Avi Lerner, the founder of Millennium Films and Nu Image Entertainment, admits that he made a mistake when it came to “The Wolf of Wall Street,” director Martin Scorsese‘s edgy look at the sex-and-drug-filled 1980s stock market boom.
“They came to me about six or seven years ago,” he told TheWrap. “I rejected it because I didn’t want to make or see a movie about such a negative guy, who did so many bad things.”
The film is based on the book of the same name by Jordan Belfort, a stockbroker who stole millions of dollars from investors in sham deals. The explicit portrayals of sex and drug use, coupled with what some see as an ambiguous stance on the morality of the main character (portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio), has made the movie a lightning rod for criticism.
But the $100 million “Wolf” has been a hit with critics (77 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and worked at the box office, despite its R-rating. It’s made $91 million domestically for distributor Paramount, and has added another $77 million from overseas so far.