Recently, Geoff Boucher from the LA Times had a chance to sit down with producer Frank Beddor (There’s Something About Mary), one of the minds behind the Monopoly concept, and Beddor gave readers the first ever look into what the story for the upcoming movie adaptation of Monopoly will be. What he said is not totally surprising: Beddor is working on a re-imagining of the Alice in Wonderland story called the Looking Glass Wars and he took that idea and applied it to Monopoly.

“[Hasbro has] this big world and this game — it’s the most famous board game in the world — and it just really came out of the whole ‘Alice’ thing. I took the approach of thinking of the main character falling down a rabbit hole and into a real place called Monopoly City … It was the re-engineering of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ that got me thinking and then with this it came around full circle and I was able to utilize that. That’s a big world. They were searching for that.”

To paraphrase: he has no original idea for making a board game into an actual movie but because he promised Hasbro to deliver he had to come up with something. I back up my previous statement with the following quote:

“I wrote the story that got Hasbro excited and I attached Ridley Scott. The project was underway but they were in a little bit of trouble I guess and they were looking for a way to actually turn it into a movie. I had a pretty interesting take and it got Sir Ridley interested.”

Want just a little bit more proof that Beddor is just phoning in the idea for Monopoly? Well, Pamela Pettler (9, Monster House) is penning the screenplay and as far as Beddor is concerned, his contribution to the project’s concept is done:

“Things will change; it’s been a couple of years since I came up with all that. I did my job where I created this world so they could get really excited and get Ridley excited.”

So what is this fantastic, game-changing idea (pun intended) that will rock the very foundation of the board game movie genre? I’m going to do something I rarely do and quote Beddor’s entire statement because it is just, so, totally… well, read it for yourself:

“I created a comedic, lovable loser who lives in Manhattan and works at a real estate company and he’s not very good at his job but he’s great at playing Monopoly. And the world record for playing is 70 straight days – over 1,600 hours – and he wanted to try to convince his friends to help him break that world record. They think he is crazy. They kid him about this girl and they’re playing the game and there’s this big fight. And he’s holding a Chance card and after they’ve left he says, ‘Damn, I wanted to use that Chance card,’ and he throws it down. He falls asleep and then he wakes up in the morning and he’s holding the Chance card, and he thinks, ‘That’s odd.’”

Wait it gets better (read: worse)

“He’s all groggy and he goes down to buy some coffee and he reaches into his pocket and all he has is Monopoly money. All this Monopoly money pours out. He’s confused and embarrassed and the girl reaches across the counter and says, ‘That’s OK.’ And she gives him change in Monopoly money. He walks outside and he’s in this very vibrant place, Monopoly City, and he’s just come out of a Chance Shop. As it goes on, he takes on the evil Parker Brothers in the game of Monopoly. He has to defeat them. It tries to incorporate all the iconic imageries — a sports car pulls up, there’s someone on a  horse, someone pushing a wheelbarrow — and rich Uncle Pennybags, you’re going to see him as the maître d’ at the restaurant and he’s the buggy driver and the local eccentric and the doorman at the opera. There’s all these sight gags.”

OK, I’m just going to pull some keywords that bring on my groan-reflex: “world record”, “Monopoly City”, “Chance Shop”, “evil Parker Brothers”, “someone on a horse”, “someone pushing a wheelbarrow”, “buggy driver”, “sight gags”.  I’ll bet you my vintage Evil Dead lunch box that Leslie Neilsen plays Uncle Pennybags.

C

Universal is currently working off the movie-making formula of  [Ridely Scott] {RS} + [any marketable franchise] {amf} = [large amounts of money] {$$$}.  So, the big-brained execs with more money than sense started plugging variables into their equation to see what would produce the largest profit. It’s a basic algebra equation where you are simply trying to solve for X, or in this case, {amf}. I recently found some of the failed formulas they used to try and achieve their goal.

Examples: {RS} + {My Little Ponies} = {-$}

{RS} + {Mighty Ducks Remake} = {$}

{RS} + {Survivor the movie} = {$$}

{RS} + {Talking Washing Machine} = {-$$}

{RS} + {Monopoly} = {$$$}

BINGO! That last one was their eureka moment, the one that got them fist bumping and popping champagne corks.

OK so I’m exaggerating a bit with the fist bumping (it is flu season and all friendly exchanges are  done non-contact now) but the rest has to be totally true. There is no one involved with this Monopoly Project that thinks it will be anything but a success. In fact, in their minds, the audience just landed on Boardwalk and the studio has a hotel on it. *CHA-CHING!*

So Beddor pitched his idea to Hasbro and Ridley Scott and they ate it up? How on earth did that happen?

“Well it was that pitch, that’s where Sir Ridely got excited. After I pitched it to him, he put out his hand and said, ‘What do I have to be part of this movie?’ “

And just why would Ridley Scott, famed director of Alien, Blade Runner and Gladiator, want to be involved in a project with a concept as ridiculous the one Beddor just mentioned? Beddor explains:

“So I said [to Ridley Scott], ‘Do you mean you want to direct it?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, and I will tell you why – it’s all the things you just said and the fact that I had these epic Monopoly battles with my family when I was young.'”

I can honestly say I’ve never had an “epic Monopoly battle” with anyone. Games of  Connect Four and Mastermind, on the other hand, have ended more than once with a fat lip, black eye or bloody nose. Beddor is well aware of all the ire he is drawing across the movie news world in regards the very idea of Monopoly being made into a movie, and to those people he says this:

“Everybody reacted the same way when they heard that there was going to be a ‘Pirates of the Caribbean‘ movie — and I did too. Look, so much of it is about the execution. You know the visual component is going to be beautiful with Ridley. And you have all of the world editions to deal with — there are different editions of the game so the city won’t be limited to the Atlantic City edition that we know in America. Ridley grew up with the British version.”

Addressing that last part of his comment would fill an entire post by itself. I’ll just leave you with this bit from Beddor where Boucher asks him about addressing corporate greed and if the backlash Wall Street is receiving right now could negatively affect the film.

“Well it’s not about that; it can’t be just about the money. To me it’s more a metaphor for life, the taking of chances and this character through this process learns that he can do a lot of things. He’s completely brave and strategic and risk-taking while playing this game but in real life he’s a mess. He won’t roll the dice. That’s the character and journey he has to take.”

Brave, strategic, risk-taking – what game is he referring to, because it sure isn’t Monopoly. You roll the dice, you move the spaces, you decide to buy or not buy and then after 2 hours you quit the game and do something else; which is most likely how the Monopoly movie will end as well.

Do you feel the same way about the Monopoly story concept or does hearing the plan of execution (again, pun-intended) get you really excited to see this film?

Monopoly is still currently untitled and is penciled in for a 2011 release.

Source: LA Times