The Ouija board game movie adaptation was one of several Hasbro projects that Universal dropped last year. In a surprise move, the studio has re-acquired the film (albeit, a heavily reworked version).
Some readers might recall that peculiarly-named helmer McG (Charlie’s Angels, This Means War) was attached to direct the previous incarnation of Ouija. That was thought to still be true even after Universal gave the $100 million project the boot, seeing how screenwriter Marti Noxon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Fright Night) was hired on a few months later to rework the film’s script; it was presumed then that Noxon would get the upward spiraling cost under control and help convince another studio to fund the production.
In a new report, Heat Vision confirms that Universal is once again backing Ouija but makes no mention of either McG, Marti Noxon, or any of the other previous screenwriters who were hired to to fine-tune the project’s script. Furthermore, the movie has now transformed from a nine-figure, special effects-heavy, family-friendly, supernatural adventure (along the lines of Jumanji) into a simpler supernatural horror flick with a budget around $5 million.
The creative force/figure responsible for this radical change? All signs point to newly-attached producer Jason Blum, a fellow who’s helped studios make a bundle on inexpensive horror fare like the Paranormal Activity franchise and Insidious. Platinum Dune heads Michael Bay, Brad Fuller, and Andrew Form (who have long been involved with the Ouija adaptation) also remain aboard to produce the film alongside Blum.
2012 has already seen a handful of Hasbro adaptations undergo drastic changes from their previous form. In addition to Ouija, the Candy Land movie has evolved (devolved?) from a Lord of the Rings-style fantasy adventure into an Adam Sandler production. There’s also the Stretch Armstrong movie which is no longer being designed as a broad farcical comedy (at least, not an intentional one) starring Taylor Lautner.
While this is pure speculation, it seems as though Universal originally had in mind a set model for many of these Hasbro movies; the majority of them were going to imitate this summer’s Battleship and be popcorn blockbusters that only partially connect to the original Hasbro product (or “source material,” if you prefer). Instead, we are now getting a diverse collection of such Hasbro films as a Ouija adaptation more akin to a cheap B-movie – and a Candy Land flick more along the lines of Bedtime Stories.
An overall improvement or mixed blessing? You decide.
Ouija is now tentatively slated for release in 2013, meaning production will probably commence sometime this year – so stay tuned for more updates in the near future.