I was in Roy Thomson Hall on Friday night here in Toronto for the world premiere of Dumb Money, the very fun Craig Gillespie film about the GameStop meme-stock frenzy of 2021. If you recall, during the height of Covid, retail investors ran up the share prices of GameStop and others, eventually inflicting a “squeeze” on irate institutional investors who had shorted the stocks. As the credits rolled and the audience applauded, I wondered what Ken Griffin—the Wall Street titan, billionaire proprietor of the Citadel hedge fund, and an alleged villain of the GameStop saga—thought of the film. You won’t believe this, but he’s not a fan.
Like, really not a fan. I’ve since learned that Griffin is locked in a nasty behind-the-scenes legal fight with Sony Pictures over his depiction in Dumb Money, which is set to begin its theatrical roll-out on Friday. Griffin has hired at least two separate law firms and sent multiple threatening letters, one of which I obtained, and he’s consulting with crisis P.R. people to push back aggressively on his depiction by actor Nick Offerman and the filmmaking team. Griffin claims the movie “crosses the line into the knowingly false and defamatory portrayal of Ken and Citadel Securities,” according to the letter sent to Sony Pictures general counsel Leah Weil by well-known media attorney Tom Clare, who is joined by Quinn Emanuel partner Bill Burck.
My first thought was… really? Like I said, I saw the film, and no, the depiction of Griffin certainly isn’t positive—ditto the portrayal of other GameStop players, like Gabe Plotkin (Seth Rogen), whose fund lost billions shorting the troubled game retailer, and Steve Cohen (Vincent D’Onofrio), whose Point72 fund helped prop up Plotkin (and who, of course, is wearing a Mets hat in the film). But to my eye, the sharp script, written by former financial journalists Rebecca Angelo and Lauren Schuker Blum, doesn’t stretch the key facts beyond the widely circulated news headlines about the GameStop frenzy and the S.E.C. investigation, or the source material book, The Antisocial Network, by Ben Mezrich. And I know it was vetted heavily by both Sony and producer Black Bear Pictures, which hired the Jassy Vick Carolan firm.