Selling Out Hollywood

I recently rediscovered HSX: Hollywood Stock Exchange (a game started in 1996, now owned by Cantor Fitzgerald). I made my millions back in the late 1990's, when everything was being greenlighted and all you had to do was speculate. Nowadays it's a little harder. For example, my massive purchase of Trick Monkey in 2001 didn't do so well. This description may explain why:
Robert De Niro produces and may star in the true-life story of magician David Blaine in Trick Monkey. As a young street magician, Blaine is torned between the pursuit of his calling for financial success or for the sake of art. His influential mentor believes in the importance of magic as an artform not be taken advantage of. However, the young magician is thrust into confusion when he realizes how much money can be made.

What was I thinking? I lost more than H$200,000 on that one (you start off with H$2,000,000). I'm going to have take comfort in Motherless Brooklyn: "a film that follows a detective who suffers from Tourette's Syndrome, and who must solve the murder of his mentor. The film is based upon the novel by Jonathan Lethem, who sold the story rights to New Line for a high six figures. To date, no director has been attached to the project." Yeah... H$110G, baby! Not that I particularly want to watch that one either, but hey, it was undervalued.

Even more fun is "shorting", where you invest in a movie's demise. If you think the stock's price reflects more than the movie is going to make, you can short it, and profit if it falls short. If it does well, of course, you're in trouble. I tried shorting "National Treasure 2", but that actually seems to be a non-empty threat. Sorry, America, I tried...

And last but not least, there are options. I made a few bets on the Oscars (mostly long shots like Clooney for best Director), which would have paid off big if they won. But it was not to be... D'oh!

One fascinating thing about HSX is that its market seems to do a better job on the whole at predicting the box office than industry experts. That could be why they call their movies section the "Movies Prediction Market". More to the point, that could be why they started a parallel website called HSX Research, which looks to make serious cash on advice based on the HSX market. Anyway, it's a pretty crazy story of how a cute game can become something much more than anyone expected. And it's a great way to see (and speculate on) what's coming down the pike in Hollywood. Crap. But you didn't need HSX to tell you that.


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