December 9, 2023

Dumb Money producer Aaron Ryder talked Saturday about why he wanted to bring to screen the story of GameStop’s short squeeze of 2021, a financial fluke that has gone down in history as a triumph for the little guy against the behemoths of Wall Street.

Speaking at Deadline’s Contenders Film Los Angeles event, Ryder revealed he had been inspired to make the film after tirelessly following the story in real time during lockdown.

“I went deep on it, trying to understand what the short was and to educate myself,” he told moderator Anthony D’Alessandro. “I got a call from MGM [where he has a production deal], who said, ‘We think there’s a movie here.’

“What we needed was a piece of IP. There was a lot of competition. I knew we had to be first [to option Ben Mezrich’s book The Antisocial Network]. Luckily, we were, and our next task was finding the right people to adapt this idea into a movie,” Ryder said.

RELATED: The Contenders Film: Los Angeles – Deadline’s Full Coverage

Enter Lauren Schumer Blum and Rebecca Angelo, two longtime financial journalists-turned-TV writers, for whom Dumb Money is their first movie after dozens of previous ideas that didn’t make it to screen.

Angelo said several of those ideas shared the same theme of social media-driven populism.

“That is one of the most important forces shaping the world today,” she said. “We’ve been working for years to develop a cinematic language that would make that experience visceral and connections emotional. We thought, ‘Finally, here’s our opportunity to deploy this skill set.’ ”

Schumer Blum added: “Our characters aren’t in the same room, they never meet. We had to dig into telling this story about this ensemble in a really fresh way.”

RELATED: ‘Dumb Money’ Review: Paul Dano Outsmarts Seth Rogen In Hilarious And Smart Movie On The GameStop Stock Phenomenon

This included putting on screen the actual TikTok clips that fueled the movement in real life. Said Angelo: “This is a movie about the people by the people. It felt right to put those TikToks in the film. Those little videos deserve to be in the film.”

Produced by Columbia Pictures, Stage 6 Films and Black Bear Pictures, Dumb Money stars Paul Dano as Keith Gill, the first analyst to notice that GameStop’s stock was falling in June 2020, leading to disruption across the financial system, huge consequences for certain hedge funds and losses for short sellers. Co-stars include Pete Davidson, Vincent D’Onofrio, America Ferrera and Seth Rogen.

RELATED: ‘Dumb Money’ Red Band Trailer & Photos: Paul Dano Games The System In Retelling Of Wild GameStop Stock Story

Ryder called the cast “an embarrassment of riches” with Dano signing on first – “they all wanted to be part of it because they all knew the story” – and also called out to Teddy Schwarzman at Black Bear Pictures for saving the movie with full financing, once MGM was acquired by Amazon in 2022.

RELATED: How ‘Nyad’ & ‘Dumb Money’ Producer Teddy Schwarzman Built Black Bear Into An Indie Studio To Be Reckoned With – The Deadline Interview

“Because you had these two giant corporations merging, it was never going to happen on the timeline we needed,” the producer said. “Amazon graciously let us find our own financing. Because of what the movie is about, it was important to have the movie financed independently, and then find the right home for it. That’s when Teddy stepped in, and he ended up fully financing the movie. Then, during prep, we found our partners at Sony.”

Check back Monday for the panel video.

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