Dust off the Pop-o-Matic and wake up Uncle Pennybags! Everybody loves board game movies, right? At least that's what Hollywood thinks ... and hopes. The announcement that Underworld: New Dawn screenwriter John Hlavin will write the film version of Hasbro's strategy game Risk means there are now SEVEN such projects racing to theaters.
With bankable franchises like Harry Potter, Transformers and Pirates of the Caribbean either ending or fading in novelty, producers' shelves are crammed to the rafters with videogame and comic book offerings. Where's the next trend? Tinseltown brainiacs cooked up the peculiar notion that our beloved, roll-the-dice favorites would somehow translate well to the screen, drawing big names and talent into these colorful adaptations.
It's puzzling. Are studio honchos drained of ideas or do they hold some arcane knowledge about the true appetites of moviegoers? Well, it worked for an amusement park ride, right?
As Risk joins the intriguing madness, perhaps it's time to take a calming breath and pause to reflect on what golden game novelties are coming to the big screen. This is the first wave of craziness, so it includes prestige titles, family treasures and one obscure name. If these intrepid projects strike consumer riches, we just may be seeing Hi Ho Cherry-O: The Phantom Piecrust or Yahtzee 3: Revenge of the Small Straight arriving at multiplexes deeper into the cycle.
Here are seven board games in various stages of development to peruse and ponder, ready or not. Now, pay me my Boardwalk rent and pass me those dang dice ...
James Cameron ranted about this $200 million act of desperation, saying, "This degrades the cinema." Kinda harsh, Jim. Even if there's some truth to the King's words, we think this has some awesome potential.
The classic naval combat game gets a sci-fi twist as a fleet of ships is forced to do battle with a ruthless alien armada in order to save the planet. Director Peter Berg recently finished shooting in Hawaii, with Taylor Kitsch and Liam Neeson leading the assault. Kitsch played a cool Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and stars in Disney's John Carter Mars epic next summer. Torpedos away!
Battleship opens May 18, 2012. Will it sink or swim?
World's best-selling board game since 1935. High-wattage brand name appeal. Sir Ridley Scott has been attached as director since 2008. Plot rumors have the contemporary comedy centered around a sad-sack Manhattan realtor who wakes in the fantasyland of Monopoly City. There he battles the evil Parker Brothers and greedy land tycoons.
Hasbro CEO Brian Goldberg told Scott to simply use the game as a jumping-off point, with plenty of sight gags and the lovable Uncle Pennybags. Could work! (Hopefully the movie won't run several hours like the game.)
Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes has been hot for this one since 2008. Screenwriter David Berenbaum (Haunted Mansion, Elf) is hammering out the story based on the eerie Ouija board game that everybody knows not to mess with. A Parker Brothers staple since 1966, it's based on a centuries-old novelty to divine truths ... or consequences.
The spooky toy has been in horror movies ever since Linda Blair summoned Captain Howdy in The Exorcist, and even though we got Witchboard in 1986, it's never had a solo film. Bay insists it will be nothing like Jumanji, and we pray the supernatural 'splosions will be kept to a bare minimum.
With Tim Burton championing this big-screen 3-D project for Dreamworks, the macabre maestro could deliver a slam dunk. Monsterpocalypse is a huge departure from the dusty stack of vintage games shoved in the hall closet. The popular role-playing game's film plot starts with a brutal battle between humanity and giant monsters that attack Earth. Humans respond by constructing a dream team of colossal robots that they control. Could be in theaters by late 2012.
Rampaging robots and monsters and Burton? Count us in!
Think Lord of the Rings, but set in a world of candy? We first reported on this sugary adaptation of the Milton Bradley board game for children last month and that bizarre premise by Candy Land's screenwriting team of Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger (Kung Fu Panda 2) is still haunting our dreams. Kevin Lima (Enchanted) was hired to somehow direct this trippy odyssey to the Land of Sweets. Crazy, cavity-inducing stuff.
For the more sophisticated (geek) board gamers and packed with strategic possibilities. Sony Pictures recently hired Underworld 4's John Hlavin to write the Risk script for Will Smith's Overbrook Entertainment. Global domination aside, this reeks of Smith's involvement in some capacity. Risk already has a cinematic pedigree, as it was invented in the 1950s by French moviemaker Albert Lamorisse. Another instantly recognized Parker Brothers title that could spell victory or defeat in the ruthless box-office wars.
Kick back in the mansion and have a drink. This one could take some time. Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski has been on board for two years. It seems a low priority, with his work on The Lone Ranger taking precedence. If mysteries of fate prevail, he'll direct Professor Plum, Colonel Mustard and the gang from the game that's generated a billion dollars since its conception. A wacky 1985 version, directed by Jonathan Lynn, written by John Landis, and starring Tim Curry and Christopher Lloyd, was an embarrassing mess. Anything would be an improvement.