Audiences have piled in to see the movie, which has made over $66.4 million in the U.S. between its release on Dec, 25 and Jan. 7, according to the movie industry website Box Office Mojo. The film, which is estimated to have cost around $100 million to make, will be released in the U.K. next Friday.
The "Wolf of Wall Street" is the latest in a long line of financial movies based on the excesses of the financial sector's high-fliers, which began with the original "Wall Street," released in 1987. This was followed by movies including "Boiler Room" – in 2000 – and since the onslaught of the latest global financial crisis, "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" (2010), "Margin Call" (2011) and "Arbitrage"(2012).
But what is it about these movies depicting amoral excess that appeals to audiences—who are often so far removed from the financial sector?
"There are two sides to the story: First, you've got someone living the high life—and then you've got their fall," film critic Rich Cline, editor of the movie website Shadows on the Wall, told CNBC.
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"We love watching people living to excess and breaking the rules, but there's a moral payoff here; you know they're not going to get away with it."
He described the "Wolf of Wall Street" as "the most riotous bank movie" he had ever seen.
Based on a true story, the film depicts the journey of aBelfort—played by Leonardo DiCaprio—from trading penny stocks to founding Stratton Oakmont brokerage and enjoying the accompanying life of affluence to excess.
"Money. Power. Women. Drugs. Temptations were for the taking and the threat of authority was irrelevant," the movie's promotional website said. "For Jordan and his wolf pack, modesty was quickly deemed overrated and more was never enough."
Margot Robbie, who plays Naomi, Belfort's second wife, told CNBC that she came away from the filming with her own take on Wall Street.
(Read more: 'Wolf of Wall Street': Jordan Belfort interview)
"It's astounding how everyone could get by and make so much money without knowing what was really going on. That's the view I seemed to get from everyone. It's like throwing things to a wall to see what would stick, and if it would work, then they would do it."