Enron – The Smartest Guys In the Room – Here we go!

Im proud to say that HDNet Film’s first effort, Enron – The Smartest Guys in the Room expands around the country starting this friday, April 29th.

If you have missed the reviews, they have been amazing.

“Should be essential viewing.” John Anderson, NEWSDAY

“The picture it paints is scarier than anything offered by any of Hollywood’s recycled gore-fests.” James Berardinelli, REELVIEWS

“A thoroughly fascinating and horrifying documentary about the giant corporate house of cards that came crashing down on the heads of all the little people while the big guys cashed out for mega-millions, smirking all the way.” Jami Bernard, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

“The Smartest Guys in the Room lays bare, in funny and shocking video clips, the culture of arrogance at Enron.” Owen Gleiberman, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

“Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room is not only a great cautionary tale, it’s a civics lesson that should be seen by every concerned citizen.” James Greenberg, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

“Less corporate noir than capitalist disaster film.” J. Hoberman, VILLAGE VOICE

“By turns amazing, amusing and appalling.” Joe Leydon, VARIETY

“This cinematic scrutiny of runaway corporate greed reveals the nightmarish rapaciousness of those who engineered the fraud.” Claudia Puig, USA TODAY

“This is a brilliantly executed, brutally entertaining dissection of what one observer called the greatest corporate fraud in American history.” Richard Roeper, EBERT & ROEPER

“This sober, informative chronicle of the biggest business scandal of the decade is almost indecently entertaining.” A.O. Scott, NEW YORK TIMES

“The story is fascinating, infuriating and even laugh-out-loud funny at times.” Russell Scott Smith, NEW YORK POST

“Alex Gibney’s riveting documentary is a rape story, with the public trust as the victim.”
Peter Travers, ROLLING STONE

The buzz continues to build. The blogosphere has been talking it up as well. As is the case in the blogworld, they are even starting to create a little bit of controversy. In a Q^A session this week at the San Fran Film Festival, Alex Gibney the Director of the film said that CNBC claimed to have erased all of their footage involving Enron. It will be interesting to find out if everyone is on the same page there.

For those outside of Houston and NY, the movie opens comes to a theater near you starting April 29th. In Houston, it continues at the River Oaks and in NYC at the Sunshine and Lincoln Plaza.

April 29th… Please check it out and let me know what you think about it!

Finally, here is a note from Director Alex Gibney aboutthe movie:

Even though the story of Enron is a great human tragedy, I hope it makes you laugh.

The fact is that, from a distant perspective, the events are funny. An executive addicted to strippers, accountants making up the numbers, our most prestigious banks handing out deals to criminals that they would never consider giving to honest working people, a body-builder taking charge of California – the world’s 7th largest economy – because his political allies shut the lights off all over the state. There are skits – skits! – by Enron execs about the scams they pulled. And while the company is going down the tubes, the CEO stresses over fabric swatches for the G5 jet.

Yet, as the music makes clear, this is a black comedy, where every laugh has an undertow of moral outrage. As Tom Waits sings in the final song: “Who are the ones we kept in charge? Killers, thieves and lawyers. God’s away…God’s away…God’s away… on business!”

At the end of the day, I hope that watching the film makes you as angry as it made me when I was making it. This is the cinema v?t?ersion of the Titanic: a few people sailed off in gilt-edged lifeboats while everyone else drowned. (Again, Tom Waits – and his co-writer Kathleen Brennan: “There’s a leak, there’s a leak in the boiler room…”) But unlike the Titanic, the fault for Enron’s collapse is not limited to a few executives. As the film shows, our major investment banks, our accounting firms, our lawyers – indeed the very government that is supposed to protect us – all aided and abetted Enron in doing what it did.

Enron’s slogan on its surrealistic ads was “Ask Why.” It was supposed to suggest that Enron was an innovative company because it questioned conventional wisdom. Looking back, I think “ask why” was one of those clues that master criminals leave for detectives. “Ask why,” Enron’s earnings were so good when so little cash was coming in the door. But now, way beyond that, we should all “ask why” such a thing could have happened.

