Box-Office Futures Over Before They Began?

| by Hollywood Elsewhere

Wait a minute...what? I've been reading report after report about how the feds approved box-office futures last Monday and it was all good to go, and then wham -- it was revealed this morning that Cantor Fitzgerald, the chief proponent of box-office futures along with Media Derivatives, is folding the futures tent in the face of a "likely government ban on such trading."

L.A. Times staffer Ben Fritz reports that "with financial reform legislation that would outlaw trading in box-office futures headed toward final passage, the company is giving up on its plans, said Richard Jaycobs, the executive heading the effort for Cantor Fitzgerald. 'The broader opportunity of motion picture finance is still something we have to evaluate, but we know now we're not going to do futures contracts,' he said. 'The bill is quite clear.'"

Big-time Hollywood corporates have argued all along that a potential box-office futures markets could generate bad buzz for movies before they're released, plus they "would be too easy to manipulate," Fritz reports. "Backers have said they would be a useful financial tool for film investors.

"Jaycobs' decision is a major defeat for Cantor, which in 2001 acquired the Hollywood Stock Exchange -- an online game that lets players bet play money on box-office predictions -- to help prepare for its move into real box-office futures."

Maybe the studios will ease up now about circulating box-office tracking reports online and we can all go back to where things were before.