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Hollywood loves a based-on-a-true-story underdog epic.
So it's no surprise there are reportedly already three projects being rushed into development based on the GameStop short squeeze rebellion — a story that exploded just one week ago. There's an MGM movie in development from author Ben Mezrich (Bitcoin Billionaires) based on a pitch titled The Antisocial Network, another in the works from Netflix written by Mark Boal (Zero Dark Thirty) with Noah Centineo (The Fosters) attached to star, and a third from a new company that's described as a limited series titled To the Moon.
One suspects that one of these three will perform quite well. Another not so much. And the third will likely get shelved along the way. Two competing projects on similar topics have often received wide distribution (Steve Jobs docudramas, Fyre Fest documentaries, killer asteroid movies...), but a trio is pushing it.
But more the point, as my EW colleague Marcus Jones pointed out on Slack: Three projects and nobody even knows the ending yet.
That would seem to a pretty big problem. Any tale needs a strong third act. Don't all these companies need to know where this drama is headed first?
In this case, probably not. The first two acts are undeniably terrific: A gang of young Redditors, their upbringings marked by the 2008 recession (and subsequent Wall Street bailouts), have their own uniquely aggressive subculture, where they drive up the value of GameStop to an incredible $23 billion in part to make some gains ... but also to stick it to the titans of Wall Street who are accustomed to manipulating the investment game in their own favor. The movement explodes into a phenomenon, and there's high-stakes cat-and-mouse play-by-play between the retail investors and the hedge fund fat cats, while the media, tech titans (let's fan-cast Elon Musk!), and politicians play supporting roles. Expect lots of voiceover, montages, and memes. (My personal favorite trailer-worthy quote was this declaration by one of the WallStreetBets moderators: "They hate that you played by the rules and still won" ... eat your heart out, Aaron Sorkin).
And the ending probably isn't too hard to predict.
Spoiler alert: It's few rich, more broke.
While some on both sides of the political spectrum say all this drama means modern investing is flawed and must be fixed somehow with regulation, one suspects there's going to be some self-corrective hard lessons for both the elite hedge funds and many of the scrappy retail speculators alike — because that's what the market usually does when it's treated more like a casino than approached with a cautious desire to invest in worthwhile companies.
And here's one bit of foreshadowing — a cold open flashback, if you will — that the media reports have been missing: When the COVID-19 pandemic reached the U.S. in late February, and the market crashed, the Dow plummeting 37 percent in less than a month, WSB had a different focus than trying to pump up '90s nostalgia brands like GameStop, Blackberry and AMC. Many members were shorting the S&P 500 or individual stocks, such as airlines and cruise ships. Such moves are arguably just as cynical and opportunistic as the ones made by the ready-made villains at the hedge funds they're now targeting. Then the market suddenly reversed and spiked to record highs and some on WSB who were betting on further declines suffered devastating losses (to the tune of the Fed's money printer going brrr).
Longtime observers of WSB know the subreddit's flashmob momentum-jumping tactics can work… but only sometimes… and until it doesn't.
Hollywood loves stories where the underdog wins. Just remember, it loves tragedies too.