Focus groups have told Hollywood that the annual glut of adaptations has turned Mr. Dickens’ beloved novel into a stale artifact in sore need of a 21st-century update.

Plans by one studio for a star-studded heartwarming holiday blockbuster have been postponed because of the coronavirus, but a treatment for the movie has been leaked.

Pour yourself a cup of eggnog, throw another fruitcake in the fireplace, and read on.

Stave One

Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail. Or so it seemed after Old Marley retired to Sarasota and stopped texting.

Ebenezer Scrooge was a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner. His great-great-great-grandnephew Skip Scrooge likes racquetball, Netflix binges, and Thai cuisine.

In the first scene, we find commercial real-estate honcho Skip Scrooge in his office scolding Bud Cratchit, his accountant, and heartlessly withholding this year’s holiday bonus after Cratchit was caught overcharging clients and spending the take on escorts. Scrooge’s mildly punitive decision will spoil Christmas for the Cratchits.

A pair of fellow real-estate execs drop by Skip Scrooge’s office to request a contribution to reward needy city council members for altering zoning laws. Scrooge cynically refuses to participate in this gesture of charity and sends them away.

Scrooge goes home to his modest ranch house and finds himself haunted by an eerie apparition when he gets an unscheduled Zoom call from former business partner Mike Marley. Marley scolds him for not diversifying and expanding into residential and industrial properties.

Marley shows Scrooge a ghastly vision outside the window — people walking up and down the sidewalk who’ve never been evicted. Marley tells Scrooge he will be visited by three ghosts.

Stave Two

The Ghost of Christmas Past, a small intense woman with a Russian accent who lectures him about the folly of altruism, appears to Skip Scrooge at the foot of his bed. She shows Scrooge his student years at a prestigious Ivy League university. Scrooge witnesses his courtship of Belle, who left him for a guy who bought her a Jaguar.

Scrooge regrets missing his one chance for true love. The Ghost says he should have had his way with Belle like a maverick architect ravishing a pretentious socialite.

Stave Three

The Ghost of Christmas Present, who looks like Milton Friedman in a department store Santa suit, shows Skip Scrooge what this year’s Christmas will be like at the Cratchit house. The mood is somber. Titanic Tim, Bud Cratchit’s youngest son, is worried that his chance of getting accepted at a prestigious Ivy League university may be diminished because Scrooge won’t write him a glowing recommendation.

After a few rounds of golf, the Ghost shows Scrooge two waifs and says “This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. The boy is ignorant of the tyranny of the regulatory state. The girl wants public health measures during a global pandemic that will negatively impact fourth-quarter earnings. Beware them both.”

Stave Four

The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come approaches Skip Scrooge in the unearthly form of a CGI-generated phantom hovering in the mist.

The Ghost shows Scrooge a vision of Christmas dinner at the Cratchit house some time in the future. The mood is somber. Scrooge sees an empty chair at the dinner table. Titanic Tim, who goes to a state college, won’t come out of his bedroom. Bud Cratchit weeps for his lost boy.

The Ghost leads Scrooge to a familiar but vacant office park and points to a smudged business card in a dumpster. Scrooge cries out when he sees his own name on the card. “O Spirit, are these the shadows of the things that will be? And if so, what investment opportunities do they portend?”

Stave Five

Skip Scrooge wakes up in his bed on Christmas morning. He is a new man. He forgives Bud Cratchit for the indiscretion, doubles the bonus, and hires Titanic Tim to be his new vice president. He marries a foreign supermodel. He buys up apartment buildings on the west side of town, sends eviction notices, and repackages the units as high-end condos.

Scrooge ponders his future. Should he declare bankruptcy six times, host a game show, and run for president? Or should he design electric cars and make plans to colonize Mars? And so, as Titanic Tim (moonlighting as pastor at a megachurch) observes, “God bless us everyone!”

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