Deadline Hollywood first reported and Variety confirmed that Universal Pictures has won a bidding war for the script Humbug, which will be a modern take on the timeless Charles Dickens story, A Christmas Carol.
The movie, it is widely reported, will star gansta rap icon Ice Cube in the title role. He will play a crusty mega-wealthy humbug who is visited by three ghosts representing his past, present and future.
Reports also say that Ice Cube is about to break into the big time as a bonafide A-List Hollywood star by signing an eight-figure contract (at least $10 million) to do the film.
Ice Cube is coming off a string of successful ventures. The biopic about the N.W.A, Straight Outta Compton, was the No. 1 domestic draw for three consecutive weekends and has grossed more than $156 million to date.
The rapper has found a solid niche in Hollywood, playing more bark than bite grouchy characters, such as Captain Dickson in the film 21 Jump Street and Detective James Payton in the comedy Ride Along. To date, he has had roles in at least 35 feature films.
The new Scrooge comes from a screenplay written by Todd R. Jones and Earl Ritchey Jones that was purchased by Relativity Media. But the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this year, which meant the script was up for grabs.
Humbug, as it stands, also has a director on board: Tim Story, who worked with Ice Cube in the first Barbershop film and in Ride Along. The two are currently working together on Ride Along 2. A third sequel for Barbershop is also in production, but Story is not directing that one.
We shall see what the rapper can do with the character based on Ebeneezer Scrooge, the miserly grump in the Charles Dickens novella — perhaps the world’s most recognizable curmudgeon.
He is also one of the more bankable characters in Hollywood history. Scrooge has resurfacing over the years in animation, in straight remakes of the Dicken’s story and dozens, if not hundreds, of spin-offs.
Matthew McConaughey re-invented the role, playing Conner “Dutch” Mead, a fashion photographer who had become overly cynical (and famously successful) with his love life in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009). The role was also done by Bill Murray playing a mean-spirited television executive named Frank Cross in the 1988 comedy Scrooged.
But if you like London in the dreary, old days, there are many versions of A Christmas Carol on film that hold to the original story line. The character, who hates Christmas and whose most famous line is simply, “Bah-humbug!” has been played by Lionel and John Barrymore, Orson Welles, John Caradine, Fredric March, Basil Rathbone, Michael Caine, James Earle Jones, Walter Matthau, Jack Parlance, Tim Curry, Patrick Stewart and Jim Carrey, just to name a few of those listed in a Wikipedia entry on the character.
It was also done famously by children’s book author Dr. Seuss with The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. A classic in its own right, the book tells the story of the very Scrooge-like Grinch who steals all the Christmas presents in Whoville, before undergoing a tearful change of heart.