Now that the film Monopoly has been announced by the game’s owner, Hasbro, headquartered in Pawtucket, R.I., one can imagine where it might be shot. Of course, the street names that make up the most memorable aspect of the game are from Atlantic City. Monopoly was invented in 1903 and popularized by Parker Bros. during the Depression. Since then, more than a billion people have played it in 114 countries around the world.
Today’s Providence Journal ran a tiny slice of a Variety article, “‘Monopoly’ Movie Going Forward with Lionsgate.” It mentioned that Hasbro’s home city is in Rhode Island, but the editors – I assume they still operate out of the newspaper’s longstanding headquarters in Fountain Street – seemed unaware of both the powerful local connection and of the film’s potentially immense popular appeal. They gave it a paltry three inches on page 10 under a squib headlined “Nortek buys $12M in Numera assets.” Go figure, huh?!
Given Hollywood these days, who would not be surprised if the entire movie is “filmed” in an animation studio owned by Pixar? If any of it is shot on location, however, I’d like it to be in Pawtucket. Why? Well there’s this obvious reason: “There once was a shoot in Pawtucket/Which is known by its nickname The Bucket/The actors wore latex/They got cheap at Apex/After painting the town they said fuck it.”
Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebian, who recently bested “creative capital” Providence by hiring its PR team locally, may craft his own limerick. Perhaps he will choose to feature, in the final line, the supposedly impending absquatulation to Providence of Pawtucket’s AAA Boston Red Sox farm team, the Pawsox. For some reason, ribald limericks have long been a staple of Pawtucket pride. They can take away its baseball team but they can’t take away its rhyme scheme.
The plot of the Monopoly movie is said to revolve around a poor boy growing up on Baltic Avenue who seeks to improve his lot in life. Readers of this blog will expect to see him installed, eventually, in a classical mansion suitable to its location on Park Place or Boardwalk – though the latter may be aesthetically problematic with its excessive trumpery.
The screenplay is being written by Andrew Niccol, who wrote The Truman Show, filmed in Seaside, Fla. The beauty of the new town, built on New Urbanist principles that revive old-style urbanism, played a major role in that film. As virtually a character in the movie, Seaside was cast as a place whose loveliness was so surreal that it seemed the natural setting for an unreal but ominously serene place.
An earlier proposed version of Monopoly was to have been produced by Ridley Scott, whose settings for Blade Runner are the polar opposite of Seaside in The Truman Show. Perhaps gritty Pawtucket might have made a stronger bid for the location of the film had its producer been the auteur who introduced an urbanism of grit into our idea of the future.