Dissecting the possibility of Rounders 2

MattDamon-pokerIt’s not very often that I write up a post based on comments, but I’m actually very glad that I did.

At the beginning of this year, I linked to a few entries about why all the poker bloggers seem to think that movies about playing poker suck, except for 1998’s Rounders—which starred Matt Damon as a wunderkind whose dream to make it to the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, Nevada gets sidetracked by a wisecracking Ed Norton and a bad beat at the hands of John Malkovich and is said by many to have been a major contributor to the rise of online poker.

In the comments to that entry, a reader named Gordon (who is not the same person as my dear editor) linked to a recent Matt Damon interview conducted by the folks at PokerListings.com as he was on the red carpet before the third annual “Ante up for Africa” charity poker tournament at the WSOP, where he, Ben Affleck, Mike Tyson, and others bumped elbows with bonafide professional poker players in an attempt to raise money for the victims of the violence in Darfur.

The “money quote” comes almost halfway through the video, where an unseen interviewer asks if there’s going to be a Rounders 2:

Damon: “I told [Brian] Koppleman and [David] Levien, the writers, that they should write it. They actually wrote Ocean’s 13 and we were sitting on the set one day and I said, “You guys wrote the wrong sequel; we should be in Costa Rica doing Rounders 2.

“I think that everybody would probably come back. The actors all had a really good time working together. I know Edward would want to do it. We had a blast working together. John Dahl, the director, I’m sure would like to do it. Maybe someday it’ll happen.”

However, and I am so ashamed for having missed this, not only has that script already been written, Damon and Norton might not have anything to do with it.

Back in June, /Film.com picked up the news that Paramount Pictures had optioned an untitled script by the duo, and that Leonardo diCaprio was attached to star, it would be produced through his Appian Way studio, and the story was all about (you guessed it!) the world of Costa Rican-based online casinos.

I really have no idea how the two could make a movie about Internet casinos compelling because all the action takes place online and it’s only when you get the online players out into “meatspace” do they become interesting. For example (and I hate to keep bringing her up) one of the best European poker players in the entire world is a girl named Annette Obrestad whom no one really knew when she was playing online as Annette15, but when she became the youngest person to ever a win a World Series of Poker live tournament event and the poker news media discovered that she’d been playing since she was 15 (hence, her handle) she became an instant celebrity.

There are tons of great stories surrounding the controversies surrounding online poker and why almost all of the casinos are now based in Costa Rica; the problem in turning it into a movie is that not even the poker media wants to cover that story, as Pokerati.com‘s California Jen wrote yesterday when Congressman Barney Frank arrived to hold a press conference about the future of online poker in the U.S.:

But while the general reception Frank received in the Amazon Room was positive, it also gave an indication of what kind of struggles his efforts face. Beyond having to deal with the self-promotional shenanigans of Phil Hellmuth and all he brings to the table in the name of poker (for better or worse), behind me on the rail were some poker players/fans/bigots who made hateful gay jokes during his entire short-but-semi-important speech.

Nearing the 1pm start of the press conference in the Full Tilt Chris Ferguson suite, there were about 5 reporters present. No kidding. By the time Frank began speaking, there were possibly twice that, excluding PPA representatives and Full Tilt Poker bigwigs. Of the 5-8 media outlets represented, ESPN got their headshot early and left, before the speech had hardly started.

Well, I’ll be definitely keeping my eye on this story, but am also not holding my breath that this unnamed project will be the next great poker movie.

Posted on July 6, 2009 at 06:01 by Trisha Lynn · Permalink
In: Around the Intertubes