With summer blockbusters playing in movie theaters, it's hard to imagine that plots about Wall Street's role in the financial crisis will be a hot ticket. But there are several Wall Street movies in the works suggesting that screenwriters are attempting to bring the behind-the-scenes drama of the financial crisis to the silver screen and cash in on the psychological plot twists.On Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Goldman Sachs has hired the filmmaker Ric Burns to film a documentary about the Wall Street firm. The filmmaker and his brother Ken Burns created the PBS series "The Civil War."
According to the WSJ's story, Goldman Sachs is financing the film, has editorial control and is overseeing the project through its marketing department. Burns who reportedly has been working on the project on and off since 2007, according to the WSJ's reporter Suzanne Craig, has interviewed past and present Goldman employees and Goldman's CEO Lloyd Blankfein is likely to appear in the firm. However, the documentary is for Goldman employees, only, according to the WSJ, so unless the documentary runs on Youtube.com, the public may not see it.
While Wall Street firms may feel they haven't been portrayed fairly in the media, it's understandable that they might want to take matters into their own hands. By creating a documentary, a firm can leave a legacy of its history in capitalism that frames the entire period to counteract the intense media coverage and the $550 million SEC settlement that has tarnished its reputation.
But Goldman's documentary is not the only Wall Street film project underway. Actor Kevin Spacey recently began shooting an independent film, Margin Call, about the first 24 hours of the global financial crisis. Spacey who plays the role of a veteran trader, is sympathetic to the plight of the traders who had knowledge that the whole house of cards were about to fail, that relationships were shifting and couldn't even speak to their wives about it. "I am trying to humanize bankers," he told the New York Times. "Everyone talks about facts, figures and debt. I was more interested in what they were feeling."
Spacey reportedly prepared for the role by reading the book Too Big to Fail, digging up old newspaper articles about the financial crisis, former Wall Street traders and reading old Alan Greenspan speeches. He was rehearsing for the film in a recreated Midtown Manhattan trading floor on the 42nd floor of One Penn Plaza. But the greatest insights came from speaking with former Wall Street traders, Spacey told the New York Times.
One movie that's already received a lot of attention is the Oliver Stone movie Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps in which Michael Douglas reprises his role as Gordon Gekko, is due for a September 24th release.
Whether or not these films will be successful in arousing sympathy for investment bankers and traders who structured complex CDOs that nearly toppled the economy, is probably not the point. The point of the Hollywood movies is to make money and to entertain, but perhaps it will provide insight into the human condition and ethics behind the crisis, as fiction often does.
With summer blockbusters like the Sorcerer's Apprentice, The Last Airbender and Twilight Saga:Eclipse playing in theaters, it's hard to imagine that plots about Wall Street's role in the financial crisis will be a hot ticket. Ivy is Editor-at-Large for Advanced Trading and Wall Street & Technology. Ivy is responsible for writing in-depth feature articles, daily blogs and news articles with a focus on automated trading in the capital markets. As an industry expert, Ivy has reported on a myriad ... View Full Bio