After Barbie tackled the patriarchy, Margot Robbie’s Monopoly movie could take a shot at capitalism next

Margot Robbie’s production company LuckyChap, fresh off multiple Academy Award nominations for its blockbuster hit, Barbie, is taking on a new challenge — a film based on the board game Monopoly. The announcement was made Wednesday at CinemaCon. But unlike Barbie, where the climax centered around the toy’s original female creator as embodied by the diminutive Rhea Perlman, the circumstances behind the creation of Monopoly are fraught for an entirely different reason. Will LuckyChap rise to the occasion with another feel-good hit that opens the door to forgotten history, or will it work to further obscure the game’s origins?

In The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game, author Mary Pilon does an incredible job uncovering the secret history of Monopoly. Her investigation, published in 2015, reaffirms that Lizzie Magie, a staunch leftist in her day, invented and patented the precursor to Monopoly known as The Landlord’s Game in 1903. That board game was not a tale about the joys of capitalism, but its dangers, and while it was influential in progressive circles at the time it never became a commercial success. Only later, in the 1930s, would Magie’s work be used as the foundation for Charles B. Darrow’s Monopoly, the game that would find its way to Parker Brothers and, eventually, the vast catalog of intellectual property now owned by Hasbro. You can read more thanks to an excerpt published at The Guardian nearly a decade ago, but the book itself comes highly recommended.

Given that backstory, it makes sense that Robbie’s company would take a shine to the project. It’s yet another story of a woman sidelined by the machinations of corporate intrigue. But in the case of the original Barbie, the creator Ruth Handler was also the co-founder of Mattel. She greatly profited from her invention. Magie not so much, and, tragically, her original idea was perverted into the mirror opposite of her intent. It’s no less a troubling story than the generational traumas of American feminism, but it’s a very different tale that LuckyChap has to tell.

Further complicating the optics here is the fact that mere months ago Hasbro completed a draconian series of layoffs that eliminated just less than one-third of its labor force, a maneuver that was finalized exactly two weeks before Christmas 2023. In a way, those layoffs mirror the story of Monopoly itself, with those who performed the labor of creation becoming disenfranchised from the revenues that would have otherwise rewarded their success.

LuckyChap clearly has its work cut out for it. First it took on the patriarchy. Now it could have capitalism squarely in its sights. Will it flinch?

Via

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