Washington, DC - An entertainment industry coalition including creators, independent producers and distributors, business organizations and theater owners today praised a legislative provision that would prevent online motion picture box-office wagering.

The measure, contained in financial reform legislation unveiled today by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark) would bar futures trading based on box-office receipts. As Chairman of the Agriculture Committee, Senator Lincoln oversees the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

"As Congress moves forward with financial regulatory reform, we are very grateful to Chairman Lincoln for seeking to put a stop to plans to allow wagering on box-office futures, which are based on a faulty understanding of the film business and could cause real financial harm to both the film industry and other Americans drawn in by an online gaming platform that could be easily manipulated," the group said.

Earlier today, the Directors Guild of America (DGA), the Independent Film and Television Alliance (IFTA), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and its member companies and the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) urged the CFTC to deny a request from Cantor Futures Exchange L.P. to create a designated contract market for the trading of financial derivatives based on film futures.

The same coalition had earlier urged the CFTC to reject a separate proposal by Media Derivatives, Inc. (MDEX) to establish a designated contract marketplace. But the CFTC today approved that proposal, which was the first of two major regulatory steps needed before the company can conduct online wagering on film futures.

"Our coalition of film industry workers, creators, independent producers and distributors, business organizations and theater owners, remains united in our opposition to a risky plan that would be detrimental to the motion picture industry and the 2.4 million Americans whose livelihoods are based on this industry," the group said.

"We believe that the Commission has ample discretion under the law to reject this proposal by Media Derivatives Inc., so we are disappointed that the CFTC has said the company can establish a designated contract marketplace.

"But this is just one in a series of upcoming regulatory steps, including requirements to have prior approval from the CFTC before these questionable contracts can actually begin trading. We intend to continue to urge the CFTC to reject both the proposal from Media Derivatives to offer a box-office wagering service on its online marketplace, and a separate proposal that remains pending by Cantor Futures Exchange L.P. that would essentially allow real betting on what previously has been an online make-believe box-office gaming site.

"After the fiscal meltdown from which our country is still struggling to emerge, we have seen the danger of abusive financial practices. Now is the time to strengthen and stabilize our financial system, not the time to open the floodgates on an untested, and unwanted plan that could cause serious harm to an important American industry and its workers."

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04162010.jpgFirst off I apologize for the missing update yesterday. Computer and Twitter connection woes caused their share of issues. Maybe its all that volcanic ash...

Death At A Funeral finished the week with 1,621 tweets on Thursday. This gave it 4,966 tweets for the week, a ways above even my revised number of 4,750 from Tuesday's update. By comparison, Why Did I Get Married Too ended up with 5,925 tweets for its week before release which gave it a 480 ratio (thanks Chrestomanci), Our Family Wedding had 2,294 and a 918 ratio, while Cop Out had 2,815 and a 469 ratio. Really a massive number which bodes well for the film's chances. I'm going to bump its ratio up slightly to 600 to account for its higher capture of related tweets ("Death At A Funeral" as a search string captures almost all relevant tweets with little non-related tweets. Unique names are awesome). As such it should be looking at around ~$8 million for Friday and $23.7 million for the weekend.

Kick Ass wrapped up its week with a whopping 4,002 tweets on Thursday. This gave it 10,791 for the full week, in the ballpark of my estimated 10,000 to 11,000 from earlier this week. By comparison, Ninja Assassin had 9,718 tweets its week before release which afforded it a 1,714 ratio, and Hot Tub Time Machine had 8,122 and a 1,785 ratio. Couple points of note for both of these comparisons is that Ninja opened on a Wednesday which gave its week tweet tally a shot of NOS, and Hot Tub was just as popular as a punchline as it was for folks actually interested in seeing the films. At any rate I'm going to up my ratio estimate slightly here to 1,150 and predict a Friday gross of $9.5 million and $26.5 million for the full weekend.

Check back Saturday to see Friday's numbers and the actual Twitter ratios for the weekend and follow @AlexBOXOFFICE on Twitter for additional updates.

Twitter tracking history. (For 2009's ratio history please check here.)

alltweets040910.jpgThe ratio is the number of tweets per $1 million of Friday Box Office gross. A film with 1,000 tweets and a $10 million Friday would therefore have a ratio of 100. In general, films that appeal to very young or older audiences have lower ratios since those audiences are not big users of Twitter. By comparison, films that appeal to younger audiences (18-35) have much higher ratios since those audiences are much more active users of Twitter.

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Total tweets for April 16th Openers

Death At A Funeral had 1,214 tweets on Tuesday. By comparison, Why Did I Get Married Too had 1,178 tweets on its Tuesday before release, Our Family Wedding had 459 and Cop Out had 707. Another very solid return for the film which put its week tally north of 2,000 already. Considering my 575 ratio estimate and the fact that 4,750 tweets now seems assured we should see a Friday of around ~$8.0 million and $22.5 million for the weekend.

Kick Ass had 1,923 tweets on Tuesday, up from 1,743 tweets on Monday. By comparison, Ninja Assassin had 1,561 tweets its Tuesday before release, Hot Tub Time Machine had 1,744. Not as big of an increase as I would have expected which means it should come in at the low end of the week tally I gave yesterday, or somewhere around 10,000 to 11,000 tweets. With a ratio of around ~1,100 it should be in store for $9.75 million Friday opening and $26.5 million for the weekend.