I hope you enjoy the film. I hope you laugh and I hope it makes you mad as hell.

Alex Gibney

27 thoughts on “Enron – The Smartest Guys In the Room – Here we go!

  1. Mark, with all due respect, you should not have tried to make this movie so “sexy”. I realize that you are very successful and your aim is to make as much money as possible, but real people were affected by this and you are exploiting them.

    The rich elite such as yourself may argue that since they were dumb enough to be duped into buying those stocks they got what was coming to them. That is a very cold way to look at things.

    I hope that one day you learn your lesson, Mark.


    Comment by Sue -

  2. I saw the movie last Friday and hands down it is the best movie of 2005. The content and the picture quality were excellent. I hope you continue to produce high quality products and give the traditionalists a run for their money.

    Comment by Jason Johnson -

  3. Inconsistent? I wouldn’t say that…

    I think that Mark is all about the money. As someone with pretty strong political convictions, I don’t particularly like that, but I’ve gotta say it works for the guy. (With all my political knowledge, I still don’t own an NBA franchise OR a website conglomerate)

    So, if you can cash in on selling something to the left that is anti-corporate, while your corporation reaps the financial rewards AND maintains direct financial support to the right (I’m assuming – I don’t know about Mark’s campaign contributions), it’s really a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too situation for him.

    The businessman in me says congrats, the idealogue says shame…

    Comment by Adam Miller -

  4. Inconsistent? I wouldn’t say that…

    I think that Mark is all about the money. As someone with pretty strong political convictions, I don’t particularly like that, but I’ve gotta say it works for the guy. (With all my political knowledge, I still don’t own an NBA franchise OR a website conglomerate)

    So, if you can cash in on selling something to the left that is anti-corporate, while your corporation reaps the financial rewards AND maintains direct financial support to the right (I’m assuming – I don’t know about Mark’s campaign contributions), it’s really a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too situation for him.

    The businessman in me says congrats, the idealogue says shame…

    Comment by Adam Miller -

  5. I find it odd that Mark invested in this film and is so active in promoting it, given his admission of voting for Bush (twice!) and the the obvious links between Enron, Ken Lay, and Dubya himself.

    Not saying Cuban’s necessarily a hypocrite. “Inconsistent” is more accurate.

    But I admit I’ll still see the film as soon as I am able.

    Comment by Jim J -

  6. Man I can’t wait to see this it sounds good!

    Comment by rob -

  7. Fantastic film! Funny and infuriating all at the same time. Great skewering.

    Comment by Andy Wibbels -

  8. To Bob, #14 above…
    TNTHD is avail on Comcast Cable, although very recently, maybe since your post. Secondly, it’s not Dallas that is lacking in HD content as Dallas has probably some of the greatest concentration of HD content avail. Blame the regulators for the lack of choices for providers, although that is changing. As for content, you can get a receiver that handles OTA (Over The Air) HD signals in get something in the range of 12 – 14 local channels, all broadcast in HD, for free. The satellites are bringing HD as fast as the stations can put it on the air, there is HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, all in HD, ESPN (greatness), TNT, Discovery, PBS and many more, not to mention HDNET and that other HD station (INHD). Am I missing any? There are few places in the country you can get more HD content. But you are right, each provider has their own subset and hopefully one will begin to carry all of them. I am eagerly awaiting Verizon’s foray into video services over fiber optic cable to see what their offerings will be.

    Comment by Stacey -

  9. Mark-
    ‘Enron – The Smartest Guys’ in the room was pugnaciously hysterical! I saw it last night here in MSP at the Uptown Theatre. I enjoyed laughing out loud at the utterly arrogant stupidity of these men. I was glad to have been better exposed to THE modern tragedy. I left with the disturbing thought calculating in my mind, How much money and lives did Enron truly cost us? My estimate with media, stock, health care, the elections of inept leaders, etc the number is near the FOURTEEN figures range. Good luck with HDNet I’m enjoying the product and loving the Landmark theatres!

