WASHINGTON — People who finance movies have come up with a way to make money even when a film goes bust. But before investors can trade future box office receipts like soybeans and corn, the federal government must give its blessing.

On Wednesday, the government’s top commodities regulators were not yet sold on the idea of creating new trading exchanges to follow the ups and downs of Hollywood.

Regulators said they must first determine if the concept meets legal requirements, how they would monitor trading and potential manipulation, and whether it would benefit the industry.

“I think it is pretty cool,” said Bart Chilton, a member of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, said about the idea of a Hollywood exchange. “But I’m not sure that cool means a business.”

Moviemaking is a business and like all businesses is not immune to economic conditions. Creating an exchange to hedge against big-budget flops would help generate new capital for the industry. Investor groups that put up the money for films are making the case for the exchanges.

It also could be used for speculation.

Major Hollywood studios strongly oppose the idea. They say rival studios could sabotage films by betting against them. A studio could bet against their own movie, knowing it will lose money. Some even worry that the kind of complex trading that crushed the housing market could someday do the same to their industry.

“We don’t want to repeat in our industry what happened in the mortgage industry,” Robert Pisano, the acting CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, told commissioners. The proposed futures market “is a nightmare to try to control the use of inside information.”


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