It took only a few weeks for a group of Reddit users to send GameStop’s stock soaring and throw Wall Street into a frenzy. It took even less time than that for Hollywood to decide to turn the ongoing story into a movie.
Following a bidding war, MGM acquired the rights to adapt Ben Mezrich’s GameStop book proposal, The Antisocial Network, Deadline reported. Mezrich previously wrote a book about Facebook’s founding, The Accidental Billionaires, which became the Oscar-winning 2010 film The Social Network. Early Facebook co-founders Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who were portrayed in The Social Network by actor Armie Hammer, will executive-produce the film based on Mezrich’s as-yet-unwritten book.
Buying the movie rights to a book proposal—not an actual book—is unusual, but it underscores how ready-made the GameStop saga is for Hollywood. It’s also further evidence of how quickly the film industry needs to move in order to secure potentially lucrative intellectual property nowadays.
GameStop’s stock price rose as much as 1,600% in January as retail investors on the WallStreetBets subreddit joined forces to lift up the struggling stock in partial retaliation against the hedge funds that had bet on the company’s demise. Trading of the stock was halted several times in the last week due to volatility, forcing the US Securities and Exchange Commission to announce they were closely monitoring the frenzy. One hedge fund, Melvin Capital, lost 53% of its assets, or $4.5 billion, according to the Financial Times.
Hollywood will now capitalize on the “David versus Goliath” theme inherent in amateur investors and internet trolls banding together to piss off billionaires. It’s unclear how much Wall Street will really be affected by the stunt in the longterm—but that it had any impact at all is a compelling story on its own. (Update: Netflix is now developing its own project based on the GameStop news, with Zero Dark Thirty scribe Mark Boal in talks to write the script, Deadline reported Feb. 1. That makes two GameStop movies—and counting!)
The GameStop saga is far from the first news story to get the Hollywood treatment while it was still developing. For instance, in 2016, director Steven Soderbergh signed on to direct a project based on a then-unpublished book about the Panama Papers, just a few months after the financial scandal first erupted. The project eventually became the 2019 Netflix movie The Laundromat. Fallout from that scandal is still dropping.
In older eras, Hollywood might have waited a few years for the GameStop story to become history (rather than ongoing news) before the industry put it on screen. But, today, amid fierce competition for eyeballs and an undying thirst for content, Hollywood was never going to wait to adapt a story as viral as the GameStop saga. News of its adaptation came so quickly that its translation to screen could conceivably be depicted in the movie itself.
This story was updated with news that Netflix is reportedly making its own GameStop movie, in addition to the one from MGM.