    Comment by thirty7 -

  10. Mark…

    I visited your Landmark Theater in Seattle, the “Guild on 45th”; at any rate, I thought the movie was well done and entertaining. I would however like to request the possibly of getting some Dr. Pepper there, in addition to the Coke products. You might ask why… well it is simple I am from Texas and you can never have too much Dr. Pepper.

    Former AudioNet’er

    Comment by Rob Sherrard -

  11. Mark, 3 quick hits …

    1) I just got an HDTV about 3 weeks ago, and was frustrated by the lack of choices in the Dallas area … Comcast? Dish? DirecTV? Antenna? (And what the heck happened to Voom?) Unfortunately each have a different sub-set of stations they carry which makes the choice difficult (ex. Why is the Dish the only one to have TNT HD? I need my “40 games in 40 nights” in HD but I hate the Dish’s DVR!) In fact, why do so few cable channels support HD?!?! This makes HDNet invaluable. Thank you!

    2) I know Hollywood doesn’t get “the business world”, but in my experience, there is as much drama (and humor and intrigue and suspense) in a corporate America setting as there is in sports, crime scenes, etc. I know you are not fond of Trump, however he *did* stumble onto a good idea with the Apprentice insomuch that it was fresh compared to the typical tired backdrops for tv shows. So, kudos for bringing the Enron book to the screen. Can’t wait to see it.

    3) I have to agree with post #12 … I run an internet business and capturing email addresses (yes, using double-opt-in, et. al) is an essential part of getting my message in front of people who want my content. Sales definitely skyrocket when I send out a quick note that new video content is available. BTW, I’m not talking about spamming the world — these are people who are interested in knowing about your product and would buy it IF THEY KNEW it was now available.

    Oh yeah, and #4 … I read this morning that you ran out and gave props to a fan wearing a Mavs jersey who was teased by the Rocket’s mascott — I wish I had seen that … that alone makes you a great owner. Go Mavs!

    Comment by Bob Tabor -

  12. Saw it at SXSW and loved it. I’m glad that you’re pushing it hard like it needs to be.

    Comment by Nick Robinson -

  13. I think I’ll spend the 2 hours I would have wasted on this, doing something worthwhile and profitable.

    Comment by Mike Sigers -

  14. Re: Mr. Gibney’s on why such a thing could happen.

    I think it happens more often than we think but this was one case that was publicized. How do things like this happen? Poor security measures. And greed tends to turn a blind eye to a lot misdemeanors that eventually snowball into financial scandalations. When the big guys at the top aren’t watching the towers and instead watching their pockets get fat than everyone else thinks its ok and wants a sliver of the pie. The embezzlement/misdemeanor pyramid.

    Comment by Sue -

  15. you can see the trailer and selected clips here:

    Comment by charles -

  16. Enron:smartest guys in the room, Premiered on HDNet Movie Channel last friday nite at 8pm ET and aired again at 11pm ET.

    Comment by karl meisenbach -

  17. I’m reposting this. I didn’t expect a personal reply or anything but it really seems like, as the hype builds for ENRON, you’d want to be capturing contact info for prospective DVD owners like myself. Please consider the suggestion below, because there are a lot of people I know who got excited by your earlier comments about making DVDs available upon theatrical release…

    You have stated in prior articles that you had intended to do a practically simultaneous release of an HDnet film in Landmark theatres, on HDnet, and in DVD format.

    I have been looking forward a great deal to purchasing “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” on DVD. Though I’d like to see it in the theatre, I have two young children, and my wife and I very, very rarely get a chance to see films outside of the home.

