It appears director Todd Phillips is about to get serious for the first time after he's done with his upcoming comedy trilogy. In a surprise announcement, and what will be the first dramatic feature-length effort of his career, THR is reporting that Phillips is taking over "The Gambler" from Martin Scorsese and will make it his first post-"The Hangover Part III" project.
A remake of Karel Reisz's 1974 film "The Gambler," the original starred James Caan, Lauren Hutton and was written by James Toback as a loose adaptation of the Fyodor Dostoyevsky story of the same name. "The Departed" scribe William Monahan penned the script and in Scorsese's iteration of the movie, his muse Leonardo DiCaprio would have starred. That's likely not going to be the case now even though producer Irwin Winkler is still on board.
The 1974 film told the tale of a successful English professor who succumbs to a gambling addition, which forces him to extort money from his mother and convince one of his students to shave points in a basketball game. As he gets in deeper and deeper and completely loses his moral compass, the man becomes more and more spiritually depraved. Frankly, "The Gambler" is the perfect type of film to remake. The original is excellent, but vastly underseen, and it could stand for a modern update.
While Phillips is known for "Old School" and his "The Hangover" films, the director did start off as a rather serious documentarian, making films on punk legend G.G. Allin ("Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies") and the banned-before-it-ever-aired-on-HBO doc "Frat House" (the participants of which claimed they were paid to re-enact their activities, but Phillips said last year they were inebriated when signing releases).
Phillips also has four projects on the backburner at WB via his Green Hat shingle, but those projects were very Todd Phillips, if you will, so clearly "The Gambler" and the chance to get serious is the most exciting prospect at the moment. "The Hangover Part III" shoots in September and then when that picture's in theaters and off to bed next year (May 24, 2013), Phillips will turn his eye to his new drama. A scene from the original below.