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Hollywood’s Trivial Pursuit of Games

Monopoly, Clue, Candy Land, Battleship, Ouija Board, He-Man, Hot Wheels, Asteroids, Major Matt Manson, View-Master, and now Max Steel.

What all of these games have in common is one thing: they are all being adapted into movies.
It seems as if every second now a new game adaptation is being announced.
There’s even going to be a Where’s Waldo movie.

I feel almost insulted by all these utterly pointless and ridiculous adaptations!
Are studio execs really that desperate?
Toys are meant for the playground and board games are meant to be put in a storage closet you never go to.
They are not meant for a movie theatre.

Let’s take a look at those recent horrible, horrible acquisitions.
Bare in mind: all of them will be live-action.

Starting with a weird one (aren’t they all?): the Ouija board movie!

Produced by Michael Bay’s Plantinum Dune, the film will be penned by Elf‘s David Berenbaum. It shouldn’t take the route of Jumanji, meaning it won’t be about a game coming to life. Instead, the board should play an intricate part of the movie.
This sounds a lot like that 1986 movie named Witchboard.

It looks like a joke, but it’s not. View-Master will also be a movie.
All jokes aside, Brad Caleb Kane is currently at work on the screenplay. The film will be produced by the writer-producer duo that is Kurtzman and Orci.
Kane described the movie as being similar to “the old ’80s Amblin movies: ‘Goonies,’ ‘Young Sherlock’ … in that vein.”
I’m not too sure what the point of it all is yet, but when I do, I’ll be sure to let you guys know.

Time to make room for another car movie: Hot Wheels.
I can already imagine the fast vehicles going at 200MPH in outlandish settings.
What is even more saddening (or hilarious?) is that Joel Silver is behind the movie adaptation. If you don’t get it, let me give you a clue: Silver was also the man behind the visual mess known as Speed Racer.
See any similarities between the two projects?

Ironically, the adaptation that seems the most intriguing and potentially the best of them all is the classic board-game that is Monopoly. We very quickly talked about it when it was announced back in November. The Monopoly movie has been in development since forever ago, even before Robin Hood.
The movie will be directed by Ridley Scott and the script written by Corpse Bride/Monster House‘s Pamela Pettler.
Brian Goldner, CEO of Hasbro, described the story as “real people kind of playing a real-life game of ‘Monopoly,’ not the board game, although they’re icons of the game”. As for Ridley Scott, he said the following: “We have identified a pretty good story and it is fundamentally a movie, not a game, probably describing in a way the characters in the film, the passion of the game, and how the game came about.”

Now onto action figures with He-Man, Major Matt Manson and Max Steel.

I think that toy-based movies will probably never really work. If we’re being honest for a second here, Transformers (barely) only really worked because of its VFX, and I doubt I’m shocking anyone by saying the new G.I. Joe movie is probably going to tank.
Kung-Fu Panda‘s John Stevenson will direct the live-action adaptation of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (produced by Joel Silver) based on a Justin Marks screenplay (the guy who wrote the 2009 Street Fighter). Max Steel was very recently announced so no director is yet known, though Joe Roth will produce the pic for Paramount. Major Matt Manson however is being written by Boomtown/Raines‘ Graham Yost and will be played by non other than Tom Hanks.

Moving on to Candy Land. The game is extremely popular amongst youngsters. Interestingly enough though, it isn’t that well-known outside of the States, so we’ll have to see how the movie fares internationally.
The film version will be written by Etan Cohen and should be directed by Enchanted‘s Kevin Lima.
There isn’t much to say about the plot except that I’m sure the film will be as thought-provoking as the game itself.
A future stoner-movie classic?

Regarding Battleship, the movie will be directed by Peter Berg.
The studio wants it to be an “epic naval action adventure”.
Yet again, I don’t see the point of forcing down the Battleship name, given the plotlessness of the game.
Let’s finally round this up with what can best be describe as…what?

A board-game adaptation? A reboot? A remake? A future Razzie Award-winner?

Penning down the correct term for this piece of cinematography is as complicated as was understanding the complex relationship that lies between the new 90210 and the new Melrose Place.

I am of course talking about the upcoming movie version of Clue. The game already had a somewhat decent 1985 version starring Tim Curry. This time around though, Gore Verbinski will be directing the film after he is finished on BioShock.
This version of the game has been described as a “global thriller and transmedia event that uses deductive reasoning as its storytelling engine.”
On the other side of things, we have video-game adaptation, which until now have all proven to be huge failures.
This post isn’t about why everyone hates Uwe Boll so I’ll abstain from going into a lengthy argument on that one. I’m also not going to list all the awful video-game adaptation, there have been so many.
Some good attempts were made in the past few years regarding video-game adaptations though, the problem being none of them came into fruition.
One of the most well-known example is Halo, which has been in development-hell since 2005.
At one point, Peter Jackson was even attached as an executive producer with Guillermo del Toro as the director.
Also, Shawn Ryan wrote a Max Payne draft in 2002.
My point is this: why would you make such shitty movies if you have something worth putting your money in?
Before being acquired by Universal, Asteroids was even in a four-studio bidding war!
Are we talking about the same game here? You know, the one where you control a triangular-shaped ship rotating left and right to fire on asteroids.

Will the tag line be “In space, no one can hear you fail“?
In any case, the Lorenzo di Bonaventura-produced film will be penned by Bedtime Stories‘ screenwriter, Matt Lopez.
Good luck with that.

Honestly, studios massively buying game properties to turn them into movies just shows how lazy they are.
Bet on new talent, find new ideas, or even adapt realistic stuff, but for fuck’s sake, don’t make a movie out of game pieces!
What I don’t understand is why studios seem forced to literally adapting pieces of plastic into movies?
Sure, the brands are well-known, but the end-product will be so different from the game it’s based on that ultimately it might just do the opposite and only be a drag.
View-Master: The Movie sounds more preposterous than a whole new original idea merely vaguely using an object similar to the View-Master.
An Asteroids movie? There is no plot whatsoever in the game! Armaggeddon and Deep Impact didn’t need the permission of Atari to be made, so what changed?

A naval movie need not be attached to the Battleship name either.

Same goes for Monopoly. Assuming this will be a futuristic investment/banking movie, branding it with the über-famous game board’s name is just adding unnecessary ludicrousness to the film.
Who is taking any of these projects seriously?

And since execs are so keen on the idea of adapting plotless games into motion pictures, tune in tomorrow for my Top 5 of the best (worst?) games that should have adaptations of their own.

2 Comments

  1. leggyorlyb leggyorlyb

    Epic post as always. i totally agree that making movies out of board games is the most ludicrous idea i have ever heard. who the hell wants to see candyland the movie or for that matter viewmaster the movie. i think hollywood has sunk to a new level of low to be pulling this crap out to be made into movies.

  2. Jeetu Jeetu

    As leggy said. Great post.
    My ideal idea would be "Snakes n Ladder". Admittedly its already used in bits in Cube series. Each room connected to six other (dice). Every door contains goodies or hazards. Some will instantly gives you access to higher level. Other will downgrade you to lowest level. Haven't worked it out fully still.

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