11th Movie of Brewster’s Millions Lands B*A*P*S Director

By  · Published on March 2nd, 2015

Universal Pictures

Whenever there’s been talk of another Brewster’s Millions, I’ve used it as evidence that remakes are neither a new trend nor necessarily a bad idea. Technically, though, none of the nine versions since the first one is a remake so much as it’s just another adaptation of the 1902 novel by George Barr McCutcheon. Hollywood and Indian filmmakers have simply mined from the book of the same name multiple times, no different than how there’ve been numerous movies of “Hamlet,” “The Wizard of Oz” and “Cinderella.” But “Brewster’s Millions” isn’t as famous in literary form as a classic story. Today, most people recognize the title for the 1985 take starring Richard Pryor and John Candy.

An 11th adaptation has been in development for a while now, and it seemed an especially appropriate time during the recent financial crisis. But this is a tale that works in prosperous times or economic depressions. The further we come out of the recession, the fantasy associated with Montgomery Brewster, who has to quickly spend a huge sum of money to inherit an even larger amount, remains identifiable for millions of moviegoers worldwide. At least we’re seeing the new adaptation move ahead finally, as Variety reports that Robert Townsend has been hired to direct the movie.

That’s a name I haven’t heard much since about the time the Pryor version was still in regular rotation on television. Townsend is best known for helming Hollywood Shuffle and Eddie Murphy: Raw, both released in 1987. He followed that double-shot directorial breakout with The Five Heartbeats and the superhero comedy The Meteor Man, both of which he starred in, then B*A*P*S, a rags-to-riches feature starring Halle Berry that is probably the closest thing thematically to Townsend’s new gig. But it’s a later movie that has me dreaming of this next Brewster’s Millions being something special.

In 2001, Townsend directed Beyonce in her acting debut in the TV musical Carmen: A Hip Hopera. Now I’m wishing for them to reunite through the casting of the singer in the lead, as Brewster. It would be fabulous, and there is precedent of the story being told with a female protagonist. Paramount’s 1926 adaptation was actually titled Miss Brewster’s Millions and starred Bebe Daniels in the lead. After ten times, most of those versions still available and enjoyable, this is the only solution for how to make this one the biggest and probably the best.

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.