Juliet Snowden and Stiles White (Knowing) have been tapped to rewrite and direct Universal’s low-budget adaptation of the board game Ouija. The project was originally intended as one of Universal’s tent poles based on Hasbro properties, but dumped all of them when it was clear that Battleship was going to sink at the box office. Hasbro was then able to retool the project with a $5 million budget, and Universal picked it back up with Paranormal Activity producer Jason Blum on board. Michael Bay will also produce through his Platinum Dunes banner along with partners Andrew Form and Brad Fuller.
Variety has no details on what Snowden and White are intending for the adaptation beyond a thriller involving the infamous board that supposedly connects to a supernatural dimension that functions like Yahoo! Answers. Universal plans to release the film next year. Ouija will be the directing debut for Snowden and White.
Almost two years ago, a bevy of board games were targeted for big-screen adaptations. Stretch Armstrong, Monopoly, Candy Land, Clue, etc. have all been in the development line towards big-screen adaptations, but recently (and on the heels of the release of Battleship) movement on the aforementioned projects has slowed. McG was set to direct an adaptation of the supernatural game Ouija, but Universal decided to pass on the project back in August. Hasbro continued to develop Ouija, and after numerous rewrites, the studio has now changed its mind and is now moving forward with a completely retooled version of Ouija for a targeted 2013 release.
Compared to McG’s previous $100 million Ouija, Deadline reports that this new version will be produced by Blumhouse Productions’ Jason Blum for a budget close to $5 million. Blum has made a name for himself with low budget/high profit films like the Paranormal Activity series and Insidious, and now it appears Universal plans to take that approach with Ouija. Hit the jump for more.
Opening this weekend is the action-comedy This Means War. Directed by McG, Chris Pine and Tom Hardy portray the world’s deadliest CIA operatives who are also inseparable partners and best friends…until they fall for the same woman (Reese Witherspoon). Rather than giving up and allowing one of the two to continue seeing Witherspoon, Hardy and Pine put their CIA gadgetry and know-how to work in order to derail each another’s relationship with the girl. For more on the film, here’s six clips and Matt’s review.
During the recent Los Angeles press junket, I was able to land an exclusive video interview with McG. We talked about making This Means War, the battle with the MPAA over rating and what they had to cut to get a PG-13, test screenings, deleted scenes, and what will be on the Blu-ray (it’ll have a Bond-style title sequence). In addition, with McG attached to so many other projects, I got updates on his TV pilot Guilty (about a lawyer that’s been disbarred), Spring Awakening, Dead Spy Running (a spy movie that Stephen Gaghan is writing and possibly directing), Face It (a romantic comedy), Monster Squad (he’s not involved anymore), Medieval (the status is up in the air at Regency), Tink (will star Elizabeth Banks as Tinkerbell), I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President (they haven’t cracked the script yet), Puzzle Palace (a thriller like Die Hard about a boy who has to break in to 1 Police Plaza in New York), Ouija (he’s not involved anymore), The Girl Who Conned the Ivy League (will star Amanda Seyfried as a girl who steals someone’s identity to attend an Ivy League school), and we also talked about the 30 to 40 minutes of deleted scenes from Terminator Salvation and an alternate ending where Skynet wins. Hit the jump to watch.
The feature film adaptation of the Hasbro board game Ouija continues to cycle through screenwriters. Last November, TRON Legacy screenwriters Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz were hired to come up with a script based on the black magic that comes from a piece of cardboard and plastic pointer you can buy at Target. Then Evan Spiliotopoulos (The Lion King 1 ½) was hired to work on the script, and now Heat Vision reports that screenwriting duties have now passed to Marti Noxon (Fright Night). Noxon was also hired last May to write a new draft of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a film which can’t keep its directors or find bankable lead actors.
McG was attached to direct Ouija, but there’s no mention of him in Heat Vision’s story. Losing McG would not be the worst thing that could happen to any movie. Ouija is still looking for a home after Universal dropped the film back in August, but Hasbro still envisions the movie “as a family adventure in the tone of The Mummy centering on a family who has to deal with otherwordly chaos that is unleashed.” Hopefully, the family will learn the danger of buying Hasbro games.
At the press junket for the new interactive web series Aim High, starring Jackson Rathbone (Jasper in The Twilight Saga) and Aimee Teegarden (Friday Night Lights), executive producer McG was there to express his passion for the cutting edge project that will incorporate viewers’ personal Facebook profiles into the story of a high school student (Rathbone) living a double life as a government operative while dreaming of the most popular girl in school (Teegarden).
