It seems that producer-director Brett Ratner is all set to achieve a long-held ambition, now that his RatPac Entertainment company has secured the life rights of Hugh Hefner. The Hollywood powerhouse has spent years attempting to get a Hefner project across the finish line in conjunction with various movie studios, but has now positioned himself firmly in the driver’s seat of what looks to be an interesting take on the story of the legendary playboy.
Hugh Hefner – now in his 90th year – is a former journalist and World War II veteran who launched Playboy magazine in 1953 with funds he raised himself. Since the inaugural issue included nude pictures of Marilyn Monroe, it was an immediate success, and led to the creation of the multi-million dollar multimedia business empire, Playboy Enterprises. Six decades later, that empire comprises publishing, television, internet, and radio outlets. Though the famous range of Playboy clubs, hotels, and casinos have closed their doors, the company is planning to open a new store franchise in the coming years.
So, Hefner’s legacy continues to evolve, and is one that’s credited by some with helping to spearhead both the sexual revolution of the 1960s, and the support of socially progressive creative writing and journalism. While the latter can hardly be disputed, the former has made Hefner a divisive and controversial figure to many – with accusations of his promotion of the objectification of women being levelled as often as arguments supporting his work.
For his part, Hugh Hefner is sure that his life story is the right hands with Brett Ratner.
“In recent years there has been plenty of interest and much conversation about doing a feature film based on my life. I have always believed that when the timing was truly right, the perfect creative partners would come together for this project. I believe we’ve found those partners in Brett Ratner and RatPac Entertainment. I’m very much looking forward to this collaboration.”
Ratner, meanwhile, continues to focus his attention on the lesser-told aspects of Hefner’s story, which lend themselves to a gripping narrative.
“Hugh Hefner started a sexual revolution from behind the walls of his legendary mansion by using the pages of Playboy Magazine and his own infamous lifestyle to build a global empire that included publishing, clubs, casinos and television networks.
“Hefner cared about civil rights, women’s rights, the preservation of the arts, jazz…his magazine featured interviews with important leaders from Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. And with one stroke of genius he changed sexuality in America.”
Whether audience members view Hugh Hefner as a help or hindrance to social progress, this project will undoubtedly be a fascinating piece of work about a man whose life has had a measurable impact upon the world – once a writer and director are in place. Now that the deal is confirmed, we may well hear those announcements soon.