Trading Places royalties are a great investment (if you have 70K lying around)

If owning a piece of the movie Trading Places is a dream of yours, it’s now possible via auction.

One of the top-grossing films of 1983, Trading Places has since built an appreciative following as  a star-making vehicle for Eddie Murphy and a solid showcase for Dan Aykroyd in a prominent role. Now via Royalty Exchange, a site where the public can buy music and other entertainment rights, a piece of the classic comedy’s royalties are up for auction.

The listing shows the starting bid of $67,500, with the bidding increment set at $800. The rights money accumulates every time the movie is bought, broadcast, streamed or downloaded, with nearly $8,000 generated over the last 12 months.

Over the last 10 years, Trading Places has generated an average of about $10,500 per year, with a peak of over $14,600 in 2015 and a low just shy of $6,500 in the midst of the financial crisis.

The auction ends on Wednesday, with the first distribution for the buyer to come annually starting in October and span the “life of author plus 70 years.”

Royalty Exchange spokeswoman Hannah Schwartz, as expected, spoke to the appeal of owning a piece of Trading Places, citing its BAFTA awards and the fact it is “currently playing on IFC and is on (Amazon) Prime, and gets an extra yearly boost from being a perennially popular Christmas movie.”

The overall share of Trading Places residual rights up for sale seems to be pretty small, based on the broad popularity of the move. There is a bit of risk attached now too, since Aykroyd dons blackface during one scene with Murphy.

It’s unclear how high bidding has gone, but let’s say the winning bid winds up being toward a low-end of $70,700 (four bids from the starting point). Based on returns of the last year, that investment would be paid back and then some in less than a decade. A couple years toward the peak of past residual payouts would push that timetable up.

Residual payouts give performers a side income stream well after a show, movie, etc. was finished, so it’s a rare opportunity to buy those kind of rights. It would take a pretty serious fan of Trading Places to want a piece of the residuals for the movie. But it’s an investment that won’t go negative, if someone has close to $70,000 lying around and is at least willing to hang onto the rights until the initial purchase price comes back to them.