The first of several Hasbro and Milton Bradley board game properties-turned-movies, Battleship, will arrive in theaters next summer. However, Universal is already being more cautious about exactly which game-based film projects it decides to move forward with.
Gore Verbinski's long-in-development Clue movie was dropped by Universal a while back - and now the studio has also opted to not produce the Ouija movie being developed by director McG (Terminator: Salvation) and producer Michael Bay.
Vulture is reporting that the Hasbro project has already been offered to, but dismissed, by Paramount Pictures, which has made a bundle off Bay and Hasbro's Transformers movies. There's no word from the site about what the exact proposed budget for the Ouija adaptation, but it was apparently considerable enough ($100-150 million, perhaps) to scare off Universal. That's actually a relatively easy task right now, given the studio's recent (costly) failed investment in Cowboys & Aliens.
McG was fashioning the Ouija film as an effects-driven, family-oriented fantasy adventure, along the lines of Jumanji and The Mummy. Simon Kinberg (Sherlock Holmes) penned the most recent draft of the script, which was also worked on by Evan Spiliotopoulos (Snow White and the Huntsman) - as well as TRON: Legacy screenwriting duo Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis - at different points during its development.
Battleship is definitely a costly (re: $200 million) gamble for Universal, but also one that seems like a safer bet than Ouija would have been. The Battleship teaser essentially made the film look like a new installment in the Transformers series - with a new cast and cloaked alien spaceships instead of giant CGI robots. In other words, the movie is being sold as the sort of flashy and mindlessly-fun flick that people often flock to during the summer movie season.
Board game projects like the new Clue, Ouija, and Ridley Scott's Monopoly movie now seem less likely to be fast-tracked by Universal or anyone else - if only because studios are simply waiting to see whether or not Battleship turns a tidy profit, before they start investing loads of cash into other expensive game-based titles like Candyland or Monsterpocalypse.
Most of these board game movies (like Ouija) seemingly have little-to-nothing to do with their inspiration; essentially, they're just looking to benefit from brand name recognition. Include a couple of plot details that tie the film back into the original game (see: naval warfare in Battleship) and you've got what now passes for an "adaptation." So it's hard to be too invested in any of these films, unless there is top notch talent working behind-the-scenes - and that wasn't really the case with Ouija.
We will keep an eye on Ouija and let you know if another studio decides to pick the project up.