Recently, when we reported that Ben Affleck and Fox had picked up the rights to the McDonald’s Monopoly scam story that Jeff Maysh wrote about for The Daily Beast, we noted that it must’ve involved a “really fast and really intense bidding war” since Affleck and Fox had snatched up the rights just a few days after the piece was published. According to Vulture, the “all-out bidding war” was actually even more dramatic than we assumed, with Warner Bros. trying to buy the rights for a movie with Steve Carell, Netflix trying to buy the rights for Robert Downey Jr. and Todd Phillips, Universal jumping in on behalf of Kevin Hart, and Martin Scorsese making a late bid in hopes of putting together a starring vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio. Vulture even says that Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, and Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment had all made plays of their own.
“I didn’t know there were so many producers in Los Angeles,” Maysh said in an interview with Vulture, adding, “anyone who’d ever thought about becoming a producer emailed me. I was getting literally thousands of emails.” In the end, a $1 million bid from Affleck won the day, and the current plan is for him to direct, with Matt Damon starring and Deadpool’s Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick writing the script. Apparently, though, this Hollywood twist is exactly what Maysh and movie producer David Klawans were planning from the beginning.
Vulture explains that Klawans has a reputation in Hollywood for doing “meticulous research” with “countless niche journals, RSS feeds, police blogs, library microfiche, and clippings from news outlets” all in hopes of stumbling onto wild true stories like the McDonald’s Monopoly scam. He then uses a small team of journalists to do more research on stories with potential, and then they’ll pitch long-form articles about this stuff to “reputable magazines, newspapers, and websites.”
Supposedly, Hollywood studios are much more likely to buy up the rights to something like this if a writer has already arranged it into an interesting piece of reporting with a “linear narrative and three-act structure” (this is how Argo happened, as Klawans was also a producer on that). To Maysh’s credit, he even worked out a deal with The Daily Beast so he’d retain the rights to the story in the event that its adaptation rights were ever, say, bought by Ben Affleck for $1 million, so this plan really couldn’t have worked out better.
Now we just have to sit back until someone comes along to pay Vulture for the rights to this story about that story, and then it will only be a matter of time before Martin Scorsese buys the rights to this story about that story about the other story.