"Money Never Sleeps" faces hard time on Wall Street

Wed Sep 22, 2010 8:33am EDT
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Gordon Gekko, the archetypal villain of iconic 1980s movie "Wall Street" has a new mantra: greed is not just good, it's legal and it's everywhere.

But his words, and the sequel "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" that is set to hit cinemas worldwide on Friday, is unlikely to strike the same chord with securities traders and bankers that made Gekko a cult hero and the epitome of unabashed, 1980s financial excess, industry experts say.

"I don't think it will be as big an issue on Wall Street in terms of dirtying its image," said Igor Kirman, a partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, a major Wall Street law firm.

When "Wall Street" hit cinemas in 1987, the stock market had suffered a massive crash and Americans were angry. The film showed how bankers bought companies, stripped their assets, destroyed proud U.S. businesses and left countless blue-collar workers standing in unemployment lines.

Director Oliver Stone may be taking on Wall Street again, but in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial meltdown which drew universal ire from politicians and a steady stream of scandals -- from Bernie Madoff's ponzi scheme to the collapse of one firm which embodied the 1980s excesses, Lehman Brothers -- bankers are not worried about Stone's new film.

"Wall Street has been dragged through the mud in the last year or so. It has been scapegoated," said Kirman. "There is nothing that Oliver Stone is going to say...in this movie that our president has not said himself. It's not going to be a huge punch against Wall Street."

The movie saw its premiere at the Cannes film festival in May and met with mixed reviews. Since then, Stone said, he spent three weeks doing some extra editing.

Michael Douglas is back as ruthless corporate raider Gordon Gekko, but this time taking the blame for financial chicanery are the major money center banks and those who run them.   Continued...

<p>Shia LaBeouf in "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps". REUTERS/20th Century Fox</p>