Tower Heist is a 2011 American heist comedy film directed by Brett Ratner and written by Ted Griffin and Jeff Nathanson, based on a story by Bill Collage, Adam Cooper and Griffin. The plot follows Josh Kovaks (Ben Stiller), Charlie Gibbs (Casey Affleck) and Enrique Dev'reaux (Michael Peña), employees of an exclusive apartment building who lose their pensions in the Ponzi scheme of Wall Street businessman Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda). The group enlist the aid of criminal Slide (Eddie Murphy), bankrupt businessman Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick) and another employee of the apartment building, Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe), to break into Shaw's apartment and steal back their money while avoiding the FBI agent in charge of his case, Claire Denham (Téa Leoni).
Tower Heist began development as early as 2005, based on an idea by Murphy that would star himself and an all-black cast of comedians as a heist group who rob Trump International Hotel and Tower. As the script developed and changed into an Ocean's Eleven–style caper, Murphy left the project. Ratner continued to develop the idea into what would eventually become Tower Heist, with Murphy later rejoining the production. Filming took place entirely in New York City on a budget of $75 million (after tax rebates), with several buildings provided by Donald Trump used to represent the eponymous tower. The film score was composed by Christophe Beck and released commercially on November 1, 2011.
The film received mixed reviews with much of the praise going to the cast, including Broderick, Leoni and Stiller. However, Murphy was repeatedly singled out by critics as the star of the film, with critics feeling that he displayed a welcome return to the comedic style of his early career. Much of the criticism received by the film was focused on the plot, which was considered "formulaic," "rushed," "dull" and "laborious." The film was released on November 4, 2011 and earned $152 million worldwide.
Prior to release, the film was involved in a controversy over plans by Universal Pictures to release it for home viewing on video on demand to 500,000 Comcast customers, only three weeks after its theatrical debut. Concern over the implementation's harming ticket sales and inspiring further films to follow suit resulted in several theater chains' refusal to show the film at all if the plan went ahead, forcing Universal to abandon the idea.
Production: Universal Pictures