As if there weren't already enough ways to lose money in the markets - think derivatives, stocks, bonds, sub-prime mortgages, "too big to fail" banks and all that other Wall Street stuff - there's now a way to do it with all the glamour of a Hollywood premier.
Cantor Fitzgerald, which offers traditional financial services such as bond trading and investment banking, is poised to launch Cantor Exchange, a Web site where registered users may bet on the future box office performance of films such as "The Hurt Locker," "Inglourious Basterds" and James Cameron's mega smash "Avatar."
"People love movies, and this is a way for them to profit from what they know," Melanie Gordon-Felsman, a Cantor spokeswoman, told Reuters. "Let's say you love 'Avatar,' and you loved 'Titanic,' and (director) James Cameron's coming out with his next movie -- so you want to get in the game."
Modeled after Cantor's Hollywood Stock Exchange, in which "visitors buy and sell virtual shares of celebrities and movies with a currency called the Hollywood Dollar," Cantor Exchange ups the stakes. The money's real, and you're betting on a film's future success or its failure. You may bet on a movie six month's before it's released. You get one-millionth of the film's gate from its first four weeks of release if its box office receipts beat a number that's been agreed on.
Imagine if you'd bet on "Avatar" to lose at the box office. You'd be hurting. If you bet on Sandra Bullock's enormous sleeper-hit "The Blind Side"? You'd be raking in the dough.
According to Cantor Exchange's Web site, they "are very pleased to announce that we expect to receive final regulatory approval by April 20, 2010, and will commence trading of Domestic Box Office Receipt (DBOR) Movie Futures shortly thereafter."