Seven months after dropping a movie project based on the board game "Ouija" over concerns about its proposed budget of about $150 million, Universal Pictures is again planning to make the picture -- but at a much reduced cost.
The studio on Monday announced it was going to target the film for release in 2013, but did not say when it planned to begin production. People familiar with the matter but not authorized to speak publicly said the new "Ouija," which will be produced by Jason Blum ("Paranormal Activity") and Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes, is expected to be made for less than $10 million.
Last August, Universal executives passed on the previous version of "Ouija," which was to be directed by McG and also produced by Bay. The studio was concerned that a supernatural horror movie with such a big budget would struggle to turn a profit.
At the time, Ouija maker Hasbro, which produces films based on its toys and games, planned to pitch the project as developed by McG to other studios. That effort was apparently unsuccessful, resulting in "Ouija" being reconceived by Universal with a much lower budget. The studio plans to hire a new director as well.
In 2008, Universal signed a much-ballyhooed deal to make at least four films based on seven Hasbro game properties. That agreement was later scrapped and, prior to the news about "Ouija," only one other Hasbro movie remained at the studio: the big-budget navel warfare and alien invasion picture "Battleship," which hits theaters in May.
Blum signed a deal last year to produce low-budget movies for Universal. His first, "Vigiliandia," was produced with Bay's Platinum Dunes and recently wrapped shooting. A second film, directed by Joe Johnston ("The Wolfman," "Jurassic Park III"), begins production this week, and a third, to be produced with former Universal executive Marc Platt, goes in front of the cameras in April.
-- Ben Fritz
Photo: Hasbro's Ouija game. Credit: Los Angeles Times.