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Lights, camera… and a slice of the action

Lights, camera… and a slice of the action

A new exchange in the US offers a way to make money based on the success of movies. Kipp likes the idea, but can’t count on the movie-going public.

June 22, 2010 1:36 by

The National reports today on the creation of the “Trend Exchange.”

US authorities last week approved trading in projected box office takings for movies, in the same way financial traders speculate on the commodities market, the report says.

Essentially, you speculate on the success or failure of a film. So you could invest in Toy Story 3, and if the market thinks it will take $200 million in its opening weekend, you make money on everything it makes above that. If it doesn’t make the $200 million, you lose.

Leaving aside the potential negative impact on the industry (where a rival studio could bet heavily against a major release, for instance, ensuring bad word of mouth before its opening weekend), this could be fun. Kipp likes to think it knows a few things about film, so we could be tempted to invest.

Unfortunately, however, the system doesn’t insure against the general stupidity of much of the movie-going public. If Kipp was to base its investments on what it considers to be a largely solid judgment of film quality, we would have invested everything against Tomb Raider, a film so woeful we needed a shower after watching it to try to clean it off our skin. Total gross? $131,000,000.

What about the Hollywood disaster that was X-Men Wolverine? Kipp caught it on a plane, and thought it was diabolical. But it grossed over $180 million at last count.

And don’t even get us started about Pearl Harbor (almost $200 million).

No, the sad fact is that to make money on the exchange, you would have to bet against quality too often, and instead invest with the usual Hollywood tripe. Or sure-fire hits, as they are more often known. The interminable Transformers franchise (of which a third installment is on the way). The unnecessary, disappointing and truly confusing Pirates sequels (Pirates 4 in production). Anything from “McG” (Terminator Salvation, Charlie’s Angels, Charlie’s Angels Full Throttle).

Basically, films that inexplicably make money at the box office in spite of their quality, rather than because of it. And Kipp just couldn’t bring itself to earn money off that rubbish; it’ll only encourage the fools in Hollywood to make more. We’ll stick to restricting our investments to the odd DVD.

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