Two film futures exchanges are coming soon to a stock market near you. I can’t decide what to make of it, but I think this is something to watch.
If you’re like me, you’re probably aware there are “corn futures” and “wheat futures” and it all has something to do with the stock market, but you don’t understand it in any detail. The upshot seems to be that by purchasing or selling (shorting) futures on particular films, you’re betting the film will or won’t make money. And the sales of these futures would go to finance movie-making. Futures helped farmers mitigate losses and fund all the work that happens before you even get a crop to take to market. The folks involved in this hope that film futures will spread out some of the financial risk that goes into making every single film. And that risk is substantial, even in the least expensive films. (Which is why if you ever, ever, ever comment on this website that women should either start making their own movies or stop complaining about what’s out there, I will ban you so fast your head will spin. We don’t all have even the $77k it cost to make Blair Witch Project ten years ago laying around, trust fund asshat.)
While futures have kept farming profitable, or at least alive:
The bigger question, however, is whether Cantor and Veriana can persuade professionals in the insular entertainment business to adopt the type of complex financial tool that, as evidenced by the recent mortgage meltdown, doesn’t always work smoothly.
Film executives not seeing the smart money when it requires them to adapt? Oh, how could that happen? And how could that happen again? And again? And again? And has there ever been a better time to experiment with making movies for the new 55% demographic – women?
An interesting note from the above-linked article:
The surge of private equity money into the movie business a few years back has dried up because returns were uneven and often lower than promised.
So financiers are finally discovering what people like William Goldman figured out a long time ago: Hollywood doesn’t know what makes a successful film. They just know how to sound like they do, and how to sabotage and explain away successes that don’t fit the mold. They have a vested interest in that.
I dunno. Seems to me film futures could strip away the last layer of resistance to adaptation. The film industry has really enjoyed doing exactly the same damn thing every day for thirty years and getting huge returns for it. We all knew it would take a major financial blow to the industry to get them even to consider that maybe the audience is changing and the industry has to change with us or die. I’m not too hopeful anyone’s thinking will really change – I’ve studied human psychology a bit – but, hey, the Baby Boomers have to retire eventually, and maybe that’ll shake up the demographics of the industry thinkers. I’m not putting down the Boomers – sexism exists in younger generations, too, including mine – but I don’t think growing up in an era where female CEOs, lawmakers, etc. barely existed did them any favors in terms of seeing women as equal fellow human beings.