Director Brett Ratner has revealed that his 2011 comedy thriller ‘Tower Heist’ originally had a slightly different title and premise – which would likely have made the film a bit more of a talking point in 2017.
‘Tower Heist’ starred Ben Stiller as the manager of an apartment building, who, with the assistance of a small-time thief played by Eddie Murphy, leads the staff of the building in a robbery on a corrupt Wall Street billionaire (Alan Alda) who embezzled their pensions.
However, it seems the initial plan had been rather different. Ratner tells The Hollywood Reporter that the ‘Ocean’s 11’-esque film (co-starring Matthew Broderick, Téa Leoni and future Oscar-winner Casey Affleck) had originally been entitled ‘Trump Heist.’
As the name suggests, the film would have centred on a group of disgruntled employees of Donald Trump, who take revenge on their boss by robbing Trump Tower.
The idea for the film came from Murphy, and it seems that Trump himself – always keen for publicity – was all for it. Although script rewrites ultimately removed Trump as a character from the script, the controversial billionaire (in no way involved in politics at the time) remained closely involved with the film.
‘Tower Heist’ used New York’s Trump International Hotel and Tower and Trump Tower as shooting locations, and – according to the production notes from the film’s original publicity campaign – Trump “allowed the production access to several of his high-end properties,” enabling the filmmakers to “incorporate true luxury locales in the film.”
It’s also stated that “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.”
‘Tower Heist’ proved a box office flop on release, taking just shy of $153 million worldwide off a $75 million budget, and for his part Ratner regrets the title change, remarking, “In retrospect, it would have been a bigger hit if it had been called ‘Trump Heist.‘”
Quite how the film would play today under that title is another matter entirely – and a tantalising ‘what if’ question.
Prior to being elected President of the United States (and public enemy number one to most of Hollywood), Donald Trump made numerous film and TV cameo appearances as himself, most famously in ‘Home Alone 2: Lost in New York,’ ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,’ and in Ben Stiller’s earlier film ‘Zoolander.’