In the history of scratched movie titles, Trump Heist might be among the most intriguing of missed opportunities.
As it turns out, Brett Ratner’s 2011 comedy Tower Heist was originally titled just that. The film began its life as an Eddie Murphy pitch about a ragtag group of disgruntled employees who plot to rob Donald Trump (yes, seriously). After multiple drafts and at least six writers, the plot’s villain morphed into a more generic greedy billionaire played by Alan Alda who lives atop “The Tower” (exteriors were shot at the Trump International Hotel & Tower, while Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue was used for a key scene in an underground parking garage).
Though Trump may be radioactive in Hollywood now, at the time, his participation was seen as a selling point. The film’s production notes touted his involvement and offered this tidbit: “With the cooperation of Donald Trump, who allowed the production access to several of his high-end properties, the filmmakers were able to incorporate true luxury locales in the film. … The real-estate mogul made a point of visiting the set during a break from taping his television series, The Celebrity Apprentice, several floors up to see how Ratner and the cast were faring.”
As for Ratner, he regrets that Trump Heist didn’t stick. “In retrospect, it would have been a bigger hit if it had been called Trump Heist,” he tells THR of the Universal film that earned $153 million worldwide. With a title like that, the so-called Resistance would likely propel the film to cult status, savoring that the president gets his comeuppance. Even if it’s in a fictional world.
A version of this story first appeared in the June 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.