About Freakonomics: The Movie

Freakonomics: The Movie is Chad Troutwine’s documentary film adaptation of the phenomenally bestselling book about incentives-based thinking by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. The film examines human behavior through consistently provocative and often hilarious case studies. Working with Dan O’Meara and Chris Romano, Troutwine assembled a dream team of filmmakers responsible for some of the most acclaimed and entertaining documentaries in recent years.




The Making of Freakonomics: The Movie

After Chad Troutwine read Freakonomics and its exploration of neoclassical microeconomic principles in rational utility maximization, he thought, “This should be a movie!” As an entrepreneur and filmmaker, he actually was able to pursue his crackpot fantasy with the zeal of a young Howard Hughes.

Hounding the authors’ talent agency for nearly a year, Troutwine eventually saw his perseverance win the day. He optioned the cinematic rights to Freakonomics and began assembling a team of directors to each tackle a different Freaky topic. He met Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) at the Sundance Film Festival and quickly enlisted him. Next, Troutwine recruited Academy Award-winner Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) who suggested adding the directorial team Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Jesus Camp). Spurlock recommended Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winner Eugene Jarecki (Why We Fight), and Troutwine invited Seth Gordon (The King of Kong) to share in the producing duties and to direct the film’s introduction and the connective interviews between the four primary segments. Freakonomics: The Movie was the Closing Night Gala film at the Tribeca Film Festival, premiering before a capacity crowd of more than 1,000 Festival attendees … and Robert DeNiro.

Staying true to the irreverent spirit of co-authors Levitt and Dubner, Troutwine pursued a risky and unprecedented theatrical distribution strategy. He and Magnolia Pictures released Freakonomics: The Movie in the Apple iTunes Store and on pay-per-view before exhibiting it in theaters. An instant success, the film jumped to the top of the Documentary film category in iTunes and spent months in the Top 30 ranking of all films (just above a little film called Avatar). Further challenging conventional wisdom, Freakonomics: The Movie premiered in 10 large U.S. cities with a catch: moviegoers could pay whatever amount they wanted for tickets. The “Pay What You Want” screenings and unorthodox release strategy have prompted several commentators to wonder if Freakonomics: The Movie has ushered in a new era for independent film distribution. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences recently added Freakonomics: The Movie to its permanent collection at the Margaret Herrick Library. It is currently available for rent or purchase digitally and on Blu-ray and DVD.




“(T)his frisky adaptation of the Steven Levitt-Stephen Dubner bestseller on human behavior by the numbers adds up to a revelatory trip into complex, innovative ideas and altered perspectives on how people think. There’s little in Freakonomics that isn’t provocative, compelling or slightly perverse.”

“(N)ot only endlessly fascinating, but also immensely entertaining. (I)t would be impossible for any casual movie-goer to be bored by this film. Freakonomics is interesting, engaging, occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, and, simply, a fantastic documentary.”

“Seldom do documentaries set out in honest pursuit of hidden truths, but Freakonomics, a film based on the delightful best seller, is an invigorating and surprising journey.”

“. . .well worth dipping into.”

“. . .excel(s) at decoding real-world complexity.”

“There aren’t any weak links in the lineup, which makes it a varied and involving piece.”




Morgan Spurlock

Oscar nominated Morgan Spurlock became a household name after the runaway success of 2004’s Super Size Me, nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature at the 2005 Academy Awards. The film took $11.5m at the U.S. box office. Morgan’s most recent picture was The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, which was a Sundance premiere and was distributed by Sony Pictures Classic.

Alex Gibney

Oscar winner Alex Gibney scored a big hit with 2005’s Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room, a film that charted the hubristic demise of one America’s biggest corporations. His next film, Taxi To The Dark Side, won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2008. Since then, he has directed acclaimed documentaries on Eliot Spitzer (Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer) and Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters (Magic Trip).

Rachel Grady & Heidi Ewing

Oscar nominated directing team Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing co-directed 2006’s disturbing Jesus Camp, a film that followed a group of American children as they are systematically indoctrinated into evangelical Christianity at a summer camp. The film premiered at The Tribeca Film Festival in 2006, earning them an Oscar nomination in 2007.

Eugene Jarecki

Eugene Jarecki wrote, produced and directed the highly acclaimed 2005 documentary Why We Fight, a caustic and penetrating analysis of US military policy from Eisenhower to Bush. Jarecki won a Grand Jury Prize for best documentary at Sundance, and the film earned $2M at the U.S. box office. This year, Eugene directed Reagan, a rich and insightful look at the life of Ronald Reagan.




Chad Troutwine

Chad Troutwine is an attorney, entrepreneur, and film producer. Each of his movies have premiered at the Sundance, Toronto, Venice, or Cannes film festivals and enjoyed a US theatrical release. After completing his MBA, Chad co-founded Veritas Prep, a recognized leader in standardized test preparation and graduate school admissions consulting. This year, Chad began developing a clean energy campus showcasing one of the world’s first commercial-scale cellulosic biofuel refineries.

Chad graduated with honors from law school and earned his MBA with distinction from Yale University. In recognition of his achievements, Forbes magazine recently named Chad their Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

Seth Gordon

Seth Gordon is a multi-talented filmmaker. He directed the critically acclaimed documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. The film was noted on a host of critics’ and publications’ Best of the Year lists. Seth’s most recent release was the breakout Summer hit Horrible Bosses. In between, he has directed episodes of TV’s Modern Family, The Office, and Community. Seth is a graduate of Yale University and winner of an Oxford University writing fellowship.

Rafi Chaudry

A graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Rafi Chaudry has worked alongside such filmmakers as Alfonso Cuaron, Gus Van Sant and the Coen Bros. He worked alongside famed producer Claudie Ossard (Amelie, Delicatessen) on the French omnibus film Paris Je t’aime. Chaudry’s first feature as a Executive Producer, the film was selected to open the selection Un Certain Regard at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, later going on to screen at Toronto, San Sebastian, and numerous other festivals internationally.

Dan O’Meara

Dan O’Meara began his film career as the Director of Development for the entertainment law film Rudolph & Beer. He’s since produced independent film, and was head of film sales at Epstein, Levinsohn, Bodine, Hurwitz, & Weinstein, LLP, whose clients include Roberto Benigni, John Sayles and Michael Stipe. He was the sales representative on over twenty films, including the Oscar nominated Transamerica, and Planet B-Boy. His recent producing credits include Noah Buschel’s Neal Cassady, and Joshua, which premiered in competition at Sundance 2007 and sold to Fox Searchlight.

Chris Romano

Chris Romano graduated with honors from Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. In 2002, he became an in-house commercial producer for Lawrence Bender’s company A Band Apart. In 2004 he formed El Camino Films – a production company based in Uruguay. His other producing credits include Anthony’s Ng’s 212, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005, and Perry Henzell’s No Place Like Home (Toronto Film Festival 2006), which was released by Palm Pictures.