Last week’s news story about a group of amateur investors on Reddit helping to execute a “short squeeze” on the stock of the long-struggling retailer GameStop drew great interest, both from the general public and from Hollywood, which within days of the story already had two movies in the works about it.
But even if they didn’t understand the GameStop story, audiences also flocked to movies about finance that have already been made.
Reelgood, a site that measures streaming behaviors by tracking millions of streaming users, noticed that in the last week of January — the week that the GameStop story was in the news — streams skyrocketed for six different movies that deal with finance and Wall Street: Wall Street, The Wolf of Wall Street, Trading Places, Margin Call, The Big Short, and the documentary Inside Job.
The streams, a Reelgood spokesperson said, consist of streaming and VOD combined; “basically all 150+ subscription, ad-supported, TV everywhere, and TVOD/rent or buy platforms supported by Reelgood.”
The biggest winner was The Big Short which, per Reelgood, “enjoyed more than 10x the amount of its typical daily streams before the whole GameStop saga blew up,” measuring data on January 29 and 30. That makes sense – The Big Short, Adam McKay’s 2015 adaptation of Michael Lewis’ book about the group of investors who anticipated the collapse of the housing market in 2008, also dealt with both short-selling and a small group of people going against the Wall Street consensus when it came to a particular bet.
The second-highest was The Wolf of Wall Street, Martin Scorsese’s 2013 movie about the spectacularly corrupt brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont, which engaged in nearly cartoonish hedonism while participating in pump-and-dump schemes that some have compared to what happened with GameStop. That film got nearly seven times the number of normal streams at the end of last month.
Margin Call, J.C Chandor’s 2011 film that told the fictional story about the collapse of a Lehman Brothers-type firm, didn’t make a huge dent upon its release but has come to be more appreciated over time, especially now. Inside Job was nonfiction film that was also about the ’08 crisis.
John Landis’ Trading Places, from 1983, told a story of a couple of underdogs taking down the powerful — with frozen concentrated orange juice futures standing in for GameStop’s stock — that many involved with the Reddit campaign clearly felt they were emulating.
As for Oliver Stone’s 1988 Wall Street, it didn’t have much in common with the GameStop story, unless you subscribe to the notion that neither the Reddit guys nor the short-sellers were necessarily good guys, as that film’s protagonist and audience surrogate was… Charlie Sheen.
How can you watch these movies?
Trading Places is available on Starz’s streaming platform. Margin Call is on Peacock, while The Big Short was on Crackle, but appears to have dropped off the platform at some point. Inside Job is on something called Watch Documentaries. Neither Wall Street nor The Wolf of Wall Street is currently available to stream on any service, although both can be rented for $3.99 from multiple places.