'Ouija' latest movie scrapped over budget concerns
Universal Pictures has canceled its plans to make a movie based on the classic board game after it became clear that the special-effects-heavy supernatural picture would cost around $150 million to produce, a person close to the situation confirmed.
The news follows on the heels of Walt Disney Studios halting production earlier this month of its planned production of "The Long Ranger" starring Johnny Depp because executives believed the projected $250-million budget was too high. The filmmakers are attempting to lower the cost to get that movie back on track.
Universal also recently killed plans for a series of movies and television shows based on Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" novels with director Ron Howard attached.
"Quija" was to be produced by "Transformers" guru Michael Bay and directed by McG of "Terminator Salvation" and "Charlie's Angels" fame.
McG himself has recent experience with projects moving toward production that got canceled. In late 2009 he was in preproduction on an expensive remake of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" that was killed by Disney's then-new chairman Rich Ross.
Universal will have to pay a $5-million penalty to game maker Hasbro, which controls the movie rights to Ouija and is now shopping the project to other studios. "Ouija" was one of several planned Hasbro movies that Universal has scrapped since signing a long-term deal with the game company in 2008.
The studio previously dropped the idea for films based on Monopoly and Clue that had high-profile directors Ridley Scott and Gore Verbinski attached, respectively, as well as one based on the card game Magic: The Gathering.
Presently, Universal has three other Hasbro projects in the works: next year's $200-million-plus production of "Battleship," as well as scripts based on Candyland and Stretch Armstrong.
The "Ouija" news was first reported by Vulture.
-- Ben Fritz
Photo: Hasbro's Ouija game. Credit: Los Angeles Times.