    Please inform the public – either here or through enronmovie.com – about expected availability of the DVD. (On a marketing note: though the enronmovie.com site is cute, and the audio files are particularly compelling material to listen to, a real opportunity is being missed by not having an opt-in list for “contact me when this is available on DVD”. You’ll get more eyeballs visiting that site as the movie opens in wide release than you are likely to get in the months after the hype dies down. By not capturing the contact info of those of us who want to buy it asap, you’re greatly increasing the chance we will be buying it from a 3rd party channel like Amazon. When that happens, you’re obviously missing out on major profit margins. You’re a billionaire, so you may not care about such a thing. But you appear to be shrewd and eager about ROI. So in the future, consider the costs of missing out on the direct-to-consumer business here.)

    Comment by Dan Newit -

  18. One of my co-bloggers reviewed the film, and recommended it highly. Here’s Venkat’s positive take:


    But in the comments, another BTD blogger Vance (a professional investor in the energy industry) mentions some facts he thinks were overlooked, or just wrong.

    I definitely plan to see the film.

    Comment by BTD Steve -

  19. I think your greatest marketing strategy is the fact you are releasing it both on HDNet and in theaters. Your business ventures are the personification of what any regular person (who is ambitious) would do if they had a few billion dollars (i.e. buy a chain of theaters, transform them to digital projection, start an HD network and HD production company, buy and start a film production company, fund Grokster’s legal efforts, challenge the NBA, etc.) You’ve done an amazing job.

    I’m looking forward to seeing the Enron movie. Here’s a 17-minute Enron montage I made last year:


    I took the infamous Enron tapes and mixed them with various clips of Bush, Ken Lay, Enron lobbyists, some evidence, the Rich Kinder video, and the hilarious Greg Palast.

    I like when an Enron employee says someone is “stealing $1-2 million per day” from California and the other guy asks him to rephrase it, so he says “he arbitrages the California market by a few million a day”. Later on he says “remember when they lost $11 billion, well you know how much of that we got”.

    The Rich Kinder Enron retirement video includes Hypothetical Future Value accounting and forecasts of a Kazillion dollars. It’s followed by the worst advice ever from Bush who tells Rich not to leave Enron and Texas.

    By far the funniest part is after an employee says Enron was the biggest contributor to the Bush campaign and that when Bush wins he’d nominate Ken Lay as Energy Secretary. They love this idea saying it will ‘open up the markets’. They go on to explain how great it would be once Bush got all the socialists out of the government. Then they talk about all the money they stole from ‘Grandma Millie’ in California, how we’re the Roman empire and we’re all going down.

    Comment by Quant -

  20. I have been looking forward to this one for awhile , I am not living in the US anymore do you if there is a Euro release? So much has happened in the last four years its easy to forget Enron.

    Comment by Conann -

  21. can’t wait to see it..thx

    Comment by Scott -

  22. Mark,

    Is the antiquated, MPAA dominated, theatrical release the only way we can see this movie? I’m really fired up about seeing it, but unfortunately with a newborn and a toddler at home, there isn’t much time to get to a theater. What happened to making great content available in many formats? Can I buy a HDD loaded up with a HD transfer of the movie from you anywhere? How about an MPEG4 encoded version on DVD? As long as you don’t DRM-up the content so I can play it on my DLP, desktop, or laptop whenever and wherever I’d like, I’d love to see your movie. Better yet, let’s see it on HDNet! Let’s test the whole biz model at once.


    Comment by Joe S -

  23. I am definitely looking forward to seeing this. I’m currently reading “Conspiracy of Fools” by Kurt Eichenwald which also about the ENRON scandal (and also highly recommended).

    Comment by Martin Zacarias -

  24. congrats Mark

    Comment by Narendra -

  25. Hi Mark,

    Enron TSGITR was GREAT! Many thanks for the enlightenment and for putting something together that really needs to be seen.

    It’s also great that you open it simultaniously in theaters and on HDNet. Good call.

    Your friend from Columbia University,
    Brandon Arbiter

    Comment by Brandon Arbiter -

  26. I preferred the previous blog.

    Comment by Parcel -

  27. Well, I definitely give you big-ups for Voices of Iraq. I guess I’ll have to see this one, too. =)

    Comment by Charles -

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