With the obvious exception of Clue, the idea of basing a movie on a board game is pretty laughable. Of course as long as the Battleships and the Ouijas continue to bring in hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office (which both did, inexplicably), Hollywood will keep churning them out. At this point, I’ve resigned myself to actively ignoring these childhood game adaptations, which has served me well: they can keep being made, and I can keep not remembering they exist. It’s win-win.
But then a loose synopsis for the Monopoly movie was released today, and so help me, I’m suddenly really looking for to this one. Until now, most of us had laughed off the idea of a movie about a little top hatted, mustachioed man, along with his good friends Shoe and Thimble, gentrifying New Jersey and occasionally being sent to jail. This movie has been in the works for what seems like forever, and at one point even had Ridley Scott attached to direct. (Presumably Park Place was full of aliens?) But now word is that the movie will be an origin story of the game, which sounds shockingly interesting. The source material comes from two books, The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game, and The Billion Dollar Monopoly Swindle.
The history of the game is not something I was familiar with, but it sounds fascinating. The Monopolists is about a board game called The Landlord’s Game, which was invented by an anti-monopolist named Elizabeth J. Magie Phillips in 1904. The game was meant to be “an educational tool to illustrate the negative aspects of concentrating land in private monopolies,” but which the Parker Brothers appropriated for their 1935 Monopoly game. The Billion Dollar Monopoly Swindle is about San Francisco State University professor (go Gators) Ralph Anspach’s 1973 response game Anti-Monopoly (and the decade-long lawsuit that followed).
While part of me really would love to see the sh*t show of a movie involving a shoe trying to buy hotel properties, cutthroat board game invention scandals sound like a much, much better story.