Check back tomorrow to see the Wednesday numbers and more comparisons. Follow @AlexBOXOFFICE on Twitter for additional updates.

Twitter tracking history. (For 2009's ratio history please check here.)

alltweets040910.jpgThe ratio is the number of tweets per $1 million of Friday Box Office gross. A film with 1,000 tweets and a $10 million Friday would therefore have a ratio of 100. In general, films that appeal to very young or older audiences have lower ratios since those audiences are not big users of Twitter. By comparison, films that appeal to younger audiences (18-35) have much higher ratios since those audiences are much more active users of Twitter.

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CHICAGO -- Media Derivatives ("MDEX") is pleased to announce that it has received approval from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission ("CFTC") as a designated contract market. Media Derivatives will operate under the name The Trend Exchange ("TrendEx"). TrendEx is the first new exchange to offer innovative products that has been approved since 2004 and one of only 7 US based commodities exchanges. TrendEx is primarily focused on the development of a variety of products to benefit the entertainment industry with one if its initially proposed products being designed to help mitigate risk and enhance the successful financing of motion pictures through trading of opening weekend domestic box office receipts. TrendEx, like other CFTC approved exchanges, will consider other products to offer beyond those of just the media industry.

Founder and CEO Robert S. Swagger said The Trend Exchange welcomes collaboration from all segments of the entertainment industry in the development of market-based products that provide maximum risk management potential for the participants. Launch of the exchange's first products is anticipated in the third quarter.

"Like all Americans, we cherish the entertainment industry," Mr. Swagger said. "We believe that our products, designed in partnership with the broad industry constituency, will help better manage economic uncertainty and financial volatility, thus enhancing opportunities for success."

Mr. Swagger added: "The recent attention to our initially proposed product is normal and healthy. Historically, initial product skeptics have eventually become the greatest adopters through a process of time, education and communication that demonstrates the many benefits of futures market for the US Economy. Now that our exchange is approved, we will resume the work we've been doing throughout the entertainment industry."

By designing its products for institutional traders and commercial users, TrendEx intends to fulfill critical financing needs. Historically production companies have had no effective way to minimize the risk of producing major motion pictures, which cost on average $107 million per title.

"The Trend Exchange will fulfill this crucial risk-management need by utilizing the time-tested exchange-traded futures market model that has served agriculture, industry and commerce in America for nearly two centuries," Swagger said. "The regulatory review and oversight of the CFTC is rigorous - and necessary to inform and protect all participants in these markets. We look forward to working collaboratively with all parties to set the highest standards for these new risk-mitigation markets. Furthermore, we wish to thank the CFTC Chairman, Commissioners and staff for the countless hours of hard work and dedication throughout this process."

The Trend Exchange is privately funded by Veriana (www.veriana.com ) and is in discussions with several key industry participants regarding what it deems as possible strategic partnerships. The company's directors and advisors include prominent members of the entertainment and financial services industries. In addition, the exchange's senior management is comprised of many well known professionals from the Chicago futures and options exchange community. The Trend Exchange's corporate offices are located in Scottsdale, AZ with exchange operations office in Chicago.


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Dallas, TX -- Former Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Group President, Mark Zoradi will join the Board of Directors of newly formed Rave Cinemas, LLC, now the United States' fifth largest theater exhibition chain.

Mark Zoradi's 30-year career at Disney spanned the television, home entertainment and film businesses. He began in 1980 as marketing manager for Walt Disney Home Video during the beginning of the home entertainment boom. From there he moved into television as marketing director for the Disney Channel, also in its early development at the time.

In 1985, Zoradi entered the motion picture business as director of sales for Buena Vista Pictures Distribution. With his combined media experience, next he was named vice president and general manager of Buena Vista Television (BVTV). From 1987 to 1992, he led the rapid growth of this business unit and was responsible for ad sales (which generated $100M in the first year), finance, administration and operations. He was also instrumental in the launch of a two-hour syndicated animation block called "The Disney Afternoon."

In 1992 he was hand-selected from BVTV to set up a stand-alone international theatrical marketing and distribution organization named Buena Vista International (BVI). Under his leadership as president, BVI shattered records by earning more than $1 billion at the international box office for 12 consecutive years, generating $16.8 billion from 1995-2006. From 2007 to early 2010 he spearheaded the worldwide Disney Marketing and Distribution teams which were responsible for such hits as Pirates of the Caribbean, The Chronicles of Narnia, Ratatouille, and UP.

Thomas W. Stephenson, Jr., President and CEO of Rave Motion Pictures remarked, "Rave is extremely fortunate to have Mark Zoradi join the board of our newly formed company. His long career at Disney and experience in all facets of the entertainment industry will provide valuable insight and counsel. His track record as a leader and innovator will be invaluable as we move forward."

Mark Zoradi commented, "I am so pleased to be joining the board of Rave Cinemas and serve with the TowerBrook partners, Chairman Charley Moss, and our CEO Tom Stephenson and his team. The new entity is well positioned within the exhibition community to excel in providing the best cinema-going experience to movie audiences. My longtime experience on the studio side of the business will be a complement to the existing team."

Zoradi holds an MBA in Marketing and Finance from UCLA's Graduate School of Management and a BA in Economics and Sociology from Westmont College. He is a member of the following organizations: Board of Trustees at Westmount College; Board of Directors of Providence St. Joseph Medical Center and Los Angeles Regional Young Life.

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