"Why settle for socializing and hanging with your friends by playing an old-fashioned board game, when you can just watch a movie about it instead?" This seems to be the question Hollywood has been asking as of late. Among the game titles soon prepped to be adapted to the film medium is Risk, a game that (perhaps fittingly) was actually created by French filmmaker Albert Lamorisse (The Red Balloon).
Sony/Columbia Pictures began moving forward with a Risk movie back in 2009, but there's seemingly been little progress on the project since - until recently, with a new screenwriter being brought onboard.
According to Risky Business, scriptwriter John Hlavin (who also co-penned the upcoming Underworld 4) has been hired on to turn the classic war strategy game into a contemporary, globe-trotting action thriller. Hlavin has a bit of a thin resume, but he did work as a story editor/screenwriter on the gritty crime series The Shield during its last season; even so, the new Underworld movie may end up being a better reflection of his writing abilities.
Several incarnations of Risk have been released over the years, varying with respect to the time period (it was originally set during the Cold War) and even location - with the futuristic version Risk 2210 A.D. even incorporating the moon as territory to be fought over. The premise, however, has always been the same (global warfare), and that looks to still hold true in the movie adaptation.
For those keeping score, here's a roundup of just about every board game adaptation currently being developed in Hollywood (not including Risk):
- Peter Berg's Battleship, which "re-envisions" the classical naval battle game as an alien invasion thriller.
- Ridley Scott's Monopoly movie - depending on who you ask, it's either going to be a scathing satire of the real estate market or a fun story about property ownership.
- Ouija, an adaptation of the "supernatural" board game that director McG is fashioning as an Indiana Jones-inspired action-adventure film.
- Candyland which is (according to the screenwriters) Lord of the Rings with candy.
- A Monsterpocalypse movie that Tim Burton is still onboard to direct in the future.
Most of these projects have little to do with their inspiration; the board game tie-in is primarily retained in order to reap the benefits of brand recognition. So while James Cameron has a point when he accuses Hollywood of suffering from a story crisis, most of the upcoming board game movies are essentially just standard genre films that are in part just using the title of an established commodity for marketing purposes.
Brand recognition is hardly a guarantee of quality, though - and it really would be nice to see studios take more chances on projects which boast a creative and original premise as their main selling point. Until that happens, though, we ought to be all the more appreciative of directors who do try and actually make quality films that aren't based on a popular book/TV series/board game/toy line/some other pre-established property.
We'll keep you posted on Risk (and every other board game movie in development) as more information is released.