Big Beach Mounts ‘Monopolists:’ Howard Rodman To Script Board Game Drama

EXCLUSIVE: Big Beach is developing a film about the origins of the most popular board game in history – Monopoly. Big Beach producers Marc Turtletaub and Peter Saraf have partnered with Diane Nabatoff to produce a film based on Mary Pilon’s best selling non-fiction book The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game. The book told the unknown story behind the iconic game and the David and Goliath story of S.F. State University economist Ralph Anspach, who invented the game Anti-Monopoly as a cry against rampant capitalism, and was promptly sued by Parker Brothers. That’s the company that minted money with the Monopoly game that, Pilon discovered, was itself invented by Elizabeth Magie, a stenographer who hatched The Landlords Game to lash out against slumlords and other monopolists of the early 20th Century. She sold her rights for $500, with no residuals. The movie will also use Anspach’s book, The Billion Dollar Monopoly (R) Swindle, which recounts the story from his perspective.

Howard RodmanHoward A. Rodman, who scripted Joe Gould’s Secret and is the president of The Writers Guild of America West, will turn all this into a movie script. Gersh, Code, and Michael Donaldson made his deal. Hollywood has long been trying to use the actual board game as the basis for a film, but maybe this unauthorized angle is the way that such a movie will actually pass go.

Big Beach’s Turtletaub and Saraf called the story “a rich tale full of fascinating characters and an unexpected origin story behind the beloved game,” and Nabatoff said the book will turn the concept of the popular board game “on its head. No one will ever look at the Monopoly board in the same way again.”

Big Beach, best known for Little Miss Sunshine, has the Naomi Watts, Elle Fanning and Susan Sarandon pic About Ray coming, and is in production on the Jeff Nichols-directed Loving, with Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga starring as Richard and Mildred Loving, whose incarceration in Virginia for entering into an interracial marriage sparked the seminal 1967 civil rights case.

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