He's one of the most recognizable, controversial and entrepreneurial figures of the last fifty years and now Hugh Hefner's story will finally be getting a big screen adaptation courtesy of Brett Ratner, director of X-Men: The Last Stand and the Rush Hour series. Hefner is, of course, the man behind the Playboy company, an enterprise which begun as a magazine and grew into a hugely lucrative brand producing clothes, jewelry and much more.
Ratner has been itching to work on a feature film chronicling Hefner's journey for a while now and there have been several attempts to get the project off the ground by a variety of different studios. Brian Grazer took a stab at a Hefner biopic with Oliver Stone for Universal Studios which Ratner himself was on board to direct, with Robert Downey Jr. and Hugh Jackman being considered for the lead role. Unable to hammer out a script, the project was snapped up by Warner Bros. who encountered similar problems but Ratner retained his faith in the concept.
According to Deadline, Ratner's RatPac Entertainment company has now secured the rights to produce a biopic on this polarizing figure's life and the project will be spearheaded by Ratner himself alongside Hefner and his Playboy company. Joining Ratner and Hef on the production team will be John Cheng, Dick Rosenzweig and Peter Jaysen. Regarding the announcement, Hefner said:
“In recent years there has been plenty of interest and much conversation about doing a feature film based on my life. I have always believed that when the timing was truly right, the perfect creative partners would come together for this project. I believe we’ve found those partners in Brett Ratner and RatPac Entertainment. I’m very much looking forward to this collaboration.”
Brett Ratner himself adds:
“Hugh Hefner started a sexual revolution from behind the walls of his legendary mansion by using the pages of Playboy Magazine and his own infamous lifestyle to build a global empire that included publishing, clubs, casinos and television networks.”
Currently, Ratner appears to be on board in a producing role only, meaning another figure may be drafted in to direct. A writer is expected to be announced soon. Unfortunately for those who are eager for a movie insight into the goings on at the Playboy Mansion, the announcement seems to infer that the biopic will focus on Hefner's earlier years and his transformation from conservatively-raised youngster to a self-made millionaire who had a significant impact on the portrayal of nudity and sex in the printed media.
As divisive as Hefner's contributions to society are, it's impossible to deny that his life is an interesting and unusual story begging to be told. Many people see the Playboy founder as a rich old-timer that doesn't change out of his robe and slippers and pays attractive young women to live with him. Whilst all that may be true, there's plenty more history to the man that isn't widely known and Ratner will have a vast source of material to draw from.
With that said, it could be argued that now perhaps isn't the best time to be producing such a feature, as Playboy's public image is certainly not as healthy as it once was. Now under the leadership of Hefner's son, Playboy made the decision to stop publishing nudity in the face of pressure from equal rights and feminist groups, however, it was recently announced that this was to be reversed. Even those who don't find Playboy's material offensive likely see the company as dated and out of touch in the modern era but perhaps the biopic will help restore Hefner's reputation.
The currently-untitled Hugh Hefner biopic is in the early stages of pre-production.