David Dobkin Directing Hugh Hefner Biopic for Warner Bros.

Hugh Hefner

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner has cropped up in quite a few movies and shows over the decades. Sometimes, he’s played by himself, as in Entourage, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and The House Bunny; other times, actors are called upon to play younger versions of him, as in The Playboy Club and Lovelace.

But those have all been supporting roles or cameos. Now, he’s finally getting a biopic all to himself. David Dobkin is reportedly in talks with Warner Bros. to direct, from a script by Peter Morgan (Rush). Hit the jump for all the details on the project.

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For years, Imagine Entertainment and Universal worked to make a biopic about Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, with Brett Ratner attached to direct and actors like Robert Downey, Jr. and Hugh Jackman mentioned as possible picks to play the magazine mogul. But the closest Hef has come to creating a starring role on the big screen is a James Franco cameo in Lovelace, which has Amanda Seyfried as porn star turned anti-porn icon Linda Lovelace.

But that Hugh Hefner biopic has now moved to Warner Bros., where it will be produced by Jerry Weintraub, the producer who once worked with Elvis, Sinatra and Dylan, and helped make Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s films at WB. Read More »

Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: I celebrate all levels of trailers and hopefully this column will satisfactorily give you a baseline of what beta wave I’m operating on, because what better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? Some of the best authors will tell you that writing a short story is a lot harder than writing a long one, that you have to weigh every sentence. What better medium to see how this theory plays itself out beyond that than with movie trailers?

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Diablo Cody Writing The Playboy Movie?

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I can see how Brett Ratner and Hugh Hefner would go together like compact mirrors and rolled up banknotes, and Robert Downey Jr. can easily sit at the same table with me only feeling a vague sense of disappointment and not weird awkardness but… Diablo Cody? The Hef himself has this week had a meeting with Cody “to talk about the Brian Grazer Playboy film”. Would I ever be able to look at that credits roll without singing “One of these kids is doing their own thing”?

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Brett Ratner Directs Hugh Hefner

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As you know, Brett Ratner has been developing Playboy, a big screen biography of Hugh Hefner. Announced in 2007, we’ve heard nothing about this project in a while. This week I came across a new television commercial directed by Ratner, featuring Hefner. Oh yeah, and a dozen Playboy Playmates too. Of course, it’s just another one of those hack parodies of the Tom Cruise / Risky Business scene. You wouldn’t expect anything really creative from Ratner, would you?

I also discovered some behind the scenes b-roll footage on YouTube, and noticed that Ratner is seen talking on his cellphone while the girls do their thing in front of the cameras. It is unclear if they were actually filming or just doing a rehearsal. For Ratner’s sake, I hope it was just a rehearsal. I can’t think of anything more obnoxious than a hack director talking on a cellphone during the filming of a scene.
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“Grotto!?!”

Over the last six months, I’ve had four unrelated sources tell me off the record that Robert Downey Jr. was a total lock to star in a Hugh Hefner biopic entitled Playboy. Of course, this was before Iron Man‘s grosses went interstellar. Chicago’s Sun Times now reports that the actor is close to signing on, even though the original director, Brett Ratner, is purportedly no longer attached, but may circle back (I bet.) for producer Brian Grazer.

Would Marvel Studios be cool with Downey Jr. playing a porn magnate? The company recently tossed out the R-rating, so it might be iffy territory. In my view, Tony Stark is not exactly Clark Kent, and this role would only increase Downey’s mainstream visibility. Moreover, Hefner’s story is not mired in smut like a Larry Flynt or a Bob Guccinone–it’s by far the more mainstream rags-to-riches tale. But some people in the know have serious doubts. Is the box office there for this movie? Does Downey need to risk it? Will the film hold relevance in the quickening era of YouPorn and Xtube? They have a point (Playboy is venturing into the gay biz for a reason).

The Sun Times reports that Downey’s people have emphasized that nothing is final until a script and/or director is finalized. As you might expect, there are certain unprecedented benefits to playing this role. We’ll see what happens. Tropic Thunder, which looks to be a huge hit, will only strengthen Downey’s demands and demand.

Discuss: Should Downey take the role or pass? Are you interested in seeing the story of Hugh Hefner?  

“Mayonaise. Nom nom nom.”

ism.jpgPssssssst, put your ear up to the monitor. Here that? That’s the sound of so many strikes at a bowling alley. Brett Ratner and Eddie Murphy: together at last for a presumably plastic potty-humored family comedy! Ratner is in talks to helm a remake of the 1957 movie The Incredible Shrinking Man for Universal, with Murphy circling the lead. The script is by Thomas Lennon and Reno 9-11‘s Robert Ben Garant (The Pacifier, Night at the Museum), and HR reports that it tells the tale of a Las Vegas magician who falls under a spell that causes him to lure ’00s Eddie Murphy gradually shrink to the point of disappearing. Brian Grazer will produce.

In related but not related discussion, where this leaves Ratner’s biopic about Hugh Hefner is unforeseen. Rick Moranis has not yet chimed in on his feelings about Ratner invading his “shrink” territory. I predict $200 million at the box office, and $230 mill if there’s a talking dog, cat, bumble bee and/or Murphy rides on top of said creatures. Sleep soundly tonight imagining what Ratner’s vision for a “Las Vegas magician” will look like.

Discuss: If you were forced to choose between watching one Ratner movie Clockwork Orange-style non-stop for three months or lopping off your pinkie after four huge margaritas, which? And Money Talks is excluded.

 

harbinger12.jpgDoes big time studio director Brett Ratner lie around the Grotto half-naked with Hugh Hefner and his Bunnies while searching through ancient Valiant comic books for his next franchise? If not, did an assistant bring him a copy of Harbinger and if so, why not a copy of Turok Dinosaur Hunter or X-O Manowar instead? I mean, at least those forgotten Valiant series had snazzy holographic covers. The world may never know or care.

Ratner (X-Men: The Last Stand), who is currently toying around with a Hefner biopic entitled Playboy, is attached to direct a Harbinger feature film for Paramount Pictures, with MTV Films circling the project as well. The discontinued ’90s comic series followed a group of angst-stricken teenagers called Harbingers who had superpowers, the catch being that these teens’ powers had to be unlocked by more experienced “omega” harbingers. Conflict arises when one teen Harbinger must face his omega mentor, an evaaal industrialist.

“The movie is in the vein of a young ‘Blade Runner,’ as this 17-year- old gifted kid helps other kids tap into these parts of their brains,” said producer Alexandra Milchan.

A “new, young Blade Runner” aside, reportedly one reason why The Rat took interest in the series is that he wants to create a (possibly suck-worthy) comic book film franchise from the ground up. According to Variety, Valiant Comics is set for a comeback after its extensive library was purchased by a private company that will apparently kick-start the better known titles. I’m guessing Harbinger will be one of those, though it definitely wasn’t the most popular Valiant comic when it was around.

Discuss: Only one person can comment on this post and that is the one dude/lady out there who has been waiting for an unlikely Harbinger movie for more than a decade. Dude/lady, Slashfilm is really happy for you, comment away all of your hibernating excitement.

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