It has been a wild week for the stock market, with amateur traders from Reddit’s r/WallStreetBets subreddit battling traditional investors. The past several days have been full of massive swings in stocks like GameStop and AMC and app-fueled drama that’s sparked a larger debate over the nature of Wall Street as a whole.
But if you were hoping to kick back this weekend, relax, and enjoy a classic business movie about shark-like investors and over-confident Wall Street executives, you’re probably out of luck. Nearly every major finance film isn’t available to stream right now in the US (at least, not at the time of publication of this article), thanks to the capricious nature of the streaming marketplace, the increasingly fragmented libraries of studios, and the byzantine licensing deals that regulate what you can stream and where.
This week’s short stock drama have you hankering for The Big Short? You won’t find it on Netflix, Hulu, or HBO Max. Right now, you can stream it with ads on Crackle, of all services. Paramount (which distributed the film) might be saving it for Paramount Plus, which is set to launch in March, but that won’t do you any good this weekend. Instead, your only option is to buy or rent it — which, it seems, many people are doing, given that the film has shot to the No. 3 spot on iTunes.
Maybe the ups and downs of the stock market reminded you more of Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, chronicling the rise and fall of investor Jordan Belfort. But the Paramount film is nowhere to be found on any streaming platform. So unless you’re willing to pony up some actual cash to buy or rent the film (which, like The Big Short, is shooting up rental charts), you won’t be enjoying Leonardo DiCaprio’s profanity-fueled chest-thumping either. The same applies to 2000’s Boiler Room, which is also absent from any streaming service.
20th Century Fox’s Wall Street is — predictably — not on Disney Plus to stream, but it’s also not available on Hulu or any other service. If you are looking for a financial film to watch this weekend, though, the sequel, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, is on Amazon Prime. There’s also Margin Call, which is streaming on Peacock (for now).
But the dearth of classic Wall Street films isn’t a unique issue. It’s one that streaming services have been grappling with in recent years, as big players like Netflix and Hulu have been less encompassing and streaming services have focused more on building up libraries of original content. There was a similar issue during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when millions of viewers looking to watch Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 film Contagion were frustrated that the film wasn’t available to stream anywhere.
The fact that iconic Wall Street films will similarly miss the big moment around ambitious investors and skeevy short selling is indicative of a bigger problem with streaming in 2021, one that will likely continue to get worse as more and more studios continue to reclaim their content for their own services.
Then again, it’s almost fitting that the only way to watch The Wolf of Wall Street or The Big Short this weekend is to pay a little extra cash back into the big financial machine.
Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.