UPDATE: Reviews are pouring in positive for 20th Century Fox’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps as Oliver Stone and Michael Douglas arrived for this morning’s press hoopla flanked by Shia LaBeouf, Josh Brolin, Frank Langella, and Carey Mulligan. Sporting a new moustache, Stone launched into his analysis of what went wrong with the global financial system. “The market had a major heart attack. The system’s had triple bypass surgery. They’ve put a stent in, but I don’t think they’ve solved the problem. After the original Wall Street, I thought the system would correct itself. But instead it has just gotten worse.”
Stone explained the crisis by claiming “the financial system got drunk” and said that capitalism has become riddled with tremendous inequalities and injustice and came armed with his own unconfirmed statistics. He pointed out that 70% of Goldman Sachs’ profits were not made on behalf of its clients, but through its own financial dealings. He noted that 40% of America’s corporate profits come from the finance sector — not manufacturing. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps will be released worldwide day-and-date on September 23, “just when the market’s most volatile,” Stone predicted with some satisfaction. Gulp.
Michael Douglas added to the sky-is-falling-on-our-heads feel of the press conference by implying that the Iceland volcano eruption was somehow tied in to the financial sector. “The Earth seems to be speaking,” Douglas intoned.
This is a much anticipated “what happened to Gordon Gekko” follow-up to Wall Street even if Stone insists it’s not a sequel. Producer Ed Pressman and Douglas first approached Stone with the idea of making it back in 2006 at the height of the financial exuberance. At first, Stone was reluctant. Then he says he thought about how greed had become legitimized in the 23 years since he made the original. But Stone sees the new film as being about relationships and what’s more important –- money or family? Stone said: “We approached it from the bottom up, and that gave us the jism we needed.” (Yes, he really did use that word.)
Josh Brolin got the only laugh of the press conference when the actors were asked if any of the roles they had played had affected them personally. Brolin quipped, “I played George W Bush and I’m still confused.” The filmmakers noted that LaBeouf spent time on Wall Street trading floors to understand how that world works. That’s a contrast to 1987 when all the big investment banks refused to cooperate with his original film. Stone said now banks were only too keen to throw their doors open this time around. Many of those who now run Wall Street grew up thinking of Gordon Gekko as a hero, something which alarms Douglas.
Douglas believes the financial crisis had also affected the indie film sector. “It’s cleared out a lot of mediocre indie films,” said the actor who started his showbiz career as a producer, “but that doesn’t bode well for the future.”
Stone dismissed any suggestion that Fox was missing out on momentum by not releasing the movie right now to cash in on daily worldwide news bulletins about the financial crisis. Douglas added that the film’s topicality might actually work against it in that people might think they’ve already seen the movie because of CNBC broadcasts. (Douglas said he had the same problem when The China Syndrome was released just as the Three Mile Island nuclear accident was occurring back in 1979.)