exchanges, backlash from Hollywood and opposition from lawmakers appears to keep the possibility of a Hollywood Stock Exchange at 50-50.
It is surely interesting but not shocking to see Wall Street choosing to bet on the performance of new releases. But once again, the gross box office receipts do not reflect the quality of a film. Ever since they began releasing the weekend box office figures, Hollywood became a race to see who was number one for the weekend.