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Update: Back to the Futures!

Back in late April we wrote about the future of Box Office Futures, especially in terms of the grandiose plans by two investment firms to open their own Futures Exchanges based on Box Office Futures Contracts. At the time, Hollywood was only just  beginning to chime in with its opposition, and has done so loudly and constantly ever since via its studios, labor unions, guilds and the Motion Picture Association of America. The end result has been draft legislation by the Senate Agriculture Committee, which has statutory control of  futures, that will ban the sale of box office derivative financial contracts, or B.O. futures.

The two financial firms involved, Cantor Fitzgerald of New York and Veriana’s  ‘Media Derivatives’ of Indiana, have lobbied hard for their plans, but they are seen as fighting an uphill battle against Hollywood’s well-oiled influence machine. But there may be hope yet in (and for) their futures: earlier this month, the Federal Commodities and Futures Trading Commission approved the first ever Box Office contract, for Sony Pictures’ Screen Gems release “Takers,” which opens August 20th. Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, remains adamant that a ban inserted in pending legislation will stop any B.O. futures trading. In spite of this (or perhaps because of it), Veriana topper Robert Swagger has stated that its planned exchange, called Trend Exchange, should be allowed to sell futures based on “Takers” because that contract received federal approval prior to any ban being officially enacted, thus it should be ‘grandfathered in’ even if a bill including a ban on selling futures is signed into law by the President.

 

It’s a sneaky – and not altogether unsound – argument. While the Senate version of the financial reform bill features a ban on Box Office futures trading, the House version does not, and the two versions must be reconciled before passing to the President. So perhaps the Trend Exchange has a chance. But don’t count Hollywood out. After all, when the chips are down and things are looking grim, Hollywood has a habit of having the cavalry ride to the rescue…

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