Hocking Hollywood

Wall Street

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is currently considering a request by a firm called TrendEx to establish a market for the trading of futures based on the box office performance of motion pictures. The Commission will decide on the contours of this proposal and whether to allow the trading of futures contracts based on box office receipts by June 7, 2010. For those who may be unfamiliar, commodity futures trading essentially allows participants to “bet” on the future price of commodities, like pork bellies and oranges (à la Trading Places with Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd). The proposal is to do the same with the future ticket sale performance of films.

As part of the testimony in favor of this proposal, the proponents may want to seek out the assistance of Gordon Gekko, the financial whiz played by Michael Douglas from the film Wall Street, to make their case. If they did, his speech might go something like this:

Gordon Gekko
Addresses the Commodity Futures
Trading Commission

On the Proposal to Create a Trading Exchange on Box Office Receipts

Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street.
Photo © Twentieth Century Fox Pictures 1967

[After listening to Gordon Gekko speak in support of this proposal (see the Politi-Flix column on the Democratic flip side of this State Assembly edition of The Colorado Statesman):]

Well, I appreciate the opportunity you’re giving me, Mr. Chairman, as the single largest beneficiary of this proposal, to speak.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, unlike Hollywood, we’re not here to indulge in fantasy, but in political and economic reality. Hollywood, Hollywood has become a second-rate power. Its quality deficit and its patron deficit are at nightmare proportions. Now, in the days of the free market, when Hollywood was a top industrial power, there was entertainment to the ticketholder. The Columbias, the Metro-Goldwyn Mayers, the men that built this great Hollywood empire, made sure of it because it was their money at stake. Today, the audience has no stake in the company!

All together, these Hollywood moguls sitting up in L.A. gamble less than 3 percent of the box office. And where do they put their million-dollar investments? Not in the product; they use less than 1 percent.

The American people should own Hollywood. That’s right — you, the viewer.

And you are all being royally screwed over by these, these bureaucrats, with their steak lunches, their hunting and fishing trips, their corporate jets and golden parachutes.

Hollywood, Mr. Chairman, Hollywood has 33 different vice presidents, each earning over $200 million a year. Now, I have spent the last two months analyzing what all these guys do, and I still can’t figure it out. One thing I do know is that our citizens lost $110 million last year shelling out for tickets at the box office, and I’ll bet that half of that was spent on popcorn, soda, candy and cell phone calls going back and forth between the audience members commenting on what they were witnessing on the screen.

The new law of evolution in corporate Hollywood seems to be survival of the un-market. Well, in my book you either do it right or you get eliminated.

In the last seven movies that I’ve been involved with, there were $2.5 million in losses and many ticketholders who could have made a pretax profit of $12 billion — if they had the opportunity to buy futures contracts on these turkeys under this sound proposal.

Thank you.

I am not a destroyer of economies. I am a liberator of them!

The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed — for lack of a better word — is good.

Greed is right.

Greed works.

Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.

Greed, in all of its forms — greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, futures contracts on box office receipts — has marked the upward surge of mankind.

And greed — you mark my words — will not only save Hollywood, but that other malfunctioning corporation called Wall Street.

Thank you very much.

[Of course, Gordon Gekko never made this presentation before the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. To hear what the opponents of this proposal had to say, flip over to the Democratic side of this special State Assembly edition of The Colorado Statesman.]

Colorado Statesman film critic Doug Young is doing double duty this week as he reviews this film from both the Republican and Democratic perspectives.