The Motion Pictures Association of America looks like it got what it wanted: a final nail in the coffin of those who would start up a movies future business.
A House-Senate conference committee on Friday approved a ban on such trading. Two principal companies -- Cantor Exchange and Media Derivatives' Trend Exchange -- were seeking to start up box-office futures trading ventures. Instead, a wide-ranging bill that President Obama is eager to sign before July 4 will put the kibosh on that idea.
But the ban isn't really about financial gambling. It's really a ban on information that perhaps the movie-going public should be allowed to have, consumers who already pay higher and higher prices for movie tickets: $11, $12 and more.
The MPAA was worried that that savvy investors or other executives with grudges, those who hate particular projects, actors, or directors, would do damage to theatrical movies if such trading were allowed.
But there are plenty of bad movies out there to do their own damage. Tom Cruise's latest with Cameron Diaz, for example, "Knight and Day," fell asleep with only $3.8 million for its Wednesday opening. Despite a very heavy marketing campaign, critics were lukewarm about the movie, at best.
A couple of weeks ago Lions Gate's "Killers," starring Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher, wasn't screened beforehand for critics. That's always a telltale sign the studio isn't confident. Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie a very low 12% score -- meaning 12% of all critics' reviews were positive. The film did $16 million in its first week (somewhat decent) -- and then collapsed, with just $42 million U.S. domestic gross so far.
If movie studios are so secure about their product, maybe they'll just release all that NRG trending consumer research data they monitor every day for six weeks before a movie is released -- and let the public decide.
High-awareness levels by consumers, but low "intent" or "first choice" for actually viewing the movie? Maybe that's not a film I want to see.
Would a movie futures index help or hurt people in their decisions -- especially movies where there are only fast-moving, very select scenes in TV trailers to consider?
I'll decide on the value of that data. I vote for more information.