Want to make some serious money predicting box office opening weekend results? Now you can, at via stock exchange. The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission approved a contract with the new Trend Exchange that allow traders to bet on a movie’s opening weekend gross. While a new revenue stream is always nice, there could be some serious downside to this.
There has been a lot of opposition to betting on future box-office receipts within the film industry, most prominently from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), as it could actually hurt box office performance. This could also have a serious affect on the viral trends of new releases. Anyone with a stake in the exchange could manipulate word of mouth and other viral marketing of films if they had enough influence. As the L.A. Times writes:
In a follow-up interview, [Bart] Chilton [a dissenting commissioner] added that he was particularly concerned about the ability of studios to manipulate the price of a future through marketing and other decisions, which he said was very different from existing futures contracts related to agriculture and other products.
I would imagine this would bring a lot more pressure for hyped films to perform well, which only seems to make matters worse for a fickle industry. I don’t have a business degree, so some of the details on this fly over my head, but this is obviously a hotly debated issue. What do you think?