“Baku-what?” I hear you ask. Bakugan – or Bakugan Battle Brawlers to use its full name – is a strategic board game and Japanese anime series that’s popular in the United States and Canada. For some reason it was considered a failure in its native Japan, but for whatever reason the U.S. and Canada embraced it.
The action-adventure series, “centers on creatures called ‘Bakugan’ and the ‘Battle Brawlers’ who possess them.” The original game involves rolling marble-like balls onto special metal cards causing them to pop open and reveal the monsters inside (not unlike the far more popular Japanese franchise Pokemon).
If that doesn’t sound like a great idea for a movie then I don’t know what does (sarcasm alert!)…
Universal has already attached a director to the Bakugan adaptation in the form of Harald Zwart. Zwart directed the likes of The Pink Panther 2 and Agent Cody Banks (yikes…) but found great success and surprising critical acclaim for his remake of The Karate Kid this past summer. A lot of people were decrying the movie before its release, but I found it to be not just decent but damn good. I’d even go so far as to say it gets my vote for the biggest pleasant surprise of 2010.
Zwart’s experience with kid-friendly action movies should put him in good stead for the Bakugan adaptation. The financial success of The Karate Kid probably has something do with Universal choosing Zwart to direct - the remake made over $350 million worldwide on a budget of just $40 million.
Bakugan isn’t the only game-based movie Zwart is involved with: He is also exec producing the big-screen version of the popular PC game Rollercoaster Tycoon. Zwart has also been rumored as a possible director for that movie but at this point it appears he’ll just be producing and will focus his directorial efforts on Bakugan.
It’s really no surprise Universal is making a Bakugan movie; not only has the initial strategy game and anime series spawned a franchise which includes video games and merchandise, but the original game was voted “Toy of the Year” in both 2008 and 2009. If the studio can get the film made for a relatively low budget then it will probably see a very decent box office reception.
Having said that, a lot of people assumed Dragonball: Evolution would make a lot of money because of the rabid fanbase that franchise had and the film ended up being a disappointment, both commercially and critically. Will Bakugan follow suit? It’s hard to tell at this stage, but perhaps Zwart can shepherd the adaptation to success as he did with The Karate Kid.
Source: The Wrap