In Hollywood, you’re only as good as your last movie, and with Russell Brand‘s first bonafide leading man vehicle “Arthur” opening at number three this spring and then fading fast from theaters, it seems some heat has fallen off Mr. Katy Perry. Meanwhile, Ben Stiller continues to be a moneymaker (at least when you stick him in mainstream fare). “Little Fockers,” as wretched as it was, still made over $300 million worldwide. “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian“? More than $400 million around the globe. So it’s no surprise that the folks behind the gestating movie version of the TV show “Rentaghost” would prefer one name much more than the other.
Variety reports that Stiller is now the leading role for the film that was first announced last year as a vehicle for Brand. If you have no idea what “Rentaghost” is that’s probably because you’re not from the U.K. and didn’t watch the show when it aired in the ’70s and ’80s. Described as a “Beetlejuice” styled romp, the story follows “Fred Mumford, a recently deceased guy determined to be more productive as a corpse than he was during his life as a slacker. He attempts to set himself up in a business with a couple of other ghouls, starting a temp agency for the dead. Mumford and cohorts rent out ghouls and ghosts to the living, until things go awry.” Further suiting the movie to Stiller’s needs, “Night at the Museum” team of Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant are writing the screenplay and if it isn’t obvious yet, this will probably ditch any Brit flavor something more broadly appealing.
While there will be some BBC purists horrified by Stiller taking on a role originated in the U.K., as far as we know, “Rentaghost” isn’t exactly sacred ground (correct us if we’re wrong) and it seems like a decent enough premise for a blockbuster style movie which is clearly the direction its going in given the talent now on board. Can’t say we’re too excited for this as we wish Stiller would go back doing more inspired material (can’t say we’re overly stoked on “Neighborhood Watch” either though Stiller and Vaughn should be good for a laugh or two). Hell, this digital short from “Saturday Night Live” over the weekend is the funniest stuff he’s done in a looong time.