Big news, film (trading) fans!

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Are you a successful trader on the Hollywood Stock Exchange (aka HSX)?

Well, now you could potentially turn that expertise into cold, hard cash. Cantor Fitzgerald, the company that owns HSX, has announced a real-money equivalent, the Cantor Exchange. On it you’ll be able to trade “Movie Box Office Contracts.”

It was officially announced Monday, December 8th through press releases on the new CantorExchange website. To quote from the press releases:

Cantor Fitzgerald, L.P., a leading global financial services firm, announced today that it has filed an application with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) to launch the Cantor Exchange. Cantor Exchange intends to list Domestic Box Office Receipt contracts as the exchange’s first traded product.

[…]

Subject to final regulatory approval of the Cantor Exchange application, Domestic Box Office Receipt contracts will offer film finance professionals and traders a new opportunity to hedge and speculate on the theatrical performance (ticket sales) of major film titles. Domestic Box Office Receipt contracts will be a next generation financial management tool that allows film professionals to hedge risk and provides speculative opportunities to other market participants based on the first four weeks of a film’s box office performance.

The first Domestic Box Office Receipt contract is expected to be listed on the Cantor Exchange in the first quarter of 2009, subject to final approval of the Cantor Exchange application by the CFTC.

If you’re willing to sit through the video’s cheesy music on the site, you’ll find out that traders can get started with $50 in their account. It appears they’re pitching the buy-side (generally) for fans looking to share in the up-side and pitching the sell-side (generally) for investors and others looking to hedge their investment.

Each contract starts with a week-long auction to determine the starting price. Every 24 hours the exchange will publish the overall market price that would be achieved based on all the buy and sell orders entered. Before going to continuous trading, all buy/sell orders will be cleared at the single best market price.

Summary

I think this is great news, as it starts to push the boundaries of acceptance of futures (aka “prediction”) markets. I wish Alex and the rest of the team there all the best luck in the approval process and look forward to trading a bit there myself!

It should be interesting to hear what the mainstream press thinks of this development.