Dumb Money: when is the film out, what’s it about and do Paul Dano and Seth Rogen play real people?

Dumb Money hero
Dumb Money hero

The real-life tale of hobbyist stock market investors taking on the biggest investment firms in the land arrives in cinemas shortly, with ‘Dumb Money’ detailing the real-life tale of the GameStop short squeeze that occurred in 2021. Based on the book, ‘The Antisocial Network,’ by Ben Mezrich, the story of the GameStop short squeeze was one that wasn’t simply relegated to the business sections of NationalWorld, but one that permeated popular culture through memes and the immortal phrase “to the moon,” - indicating a rise in stocks that were once bought at a low price.

GameStop, a prominent American chain of physical video game stores, encountered significant challenges in the years leading up to the short squeeze. These challenges included fierce competition from digital distribution services and the adverse economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in fewer in-person shoppers. Consequently, GameStop's stock price experienced a steady decline, prompting numerous institutional investors to engage in short selling of the stock.

However, a significant turning point occurred in mid-2019 when investor Michael Burry's Scion Asset Management acquired a 3.3-percent stake in GameStop. Burry penned a letter to the company's board of directors, shedding light on overlooked value within the company and encouraging them to repurchase shares.

[L-R] Keith Gill and Gabe Plotkin are portrayed in the film by (inset) Paul Dano and Seth Rogen (Credit: YouTube/Blackbear/Melvin Capital)
[L-R] Keith Gill and Gabe Plotkin are portrayed in the film by (inset) Paul Dano and Seth Rogen (Credit: YouTube/Blackbear/Melvin Capital)

This move hinted at the untapped potential in GameStop. Subsequently, in August 2020, Ryan Cohen, the former CEO of the online pet food retailer Chewy, disclosed a 9-percent investment in GameStop. Cohen's involvement led to a growing belief among investors that the stock was undervalued. The pivotal moment came in January 2021 when Cohen joined GameStop's board, sparking a significant surge in the stock's value.

This led to hobbyist sellers buying up stocks in GameStop while they were low, looking to “short” the market by selling once share prices had risen to an incredible amount; hence the idea of ‘to the moon’ and those willing to hold on for a length amount of time referred to as having ‘diamond hands.’ Those that wanted to sell much before? Well, they were called ‘paper hands’ - or ‘shills’ if they really irritated the online investment community.

What is ‘Dumb Money’ about?

“Everyday people flip the script on Wall Street and get rich by turning GameStop into one of the world's hottest companies. In the middle of everything is Keith Gill, a regular guy who starts it all by sinking his life savings into the stock.”

“When his social media posts start blowing up, so does his life and the lives of everyone following him. As a stock tip becomes a movement, everyone gets wealthy -- until the billionaires fight back and both sides find their worlds turned upside down.”

Are Paul Dano and Seth Rogen’s characters based on real people?

Indeed they do - in fact, Paul Dano and Seth Rogen’s characters are pivotal to the entire GameStop story.

Keith Gill, also known as "Roaring Kitty" on social media, is an individual known for his involvement in the GameStop stock saga that occurred in early 2021. Gill, a retail investor and former financial educator, gained significant attention for his investment in GameStop (GME) and for sharing his analysis and insights on Reddit's WallStreetBets forum. His investment in GME options and stock contributed to the short squeeze that led to a dramatic increase in GameStop's stock price. Gill's online presence and investment activities brought him into the spotlight during the stock market frenzy.

Gabe Plotkin is a prominent hedge fund manager and the founder of Melvin Capital Management. Melvin Capital is known for its short-selling strategies, and it became a central figure in the GameStop stock saga. Plotkin's hedge fund had a significant short position in GameStop, which led to substantial losses when the stock's price experienced a rapid and unexpected surge, largely driven by retail investors and social media-driven momentum. The GameStop saga, in which Melvin Capital faced significant losses, attracted widespread media attention and discussions about the dynamics between retail investors and institutional investors in financial markets.

Who else stars in ‘Dumb Money’?

The film has quite the all-star cast, including Nick Offerman, America Ferrera and Pete Davidson. The full main cast list, according to IMDB, is as follows:

  • Paul Dano as Keith Gill

  • Pete Davidson as Kevin Gill, Keith's brother

  • Vincent D'Onofrio as Steve Cohen

  • America Ferrera as Jennifer Campbell, a viewer of Keith's YouTube channel

  • Nick Offerman as Kenneth C. Griffin

  • Anthony Ramos as Marcus, a GameStop store clerk

  • Sebastian Stan as Vlad Tenev

  • Shailene Woodley as Caroline Gill, Keith's wife

  • Seth Rogen as Gabe Plotkin

  • Dane DeHaan as Marcus's boss

  • Myha'la Herrold as Riri, an investor with Marcus

  • Rushi Kota as Baiju Bhatt

  • Talia Ryder as Harmony, an investor with Marcus

What is the BBFC rating for ‘Dumb Money’?

‘Dumb Money’ has been rated 15 by the BBFC for strong language, sex references and drug misuse.

When is ‘Dumb Money’ released?

‘Dumb Money’ is released in UK cinemas on September 18 2023, followed by its release in the United States on September 29 2023 after a limited theatrical run from today.