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Our Favorite Board Games That Deserve a Fresh Turn at the Movies

Here are the games we’d make into movies if we had a wad of Monopoly money.

By Benjamin Bullard
Bonnie Hunt, Kirsten Dunst and Bradley Pierce play the board game outside in Jumanji (1995)

Jumanji is streaming on Peacock (watch it here!), giving us an adventurously fun reminder that sometimes games just don’t play around. The late Robin Williams led an all-star cast through a maze of live-action challenges in the wildly imaginative 1995 movie — and all of it hinged on the next dangerous turn of simple, game-based chance.

Along with chilled-out holiday weather that’s sent us raiding through the game closet for fun stuff to do in the warm indoors, taking a tour through Jumanji’s urban-fantasy jungle has us thinking: What actual, real-life board games have been sitting out there just waiting for a shot at their own feature-film spotlight? After all, The Super Mario Bros. Movie is only the latest in a recent string of successful film adaptations that illustrate the crossover box-office power of video games… so why shouldn’t their old-school tabletop predecessors claim a similar slice of the game-based blockbuster action?

RELATED: Is Jumanji Based On a Real Board Game?

We’ve brainstormed through a big list of classic board games to arrive at this short series of titles that seem primed for their big Red-Carpet moment. Some have made it (or almost made it) all the way to Hollywood at least a time or two, while others have yet to be offered even the first meager chance at their movie moment to shine. Either way, we’d happily roll the dice on any film that would dare to take inspiration from the board games listed below.

Eight board game classics that deserve their turn on the big screen


If you’re gonna make a movie, you might as well think big — and there’s no board game bigger than Risk. The classic strategy war game is all about sizing up, whether it’s the map that sprawls across more than 40 global territories or the game’s well-earned reputation for marathon campaigns that can dominate tabletop real estate for weeks.

Despite (or perhaps because of) its lack of super-specific game lore, Risk already has been spun into tons of fan-friendly franchised game variants, including versions that tie in with Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Marvel, Star Trek, and much more. It’s essentially a blank canvas for some big-idea director to paint to the edges with their own high-stakes take on sweeping diplomacy and world-spanning conflict — the perfect setting, in other words, for a live action feature that could spread an epic political-intrigue story across multiple locations (and, if the budget’s right, across an equally epic ensemble of A-list acting talent).


Noted franchise fan Henry Cavill is reportedly ramping up plans to make the separate-but-related Warhammer 40,000 into its own cinematic universe, but we’re here to talk about the original 1983 tabletop adventure that got the whole fantasy-inspired series started.

Ogres, orcs, Beastmen, and elves! In terms of an already built-out lore (and an already built-in fan base), the well-developed Warhammer miniature series vies with Dungeons & Dragons for bragging rights as the kind of franchise that can claim endless hours of players' devoted attention. And with literally dozens of existing novels based in its sprawling medieval world, any Warhammer-themed movie would start out with tons of options on which corner of its universe to explore — or even strike out on its own for an entirely original story. One thing’s for sure: The world of Warhammer is already packed with enough source material to make just one movie feel like the introductory opening salvo in what could be a whole film-franchise campaign.

RELATED: You're Not Crazy: The Old Mario Games Really Did Look Better on Your Old CRT TV

Candy Land

Forget about last year’s small-budget Candy Land horror film (which has nothing to do with the classic children’s board game) — though the idea of a dark-fantasy fairy-tale framed around the game’s Grimm-worthy mix of classic kitchen-made treats does have a certain appetizing appeal. The game itself comes pre-sweetened with tons of lore that seems tailor-made for a film adventure, from the goopy morass of Molasses Swamp to the saccharine splendor — in our minds, anyway — of Gumdrop Mountain.

Full-on Candy Land horror might be a step too far for adapting a game whose intrinsic charms are irresistibly kid-friendly (and, in fact, there’s an animated 2005 Candy Land kids’ movie that already aims to do just that). But we definitely wouldn’t mind coming face to face with something in live action that splits the difference between atmospheric and scary — say, a PG-13 film-fantasy version of Candy Land characters like Gramma Nutt and Queen Frostine.


