The McDonald's Monopoly theft story reportedly becomes the highest priced optioned article in Hollywood. It tackles the story of former cop Jerry Jacobson cashing in an estimated $24 million after rigging the restaurant chain's popular marketing ploy by selling fake pieces. Between 1995 and 2000, Jacobson and his cohorts won almost all the top prizes tied to the said game. The fraud got so elaborate that investigations found that members of Colombo Mafia family may have even been involved in the ruse at one point.
It was recently reported that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon's production company Pearl Street Films and 20th Century Fox won the bidding war to acquire the online long-read, with the former directing and the latter starring. Scriptwriting duties, on the other hand, will rest on the shoulders of Deadpool franchise writing duo Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. But nabbing the rights to the narrative wasn't a walk in the park for the Good Will Hunting stars/writers. Not only did they have to best several other competitors, they also had to spend a lot of money to ensure their victory.
Vulture reports (via Comingsoon.net) that the bidding war for the McDonald's Monopoly theft story has set a brand new record in Hollywood with several movie studios wanting to nab its film rights just 72 hours after the original story was published. The Daily Beast article, which went live late last month, was authored by British-born Jeff Maysh, who had been developing the story with the goal of making it into a motion picture as early as 2016 in cooperation with independent movie and TV producer David Klawans. As it turns out, the story was optioned for $350,00 with an additional $1 million in case it gets adapted on the big screen which is reportedly the “highest price ever paid for an optioned article in Hollywood history.” For context, usual option fees for articles cost less than $1,000.
Among the list of high-profile bidders include Warner Bros. with Steve Carell lined up to star and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot co-directors John Requa and Glenn Ficarra attached to direct; Universal also wanted in with plans to put Kevin Hart as the lead. Veteran filmmaker Martin Scorsese (who joined the bidding war late) expressed interest in the project with the idea of Leonardo DiCaprio playing the Jacobson, while Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment attempted to acquire the rights as well. Meanwhile, Netflix tried to close the deal on behalf of Robert Downey Jr. and director Todd Phillips. In the end, Fox and Pearl Street Films emerged as the winners.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether or not Affleck and Damon can do the project justice, but with the two's good working relationship, the public has high hopes for the film. Affleck, in particular, has a good track record directing movies based on real-life events, with 2012's Argo earning widespread critical praise (including an Oscar win for Best Picture). Coincidentally, the political-thriller was also borne from Klawans' method of in-depth researching about obscure news pieces with the help of veteran journalists, and repackaging them as a potential movie project.
We'll keep you updated on the McDonald's Monopoly movie as more information becomes available.