The Wolf of Wall Street is a 2013 American epic biographical black comedy crime film directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Terence Winter, based on the 2007 memoir of the same name by Jordan Belfort. It recounts Belfort's perspective on his career as a stockbroker in New York City and how his firm, Stratton Oakmont, engaged in rampant corruption and fraud on Wall Street, which ultimately led to his downfall. Leonardo DiCaprio, who was also a producer on the film, stars as Belfort, with Jonah Hill as his business partner and friend, Donnie Azoff, Margot Robbie as his wife, Naomi Lapaglia, and Kyle Chandler as FBI agent Patrick Denham, who tries to bring Belfort down.
The film premiered in New York City on December 17, 2013, and was released in the United States on December 25, 2013, by Paramount Pictures, and was the first to be released entirely through digital distribution. It was a major commercial success, grossing $392 million worldwide during its theatrical run, becoming Scorsese's highest-grossing film. The film sparked controversy over its morally ambiguous depiction of events, explicit sexual content, extreme profanity, depiction of hard drug use, and the use of animals during production. It set a Guinness World Record for the most instances of swearing in a film.
The film received generally positive reviews from critics, though it has also been criticized for glorifying the infamous individuals and immoral behaviors portrayed in the film. It was nominated for several awards, including five at the 86th Academy Awards ceremony: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor (for DiCaprio), and Best Supporting Actor (for Hill). DiCaprio won Best Actor – Musical or Comedy at the 71st Golden Globe Awards, where the film was also nominated for Best Picture – Musical or Comedy.
In 1987, Jordan Belfort lands a job as a Wall Street stockbroker for L.F. Rothschild, employed under Mark Hanna. He is quickly enticed into the sex- and drug-fueled stockbroker culture and passes on his idea that a broker's only goal is to make money for himself. Jordan loses his job following Black Monday, the largest one-day stock market drop in history, and takes a job at a boiler room brokerage firm on Long Island that specializes in penny stocks. Thanks to his aggressive pitching style and the high commissions, Jordan makes a small fortune.
Jordan befriends his neighbor Donnie Azoff, and the two found their own company. They recruit several of Jordan's friends, whom Jordan trains in the art of the "hard sell". Jordan's tactics and salesmanship largely contribute to the success of his pump and dump scheme, which involves inflating the price of a stock through issuing misleading, positive statements to sell it at an artificially augmented price. When the perpetrators of the scheme sell their overvalued securities, the price drops immensely and those who were conned into buying at the inflated price are left with stock that is suddenly worth much less than what they paid. To cloak this, Jordan gives the firm the respectable-sounding name Stratton Oakmont in 1989.
After an exposé in Forbes, hundreds of ambitious young financiers flock to his company. Jordan becomes immensely successful and slides into a decadent lifestyle of prostitutes and drugs. He has an affair with a woman named Naomi Lapaglia; when his wife finds out, Jordan divorces her and marries Naomi in 1991. Meanwhile, the SEC and the FBI begin investigating Stratton Oakmont.
In 1993, Jordan illegally makes $22 million in three hours upon securing the IPO of Steve Madden. This brings him and his firm further to the attention of the FBI. To hide his money, Jordan opens a Swiss bank account with corrupt banker Jean-Jacques Saurel in the name of Naomi's Aunt Emma, who is a British national and thus outside the reach of American authorities. He uses the wife and in-laws of his friend Brad Bodnick, who has European passports, to smuggle the cash into Switzerland.
Donnie and Brad get into a public brawl; Donnie escapes, but Brad is arrested. Brad does not say a word about Donnie or Jordan to the police. Jordan learns from his private investigator that the FBI is wiretapping his phones. Fearing for his son, Jordan's father advises him to leave Stratton Oakmont and lie low while Jordan's lawyer negotiates a deal to keep him out of prison. Jordan, however, cannot bear to quit and talks himself into staying in the middle of his farewell speech. In 1996, Jordan, Donnie, and their wives are on a yacht trip to Italy when they learn that Aunt Emma has died of a heart attack. Jordan decides to travel to Switzerland immediately to settle the bank account. To bypass border controls, he orders his yacht captain to sail to Monaco, but the ship capsizes in a storm. After their rescue, the plane sent to take them to Geneva is destroyed when a seagull flies into the engine; Jordan takes this as a sign from God and decides to sober up.
Two years later, the FBI arrests Jordan because Saurel, arrested in Florida on an unrelated charge, has informed the FBI on Jordan. Since the evidence against him is overwhelming, Jordan agrees to gather evidence on his colleagues in exchange for leniency. At home, Naomi tells Jordan she is divorcing him and wants full custody of their daughter and infant son; in an impulsive, cocaine-fueled rage, Jordan assaults Naomi and tries to drive away with his daughter before crashing his car in the driveway. Later on, Jordan wears a wire to work but slips a note to Donnie, warning him. The FBI discovers this, arrests Jordan, and raids and shuts down Stratton Oakmont. Despite breaching his deal, Jordan receives a reduced sentence of 36 months in a minimum-security prison for his testimony and is released after serving 22 months. After his release, Jordan makes a living hosting seminar on sales techniques.