December 10, 2008
New crackpot investment opportunity!
Now that investors have been scared off from stocks, real estate, and the financial institutions that used to be the foundation of our economy, we need new and innovative investment products to help us incinerate our money.
Here's Cantor Fitzgerald, an investment firm whose primary credential seems to be that they haven't gone bankrupt yet, with a financial service I can actually sort of relate to: movie futures. Here's how this new scheme works. Six months before a new movie comes out, you place bets on how well you think it's going to do. If you think a movie will do better than the odds say (determined by the market) you buy a one-millionth share. Then if it does well, you get some cash! And if it doesn't do so well, you owe your bookie, Cantor Fitzgerald, more money.
This is great news for producers of really terrible movies that people have unreasonably high expectations for, because it will get lots of casual investors and movie fans to give them advance money for their box office bomb. A year ago, I would have definitely bet that Run Fatboy Run would have done really well, like it did in the UK. But it only did $6 million in the US, so I would have lost big. One the other side you've got Mamma Mia!, which might not have had the greatest expectations, but has made $560 million globally so far.
Apparently Cantor Fitzgerald first talked about creating a movie market 7 years ago, right before the company got almost completely wiped out on September 11. Better luck this time. They also own a virtual movie market, the Hollywood Stock Exchange, which for people like me is probably as good as the real thing.
Of course the first thing this scheme brings to mind is good old Bialystock and Bloom and their realization that you could make more money with a flop than a hit. "If he were certain the show would fail, a man could make a fortune!" Some unscrupulous movie producer out there could announce a movie that attracts tons of futures investors, then make sure it bombs. And someone will create some sort of alternative fund so contrary investors can bet against the market. If I could get into one of those, I'd go all in against the next movie Nicole Kidman makes.
Hopefully People and Variety will start running live odds.
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