In terms of topping the crazy events of the last year, 2021 is off to a great start. The same month which had a mob of Trump supporters storm the Capitol ended with a financial spectacle in which an internet forum sent ripples through the stock exchange.
The subreddit r/WallStreetBets contains a community of investors in which most are amateur but a decent amount have an obvious mind for finance. Beneath the meme-flooded pages of the forum, members were scheming to combine efforts into funneling large sums of money into shorted retailer stocks. The list of retailers that were caught in their crosshairs were AMC (AMCX), Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY), Tootsie Roll (TR), and the big daddy topic of this article, GameStop (GME).
During the fall and winter months of 2020, stock in GameStop was having an upswing with the addition of new management. WallStreetBets took this as their cue to unite their funds to inflate the price of GameStop that not only made the Reddit members wealthier, but also took a large sum of money away from hedge funds which were betting against the performance of the stock.
Short-selling the stock was an obvious choice for hedge fund managers. The business model of GameStop was becoming increasingly obsolete with digital game downloads becoming more commonplace. Since the stock was short-squeezed by WallStreetBets, the losses were enormous to the point where certain hedge funds lost billions of dollars and went bankrupt. All the while, people were sharing their Robinhood earnings on Reddit with some earning in the tens of thousands. In less than a month, GameStop went from costing about $20 per share to being in the ballpark of $500 per share.
The stock drama was then accentuated on January 28 when Robinhood began restricting the trading of the retailer stocks mentioned in the WallStreetBets subreddit. The stock trading app received furious condemnation from a wide range of internet users that saw this move as a deal in favor of the hedge funds over the independent investor. It’s like if the character Robin Hood listened to the Royal Guard and made it harder for the peasants to make a living.
Democrats and Republicans came together to call the trading restrictions unacceptable before devolving back to discourse. Elon Musk sent out a tweet and the stock price spikes again. The Southern District of New York filed a class action suit against Robinhood for alleged market manipulation. “Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!” as Dr. Peter Venkman would say.
The major pushback caused Robinhood to allow limited trading of the stocks on the next day, which allowed things to moderately calm down. There’s still drama over the situation but that was basically the height of it.
All of that happened in one week. And that one week has already had multiple movie rights sold.
Netflix is gearing up to adapt the real-time uproar on Wall Street into a film starring Noah Centineo from To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. In talks for the script is Mark Boal, the Academy Award winning screenwriter for The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. The intent behind the film is to showcase the idea that social media has allowed the people to challenge the status quo perpetuated by the upper class. The movie will also gloss over the influence of conservative social media sites on the right wing riot at the Capitol.
MGM has obtained the rights to the book proposal from New York Times best-selling author Ben Mezrich called The Antisocial Network. The novel and its film adaptation will chronicle the community on WallStreetBets and their financial actions that brought hedge funds to their knees. Ben Mezrich is best known for writing the book The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal which was adapted into the David Fincher film The Social Network.
The GameStop saga also has a TV series in the works. A newcoming production company named Pinky Promise is promptly starting the development of a limited series called To the Moon, a phrase associated with WallStreetBets. The series centers around two roommates who were recently let go from their day jobs and use their stimulus checks to get into day trading. Their actions then snowball into joining the Reddit brigade’s opposition to the fat cats on Wall Street.
It’s amazing to live in a world in which a movie adaptation can get to the public faster than a developed vaccine. There’s no telling how many more movies will be made about this story this year. There’s also no telling how many stories that happen this year will be worthy of a movie.