Narrator: You’ve all seen it. The film that defined a generation and broke all box office records. Now, know the story behind the scenes. This is the True Hollywood Story of RPS:Rock, Paper, Scissors.
In the winter of 2006, four young men got together to make a film…a film about a game.
Dave: (Wearing a top hat and monocle) I wrote the script thinking it would be nothing more than an inside joke. Imagine that someone’s life is destroyed based on the outcome of rock paper scissors. It’s silly…or so I thought.
Narrator: When they decided to post their short film on Youtube, it only took a few days to receive a million views. It became an internet phenomenon. Soon, every news outlet in the world was broadcasting it. For the boys, it was a wild ride of interviews and offers.
John: (Smoking a cigarette and wearing an eye patch) We didn’t know what to make of it. One day we’re normal people, and the next we’re worldwide celebrities. Every studio wanted a piece of us. But Dave didn’t want any part of it.
Dave: I was afraid of what the fame and money would do to us. And I believed in the pure artistic vision of our 4 minute and 28 second short. But in the end, none of us could resist the pressure from all sides. We had to make our movie.
Narrator: Brendon Lange and Chris Cavalieri were more receptive.
Brendon: (Wearing a lab coat) I told the guys, “This is our opportunity!” We would be fools to pass it up… (Looks away from the camera) Fools.
Chris: (from a 2007 interview) It seemed completely out of our hands. Nevertheless, we were happy.
Narrator: The film was picked up by Twentieth Century Fox. It had a budget of 350 million. After a grueling casting process the studio decided to have Tom Cruise in place of Dave, Will Smith in place of Brendon, Keanu Reeves in place of John, and Steven Seagal in place of Chris. When it was released, it grossed 240 million in its first weekend. Over the next two months it would go on to gross 23 billion worldwide. In its wake, RPS crippled every other major studio, and changed the face of entertainment forever.
Dave: We weren’t sure about the 380 minute run-time, but audiences didn’t seem to mind. Some people, I’m told, purchased homes closer to the theater in order to be near the film.
Narrator: The awards seemed to rain down from heaven. RPS won 36 Oscars, and even led to the creation of more categories. But not everyone was ready to jump on this glory train. Some critics criticized the film for being four hours too long. Others accused the film of lacking in plot. But no criticism was more crushing than that of John Benton himself.
John: “What the hell was that?” I asked everyone after my first viewing. It was the worst film I had ever seen. I felt like a crazy person as the whole world seemed to be eager to jump off a cliff for this train wreck. I couldn’t accept the money. That’s why I decided to live in the ocean.
Narrator: Since there was no place on land to escape the frenzy, John purchased a house boat and set sail. Unfortunately, he was attacked by a school of stingrays.
John: They got my eye. It was a low point for me.
Narrator: As the money poured in, each man responded in his own way. Dave became a wealthy elite snob. Brendon became obsessed with time travel. He used his billions to construct a time machine. But no one could have foreseen the tragedy that awaited…
Brendon: I convinced him to do it. And not a day goes by that I don’t regret it.
Narrator: Chris Cavalieri would be the first person to attempt to travel back in time. On July 6, 2009 the time machine blazed with blinding light. It shot Chris into the 1860’s.
Dave: I remember the first time I heard his name after that. It was on a program about the death of Abraham Lincoln. “In Ford’s Theater, Lincoln was shot in the back of the head by Christopher Cavalieri.” It was hard to accept. And none of us could understand why he would have done it. It’s hard to think that your movie led to all this. That silly short inside joke of a movie.