Whether Battleship is a super success or super failure, a thundering battalion of movies based on board games is marching toward a theater near you. At the very least, I thought you should be prepared.
1. Candy Land
Once upon a time, a toy company desperately wanted to make a movie about a journey through a land of candy based on a board game featuring a journey through a land of candy.
Absolutely no one got excited about this. So they hired screenwriters Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, the duo behind Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. This writing team envisioned an epic tale in a vast and foreboding world of butterscotch waterfalls and licorice trees. As Berger told Entertainment Weekly, they saw Candy Land as “Lord of The Rings, but set in a world of candy.” And while the “WTF?” quotient of that statement could break even the most sturdily made “WTF?”-ometer, I was looking forward to Gollum hunting after his “precious” Ring Pop.
Still, America was not on board. After years in development hell, Universal, which held the rights, actually paid $5 million to get rid of Candy Land.
Then came the sweet, sugar-coated magic. Sony picked up the reins and suddenly Adam Sandler was attached to star. Sandler brought along buddy Robert Smigel (creator of the Ambiguously Gay Duo and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog) to write the screenplay. Expect gay-panic jokes, an endless supply of farting gum drops, a running gag with someone getting repeated hit in the groin with a giant lollypop, and family fun for all!
2. Ouija Board: The Movie
Remember how I said Universal had to pay to not make Candy Land? Well, back in 2008, just a year after the success of Hasbro’s Transformers movie, Universal struck a deal with Hasbro to make five movies based on Hasbro board games and toys: Ouija, Stretch Armstrong, Clue, Candy Land and Battleship. Four years later, Universal only made one movie and wanted to dump the rest (the fact this happened so close to Battleship’s release is more than a tad foreboding). To get out of the deal, Universal had to pay Hasbro a reported $5 million for each movie not made. That’s pretty desperate. And yet, some projects have survived.
Ouija Board started as a $100 million supernatural, haunted house affair with director McG (Charlie’s Angels) at the helm. Michael Bay came on board as a producer to, well, Bay-ify it, presumably. The production hired writer David Berenbaum, who wrote the Eddie Murphy vehicle The Haunted Mansion, to draft a screenplay.
With Universal abandoning them like an unwanted puppy, the fate of Ouija Board looked grim even for a movie about dead people.
But like a temperamental lover with wild mood swings, Universal suddenly changed its mind and wanted Ouija back (even after paying millions to make it go away). The romance rekindled, Universal made but one request of Ouija: cut the $100 million budget.
To $5 million.
To put that in perspective, that’s about the same budget as a Lifetime Movie of the Week. $5 mil would barely cover Michael Bay’s Axe Body Spray budget.
On that budget, expect Ouija Board: The Movie to be two hours of people playing with a Ouija Board in real time, getting in fights about someone moving the piece on purpose, taking frequent bathroom breaks, and spending the last hour watching Jersey Shore reruns because it’s scientifically impossible to wrench any more than fifteen minutes of fun out of playing with a Ouija Board.
Of the upcoming board game movies, Monopoly takes the cake for the most ambitious. The man who wants to bring Monopoly to life is none other than Oscar-nominated super director Ridley Scott. Yes, the man behind Alien and Blade Runner wants to bring you the game with the thimble…but with gravitas.
Originally, screenwriters and producers saw Monopoly as the story of a man transported to a candy-colored world filled with rainbow-colored money. Then Scott stepped in and said, “Nope, this is going to be about the financial crisis.” Yes, a family fun board game movie about the sub-prime mortgage meltdown.
How deep would the film delve into the housing crisis? “Completely," Scott said. "It’s a blood bath. It was really bad behavior. It’s [going to be] a comedy.”
A very funny blood bath. So far, so good.
To be fair, the themes perfectly intertwine. Monopoly is all about buying up as many toy properties as you can with pretend money. The economic housing market implosion was all about people buying up as many real properties they could, like they were buying toys, using pretend money they didn’t have. And though Universal has passed on Monopoly, Scott is committed.
“I wanted to just make a movie about the idea of greed," he told ComingSoon.net. "I told them you know your game can turn your sweetest, dearest aunt into a demon – a nightmare of greed. So that’s what we’re going to do.”
So the director of two of the darkest sci-fi movies of all time wants to transform a silly board game into a dark, “bloody” satire on the greed and avarice behind the housing debacle? Actually, I totally want to see this.
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There’s also a new Clue movie in the works. Are there any board games you'd like to see on the big screen?
Cole Gamble explores the possibility of getting his own film project, Jenga!, on Twitter @ColeGamble.