MPAA Wants To Block Box Office Prediction Gambling

By Josh Tyler 2010-03-25 17:38:18discussion comments
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There was a time when the MPAA served as a ratings board, responsible for helping parents select which movies to take their children to. These days though, they’re primarily in the business of killing your fun. They’re the sober guy at a college frat party, the guy who keeps saying “I don’t need to drink to have a good time. I’m high on life!” while you pass around the beer bong. Next on the MPAA’s list of ways to ruin your good times: box office prediction.

Box office prediction games are nothing new. Sites like Hollywood Stock Exchange let movie fans compete against each other to see who can most accurately predict box office results. It’s fun. So it sort of makes sense that someone might want to take that fun even further. Two companies, the Trend Exchange and the Cantor Exchange plan to let people put their money where their industry aptitude is by letting them gamble on box office results.

For your average movie geek, that probably sounds like a good idea. We can’t bet on college football, we’re too busy watching the latest Tarantino film. When it comes to the stock market, everything we know about it was learned from Wall Street. For nerds, movies are a sport, a pursuit, an obsession. Till now though, it hasn’t been a very profitable one. Gambling on them then, is the next logical, and potentially fun step. Maybe it’s even a way to finally put all that useless knowledge in your head to work earning a book. Best of all, they’re couching this endeavor as “futures trading” which would make it as legal as buying and selling stocks. So of course the MPAA plans to put a stop to it.

Variety says the MPAA has come out in opposition to Trade Exchange and Cantor Exchange’s plans. In their letter they say, “the reputation and integrity of our industry could be tarnished by allowing trading in movie futures contracts in a manner which allows them to be viewed as the economic equivalent of legalized gambling on movie receipts. We can see no public purpose in allowing these contracts to be the subject of interstate commerce.”

Alright, I can see that point of view. I still want to gamble on box office numbers, legally, but I can see where they’re coming from. Or at least I could until they went here: “Anyone who has followed the meltdown of the financial markets, and the pain this caused people throughout America, knows how important it is to ensure that the establishment of new financial marketplaces does not open the door to rampant speculation and financial irresponsibility.” Playing the economic meltdown card is kind of like bringing Hitler comparisons into an argument. Not cool MPAA. Since when is this any of your business anyway? Get back to imprisoning 80-year-old grandmas for downloading music, or crushing the hopes of and dreams of talented filmmakers by slapping their films with an NC-17.
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