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Big Hollywood Stars in Movie about Online Gambling in Costa Rica

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Ben Affleck, Justin Timberlake and Anthony Mackie are some of the actors thus far confirmed in the production of “Runner, Runner“, a film about the online poker industry in Costa Rica. The movie is scheduled for release in 2013, but so far there is no indication that filming will take place in our country.

A previous article in The Costa Rica Star, Haciendas of the Rich and Famous, mentioned the early beginnings of Runner, Runner. It started when Leonardo DiCaprio, star of Titanic and Inception, was dating Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen. Ms. Bundchen, who eventually married American football star quarterback Tom Brady and purchased a home in Playa Santa Teresa, introduced Mr. DiCaprio to Costa Rica.

Around the time of Bundchen’s wedding to Mr. Brady, Mr. DiCaprio was reportedly in talks with the writers of the classic gambling films Rounders and Ocean’s 13 to produce a new movie about the gritty world of the online betting and gaming industry in Costa Rica. At the time, the film promised to be an exciting look at what goes on behind closed doors at the call centers and server farms in Santa Ana, Río Segundo and the neighborhoods around La Sabana, but it was not clear if it would be about Internet poker or sportsbooks.

The film takes its title from the Texas hold’em variation of poker. A runner-runner is a hand that takes from the both the turn and the river. There were also early expectations that the film would be a sequel to Rounders, but that does not seem to be the case. Various sites that follow Hollywood scripts are calling the film a revenge tale, with Mr. Affleck playing the villainous CEO of an online poker site based in Costa Rica, Mr. Timberlake as his right-hand man, and Mr. Mackie as an American law enforcement agent investigating Mr. Affleck’s character.

What is interesting about Runner, Runner is that both Mr. DiCaprio and Mr. Affleck are reported to be avid poker players, part of a Hollywood circuit that counts Matt Damon (who starred in Rounders), Kevin Pollak, Hank Azaria, Tobey McGuire, and others. An in-depth article by Mark Ebner on his popular “Hollywood Interrupted” site, interviews a man who organized high stakes games among the glitterati, and that non-film celebrities such as the late Steve Jobs and Mark Cuban often joined in.

Runner, Runner will start filming in Puerto Rico soon, and will be distributed by 20th Century Fox. It is being directed by Brad Furman, known for The Lincoln Lawyer. We can only hope that the production team decides to film in Costa Rica and take advantage of our fledgling film industry.

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