It didn't take long for Arthur Shaw (
) to fleece investors out of countless millions. Transforming Shaw's Ponzi scheme into "Tower Heist" proved a bit more time-consuming.
Envisioned six years ago by
as an all-black take on "Ocean's Eleven" (with a hoped-for supporting cast of
), "Tower Heist," directed by
, slowly evolved into a multi-ethnic ensemble
about the staff of a luxury high-rise trying to recover their pilfered pension from a penthouse-dwelling swindler.
In the film that opens Nov. 4,
plays Josh Kovacs, the manager of a
apartment tower where the average digs run $5.6 million. When Kovacs learns that Shaw boosted his colleagues' savings and may have stashed $20 million somewhere in his home, he enlists three co-workers (
, Michael Peña,
), a down-on-his-luck tenant (
) and a none-too-slick thief (Murphy, playing a lesser role than first imagined) to turn the tables on the well-heeled thief.
As rewritten by "Ocean's" scribe Ted Griffin and Ratner's frequent "Rush Hour" collaborator
(the story is by Adam Cooper and Bill Collage), "Tower Heist" aims to mix quick-riff comedy with high-altitude thrills. "I wanted it to be really reminiscent of a 1970s heist film — 'The Hot Rock,' 'The Anderson Tapes.' It's character-driven, not just about some guys stealing something," said Ratner, who recently signed on to co-produce next year's