24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Board games

'Mr. and Mrs. Smith' writer joins 'Ouija,' as Hollywood continues to roll the dice on board games

June 15, 2011 |  7:53 pm


EXCLUSIVE: "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" looks to continue that franchise's winning streak when it comes out in a few weeks. It's an open question whether movies based on other toys or board games will do as well. There's been plenty of skepticism on another Hasbro-derived film, Pete Berg's 2012 release "Battleship," but a third Hasbro title is pushing ahead just the same.

"Ouija," the supernatural board game that's being turned into an action-adventure by McG ("Terminator Salvation") and Michael Bay's production company, is getting a boost from Simon Kinberg.

The A-list Hollywood writer -- he's written scripts for "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" and "Sherlock Holmes," among others -- is coming on to do a polish of the script for the Universal film, according to two sources with knowledge of the project who asked not to be identified. (A previous version was written by Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, veterans of "Lost" who also wrote "Tron: Legacy.") Universal confirmed the hire.

The move does offer an interesting window into the direction of the film. Although some were quick to assume the movie would have a supernatural bent, Kinberg's specialty is big, upscale -- and sometimes comedic -- action pieces.

Kinberg and McG have a history together: They collaborated on the director's upcoming romantic comedy "This Means War." More to the point, when you hire a writer like Kinberg it means you're serious about developing the movie, not letting things stagnate. With "Risk" bringing on a writer last week, the board-game renaissance keeps pushing its pawns forward.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: The Ouija board game. Credit: Hasbro

Ouija movie could conjure Pierre Morel

October 19, 2010 |  5:28 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Of all the toys and board games being used as the basis for movies, the one with the most elastic sense of possibility may be Ouija.

Unlike a Stretch Armstrong or a Battleship, this Hasbro game doesn't have much in the way of narrative backstory. It basically involves a group of players sitting around a board asking personal questions of the "mystifying oracle"; players move a triangular gamepiece -- uh, we mean supernatural forces exert their mystical will -- to supply an answer.

Which means you can turn the movie into ... anything at all.

Now it looks like the malleable premise is getting a little shape. "Taken" director Pierre Morel is a lead candidate to land the director's job on the film, according to sources who asked not to be identified because the discussions are still in an early stage.

While the Ouija movie could be a traditional horror picture (think pretty young things haunted by strange occurences on a creepy sleepover), it's actually being developed as an action-adventure in the vein of "National Treasure."  Michael Bay's production company, Platinum Dunes, and several "Lost" writers are behind it. The Morel discussions underscore the adventure scope of the film; the director's 2009 phenomenon had plenty of high-speed chases and action.

Morel is busy at the moment working on the much-chewed-over "Dune" reboot. And discussions are still preliminary -- other directors are in the mix too -- so no one is going to rush this film into production. But with reports that another Universal Hasbro movie, "Stretch Armstrong," could be pushed to 2013, it could make the studio's urgency for a big action movie -- the exact sort of picture that "Ouija" is being conceived as -- that much greater.

-- Steven Zeitchik


 Photo: Ouija. Credit: Hasbro


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