Just weeks after its world premiere at AFI Fest in Los Angeles earlier this month, Paramount Pictures has released the second trailer and a new poster for The Big Short, which could be a potential awards season contender. Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell lead an all-star cast in this drama based on the true story chronicled in the book of the same name by Michael Lewis (Moneyball, The Blind Side). When four outsiders saw what the big banks, media and government refused to, the global collapse of the economy, they had an idea: The Big Short. Their bold investment leads them into the dark underbelly of modern banking where they must question everyone and everything.

In 2005, eccentric San Jose-based money manager and heavy-metal music enthusiast Michael Burry (Christian Bale) studies thousands of individual loans bundled into highly rated mortgage bonds and makes a startling discovery. The financial products are loaded with delinquent home loans certain to default over the next few years. While Wall Street bankers and government regulatory agencies ignore this ticking time bomb, Burry invents a financial instrument called the credit default swap in order to "short" the booming housing market - much to the dismay of his hedge fund's owners and investors.

When slick young Wall Street banker Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling) catches wind of Burry's strategy, he uses a tower of tumbling Jenga blocks to persuade hot-tempered hedge-fund manager Mark Baum (Steve Carell) that he too should invest millions in credit default swaps. Initially skeptical, Baum and his contentious team of wise-cracking young analysts (Jeremy Strong, Hamish Linklater and Rafe Spall) undertake their own investigation. Researching the housing market in Florida, they interview glib mortgage brokers who routinely obtain loans for grossly under-qualified home buyers and a strip-club dancer who's made zero-down-payment purchases of multiple properties.

RELATED: The Big Short Starts Shooting with Pitt, Gosling & Bale

Meanwhile, 20-something money managers Jamie Shipley (Finn Wittrock) and Charlie Geller (John Magaro) also stumble upon the housing-market bubble. Hoping to break into the financial big leagues, they're distressed to find their $30 million fund falls almost $1.5 billion short of the requirements needed for a seat at the grownups' table. So they enlist banker-turned-environmental-doomsayer Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt), who uses his connections to help them make their own bet against Wall Street.

By the time the market finally crashes in 2008, these contrarian investors will make billions yet will be forever changed by their experience. But while the financial institutions whose reckless behavior caused the problem are bailed out by U.S. taxpayers, millions of Americans lose their homes, their jobs and their retirement savings in an economic catastrophe whose effects are still being felt today. The supporting cast also includes Karen Gillan, Marisa Tomei, Selena Gomez, Melissa Leo and Max Greenfield in director Adam McKay's gripping drama, which hits theaters in limited release December 11 before expanding nationwide on December 23. Take a look at the new trailer and poster below, before The Big Short hits theaters next month.

<strong><em>The Big Short</em></strong> Poster