“Dumb Money,” Sony Pictures’ GameStop and WallStreetBets movie, is changing its release plan and will be released in an unusual four-step, platform rollout, which includes a “moderate release” in theaters one week before it goes wide.
The film was meant to open wide from Sony’s Columbia Pictures domestically on September 22 of this year following a Toronto premiere on Sept. 8, but it will now open exclusively in Los Angeles and New York on Sept. 15, then expand to a limited release the week after on Sept. 22, expand again to a “moderate release” on Sept. 29, and finally open wide on October 6.
While you may be wondering about that “moderate release,” a source tells IndieWire “Dumb Money” is expected to open that weekend on somewhere below 600 locations, and the new wide release, which should be on over 2,000 screens, lines it up for a holiday weekend on Indigenous People’s Day. Its TIFF premiere also remains unchanged.
While a release plan stretched across four weeks might sound strange, a platformed studio release is certainly not unheard of, especially for potential awards titles or movies that depend on building strong word of mouth.
That’s even more crucial right now when actors are unable to promote studio movies during the SAG-AFTRA strike. Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with Comscore, says that a modest platform release for “Dumb Money” may have been in the cards already, but rarely do you see such attention to detail in a release plan announcement, let alone a four-tiered strategy. The work stoppage almost certainly has something to do with that.
“It’s really smart for studios recognizing the challenges of the marketplace to adapt and adjust distribution and marketing plans for their films,” Dergarabedian told IndieWire via email. “So building buzz with the help of presumably enthusiastic audiences is a good call on the part of the studio and a strategy that will be studied by other distributors.”
Sony, which does not have a streaming platform of its own, was the first of the major studios to significantly shuffle its 2023 theatrical release slate in response to the prolonged strike. It pushed both “Kraven the Hunter” and the untitled “Ghostbusters” sequel out of the year, and it further delayed the releases of “Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse” in 2024 and more.
But for the titles it did keep in 2023, the studio is already experimenting with the slow rollout model designed to maximize word of mouth. “Gran Turismo,” a racing movie inspired by the PlayStation video game franchise, is opening with two weeks of sneak previews before it finally opens wide on August 25.
Sony also had success pivoting the release of last year’s Tom Hanks comedy “A Man Called Otto” to a platform rollout, first releasing it on December 30 before moving it wide on January 13. The film opened to just $56K but wound up grossing $64.2 million domestic.
“Dumb Money” could be one of Sony’s sleeper awards contenders for the year. The film from director Craig Gillespie (“I, Tonya”) is based on the true story of how GameStop became a “meme stock” driven by small potatoes investors on a Reddit forum who bet against those looking to short the stock, driving Wall Street insane in the process. The film is based on Ben Mezrich’s book “The Antisocial Network” and is executive produced by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss.
The film stars Paul Dano, Pete Davidson, Vincent D’Onofrio, America Ferrera, Nick Offerman, Anthony Ramos, Sebastian Stan, Shailene Woodley, and Seth Rogen.