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September 27, 2021

Why the timing of Wall Street 2 may be all wrong

The timing all seemed right for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

In sequel-ing his 1987 hit film, writer/director Oliver Stone had nothing but topical headlines surrounding the release of the story’s second act, which hit theatres last Friday. The U.S. “officially” announced it was free from the recession just that week, and from the personal tragedy/PR goldmine files, Michael Douglas was forced to reveal he had developed throat cancer as the movie’s cast were making its press rounds for the movie.

So, unless the movie is an Alexander -like dud in quality, sounds like a recipe for success, right? Maybe. Yet perhaps Stone has overlooked one thing regarding the movie-going public: their interest in jobs, above all else.

Now, here’s where you say, This guy is a moron. Money Never Sleeps was tops at the box office its debut weekend. What is he talking about?

And maybe you’re right. Certainly, the original Wall Street  was terrific, and the sheer mix of Stone/Douglas/Shia LaBeouf/Josh Brolin, a revisiting of one of the all-time great movie characters and a high-profile release should be a recipe for box office treasure, critics be damned.

But you also must concede there’s some merit to the opinions of writers like Bloomberg’s Michael White, who argue the general public has moved on from its disdain for greedy CEOs and no longer seek justice for their sins – instead choosing to focus on when and how they’ll finally get some job security.

Indeed, as the U.S. unemployment rate hovers around 10 per cent (and Canada’s, too, is rising again), perhaps the timing isn’t so precise after all for Stone’s sequel, which hinges on Douglas’ shamed Gordon Gekko and his bid to oust a controversial hedge fund manager (Brolin) as a crooked banker.

“The public in general has a very short memory,” a UCLA economics professor tells Bloomberg about how the Wall Street  sequel might be received. “More concern has shift from bankers to what appears to be chronic problems in the economy and political leaders.”

While Money Never Sleeps  may never totally be a dud despite theatre-goers’ economic outlook, it may have already underperformed. While its $19 million haul in weekend one was tops this week, it had little competition from Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole  and The Town, which was great, though is in its second week out and isn’t the kind of Harry Potter -type film in a series designed to rake in movie receipts.

In fact, $19 million was actually down from the Wall Street  sequel’s projected forecast of $23 million, a figure it fell almost 20 per cent short of.

Defenders of Money Never Sleeps  will say it’s a movie for adults, and initial movie receipts aren’t a fair gauge of such films; adults, film insiders maintain, aren’t the type to rush out to see a movie its first weekend out. They will come with time.

Yet maybe there is some fire to the smoke Bloomberg’s White is trying to light. Maybe people don’t want to hear about greedy executives and their crimes any longer. Maybe they just want to go back to work.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...