10 times developers became notorious Hollywood villains

10 must-watch movies featuring RE related plot lines

New York Weekend Edition /
Dec.December 31, 2017 01:09 PM

Are you a George Bailey or Henry F. Potter? (Credit: Insomnia Cured Here/Flickr, left; National Telefilm Associates, right)

The immoral, corrupt developer was the go-to villain for a spell in Hollywood with one of the most celebrated — and seasonally appropriate — examples being the ying and yang of George Bailey and Henry F. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life.

Though the trend of the developer-as-a-bad-guy seems to have tapered off after the 1980s according to City Lab, saving a threatened piece of land from big business remains a universal story of struggle, regardless of where your allegiances truly lie.

In time for the final days of this holiday season, here’s a list of some of the most celebrated movies where real estate drives the plot line (usually for the worst) as compiled by City Lab:

1. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
A classic with a good developer (now a rarity) pitted against a slum lord.

2. Scooby-Doo (1969 to 1986)
That gang of kids who continually outfox a ghostly real estate speculator just in the nick of time.

3. Herbie Rides Again (1974)

(Sicnag/Wikimedia Commons)


The beloved car with personality helps an elderly lady stop a developer from building a mall.

4. Superman (1978)

(Gareth Simpson/Flickr)


An unscrupulous developer plans to up his property value by sinking California so he suddenly has coastal property. Superman, obviously, intervenes.

5. Poltergeist (1982)
Another good vs. bad developer case: the good guy faces off with spirits after moving into a home built on a former cemetery.

6. The Goonies (1985)

(Toni Castillo Quero/Flickr)


A treasure hunt sparked by a greedy developer threatening a pair of brothers’ home.

7. Beetlejuice (1988)

(Erwin Soo/Wikimedia Commons)


A real-life developer moves into a new house with his family without knowing a ghost couple also call it home; comedy and conflict ensue as the ghostly couple tries to chase out the humans.

8. Medicine Man (1992)
The development of a road throws the cure for cancer into jeopardy. Set in the Amazon jungle.

9. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Office politics get intense in this one: real estate agents compete head-to-head after their head office announces they’ll be firing all but two members of the sales team.

10. The Brady Bunch Movie (1995)

(ABC Television/eBay)


In this architect vs. developer movie, the Bradys’ gaggle of a dozen kids try to help their architect dad win money to stop a bad developer from taking their house.

[City Lab] — Erin Hudson


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