EXCLUSIVE: Fox is poised to win the hot lit property in the marketplace at the moment, a giant Happy Meal that everyone wanted. Ben Affleck is attached to direct and Matt Damon to star in a true-crime story written by Jeff Maysh and published in The Daily Beast several days ago about an ex-cop who rigged the McDonald’s Monopoly game, allegedly stealing over $24 million and sharing it with an unsavory group of co-conspirators who offered kickbacks to the mastermind. The Pearl Street partners will produce with David Klawans, latter of whom got rights to the article and was exec veep on the Affleck-directed Best Picture Oscar winner Argo. Deadpool scribes Paul Wernick & Rhett Reese will write the script. Deal was a $350,000 option against $1 million if the film gets made. Affleck, Damon and the screenwriters get paid a lot more than that.
Sources said that bidding was ferocious for Maysh’s How An Ex-Cop Rigged McDonald’s Monopoly Game And Stole Millions. Lining up to bid were Universal for Kevin Hart, Warner Bros for John Requa & Glenn Ficarra and Steve Carell and producer Andrew Lazar, and Netflix, which bid for producing partners Eric Newman & Bryan Unkeless, Robert Downey Jr & Susan Downey, and Todd Phillips. The auction was handled by IPG’s Joel Gotler, who repped Maysh.
The article opens in 2001 in Rhode Island, as a million-dollar check is delivered to a man who said he’d won the $1 million grand prize after collecting Monopoly pieces attached to food products, defying the 1-in-250 million odds and modeled after the venerable board game that the piece says was invented as a warning about the destructive nature of greed. A camera crew was dispatched to hear how the man won, and they chronicled his series of lies. They were FBI agents closing in on a sting that began with a tip about an “Uncle Jerry,” who’d sell stolen game pieces. Solid detective work unearthed Jerry Jacobson, a head of security for a Los Angeles company responsible for generating the game pieces. It led to a wide conspiracy that involved mobsters, psychics, strip-club owners, drug traffickers and a family of Mormons who falsely claimed to have won more than $24 million in cash and prizes.
Pearl Street veep Madison Ainley brought in the project and will shepherd it for Pearl Street. Matt Reilly will steer it for Fox. Reilly worked with Affleck on The Town when he was an exec at Warner Bros before moving to Fox.
IPG brokered the sale, and WME reps Affleck and Damon, and Reese & Wernick.