Put this one in the “where is it already!?” category. Since Ridley Scott’s now-abandoned 2008 effort to adapt the iconic cash-hoarding game for the big screen, Monopoly has remained on the board as fiduciary fuel to power a future movie blockbuster that so far hasn’t materialized. Kevin Hart was attached as recently as 2019 to the latest attempt at cashing in on a Monopoly-based feature film, though that prospect appears to be in transition in the wake of a major franchise deal earlier this year that placed Hasbro’s eOne screen properties under new studio ownership.

At this point, we’d go directly to jail to see what some entrepreneurial filmmaker might do with a wad of Monopoly money. From its zippy little cars and steam trains to the game’s mustachioed maven of high finance, few board games possess as much distinctively cartoonish and film-ready eye appeal as the original game about making bankrupt paupers out of your closest pals.


The 1985 movie adaptation of sleuthing game Clue hardly needs a major upgrade. After all, its killer cast of 1980s stars (including Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Martin Mull, and Christopher Lloyd) has earned it a permanent place in fans’ hearts as a cult-classic success. But in a movie era when every iconic franchise seems ripe for present-day reinterpretation, you could do far worse than revisiting a murder mystery whose tabletop inspiration — featuring prim parlor-game characters like Colonel Mustard and Professor Plum — feels ready-made for a whimsically mysterious fresh take.

Deadpool class clown Ryan Reynolds apparently has the same idea as we do, at least; his Maximum Effort production company has reportedly been hard at work on adapting Clue for an upcoming film treatment. But there’s been no word over the past year on that project’s recent status, so we’re keeping this whodunnit on the board until someone shows up in theaters with a solution we can investigate for ourselves.

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A building-block spire that grasps at the heavens, all ready to come tumbling down with one false human move. Nope, we’re not talking about the Tower of Babel, though there’s something inherently Biblical about a game that punishes its players’ pride by dangling the ever-present threat that the whole ambitious enterprise could topple at any moment.

See where we’re going here? As a table game, Jenga doesn’t exactly come bundled with layers of explanatory backstory… but then again, it doesn’t really need to. There’s just something primal and instinctive about its edge-of-your-seat suspense, which taps directly into themes that could give the right creative team plenty of deep moviemaking material to work with. All we ask is that the inevitable tower collapse scene gets the big-budget special effects treatment it deserves.


We don’t even need to say too much here, as Operation suggests its own demented movie possibilities from right there on the electrified operating table. Most horror films based on medical malpractice tend to make victims out of the patients… but what if a game-based movie switched things up and struck terror into the heart of a shaky surgeon who just can’t commit to keeping a steady hand?

The sky’s the limit for setting up the story for a film adaptation of a game of skill whose bare-bones lore is primed and prepped for endless embellishment — whether it’s the fear of vengeful reprisal from a legion of mangled surgery subjects, or the psychological torment that comes with always botching your pledged “do-no-harm” fidelity to the Hippocratic Oath. As far as we’re concerned, a terror tale that’s based on Operation’s live-wire tension would be just what the movie doctors ordered.

RELATED: Jumanji: Everything You Didnt Know About the Board Game Adventure


We admit it: Sorry! makes the list here simply because we defy anyone to come up with a feature-length film story that can do justice to a board game that boasts virtually no intrinsic lore whatsoever. As a game, Sorry! doesn’t exactly need it in the first place. After all, there’s just something simple and universally appealing about a contest that trades the finer details of place and character for the more fundamental allure of players who are engaged in a subversive struggle to halt each other’s success.

Squid Game recently proved that audiences are ready to key in on a fictionalized competition where being the last one standing is the main thing that matters, and Sorry! comes with the added story-worthy feature of framing the whole ordeal around finding one’s way “home.” That’s gotta be more than enough starting inspiration to get the creative wheels turning in some aspiring filmmaker’s head… right?

While you wait patiently for these other should-be board game flicks, check out Jumanji, streaming now on Peacock!