While we will run that portion of the interview closer to the web series’ October 18th premiere, we did want to let you know what he had to say about what else he’s currently juggling. In post-production on the action-comedy This Means War (starring Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy and Chris Pine) and with six television series currently in development for next season, McG said that he’s looking at a few films right now and will probably decide what he’ll focus on next before the holidays. With so many things on his plate, not everything will end up actually getting made, which he said may be the case with the Ouija board movie that Universal dropped from their production schedule. And, while he knows they did a lot of things right with Terminator: Salvation, he also knows that they did a lot of things wrong, so only time will tell whether or not that director’s cut with all the additional footage will ever be released on DVD/Blu-ray. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
Universal disappointed the movie blog community twice this year when it had to pass on Guillermo del Toro’s At the Mountains of Madness and the ambitious adaptation of The Dark Tower. But there’s another side to that coin—caution also led the studio to pass on oft ridiculed board game adaptations like Clue, Monopoly, and Magic: The Gathering. According to Vulture, you can add Ouija to that list now that Universal has paid a $5 million penalty to Hasbro to back out of the development deal. Producer Michael Bay and director McG (Terminator Salvation) will shop the project—envisioned as a big-budget family fantasy—to other studios next week . Paramount might seem like the natural candidate, given their previous success with Bay and Hasbro on the Transformers series. However, Vulture hears the studio passed on the proposal. Maybe this thing really is dead. Who, other than McG, would mourn the passing of the Ouija movie directed by McG?
Universal hasn’t abandoned all Hasbro properties just yet. Battleship is scheduled for release in summer 2012, the first true test of the viability of these movies amid the modern rush to adapt board games. And as far as we know, Universal is still working on Stretch Armstrong with Taylor Lautner and a Candy Land movie, though neither project seems as safe as it did yesterday.
Screenwriter Evan Spiliotopoulos (The Lion King 1 ½) has been brought in to work on the script for Universal’s adaptation of the board game Quija. Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (Tron: Legacy) were initially set to pen the screenplay, but Heat Vision reports that Spiliotopoulos will be doing a rewrite.
McG (Terminator Salvation) is set to direct the flick, which is said to be a family adventure story in the vein of The Mummy and Indiana Jones. However, with the addition of Spiliotopoulos, it sounds like this could very well end up being much closer to Jumanji. The scribe has worked on a number of Disney straight-to-DVD releases in the past, with his most recent being Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure. However, Spiliotopoulos also did a draft of Wanted 2 and worked on the comic book adaptation Agnes Quill. Ouija is set to be released on November 9th, 2012.
Now that MGM’s financial mess is settled, it looks like James Bond is finally back on track. Deadline reports that Bond 23 (tentative title, obviously) is currently set for November 9, 2012. Sam Mendes is still attached to direct and Daniel Craig will return as 007. Production is set to begin late this year. While a script from Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon) was previously going to be used, Deadline is now reporting that Mendes will work from a script by Purvis, Wade, and Gladiator screenwriter John Logan. Now let the title and Bond girl speculation begin!
Currently, the only other film holding the November 9, 2012 release date is McG’s Ouija. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is due out a week later.
A few weeks ago, we reported that McG (Terminator Salvation) and Breck Eisner (The Crazies) would duke it out for the Ouija director’s chair. Tonight we can confirm that McG has emerged victorious and will helm Universal’s adaptation of the Hasbro board game. Per Heat Vision, the studio is now in negotiations with the director who will helm a script by Tron: Legacy scribes Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis.
While Universal and Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes are keeping plot details for Ouija close to the vest, it is believed that the film will be akin to adventure films such as The Mummy and Indiana Jones. Maybe it’s just me, but this vague description keeps making me think that Ouija will come out looking a lot like a sequel to 1995′s Jumanji (a film that nine-year old me was none too fond of). Again, it’s probably just me. As for McG, his next directorial effort is the romantic comedy This Means War starring Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, and Tom Hardy. Ouija currently has a release date of November 9, 2012.
Though many have been considered, Universal’s Ouija adaptation is still without a director. McG (Terminator Salvation) and Breck Eisner (The Crazies) are the latest to vie for the job, having presented their cinematic take on the supernatural board game to Universal executives over the past two weeks. The studio still has time to be choosy, with a script in place from Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (Tron: Legacy). There is an implicit deadline to pick a director, though, with a set release date of November 9, 2012.
Hit the jump for some background information on the board game and how Universal intends to make it a movie.
Pierre Morel (Taken), the last of the frontrunners to direct Ouija, presented his take on the project to Universal earlier today. The studio has already seen the interpretations of Sylvain White (The Losers) and Scott Charles Stewart (Legion). Universal is reportedly banking on Ouija’s potential to become a supernatural action-adventure franchise. (Think Final Destination meets Jumanji.) It shouldn’t be long before an official announcement is made as to who will helm the Hasbro product adaptation.
Recently, Morel unburdened himsel from directing the Dune remake, seemingly making the Ouija project a priority. If it doesn’t work out, he has other projects to fall back on: Heat Vision reports Morel is in talks to direct Sam Raimi production of EDF (aka Earth Defense Force), in which the nations of the world unite to defend against an extraterrestrial threat. Oh, and then there’s the upcoming sequel to Morel’s action-packed Taken, which you may have heard about.
Hit the jump for a breakdown of what the spirits have told us about Ouija so far.
Universal Pictures has set release dates for some of its major upcoming films. The studio has announced dates for Larry Crowne, Safe House, Contraband, The Bourne Legacy, Ouija, 47 Ronin, Snow White and the Huntsman, and The Dark Tower. Hit the jump for the release dates for all of these films, other films that may share that weekend, and a brief refresher on each project.
According to Deadline, Ouija, the film based on the Hasbro game popular among youth and cult worshipers alike, has three chief candidates vying for the director’s chair: The Losers director Sylvain White, Taken director Pierre Morel (which we reported on here), and Priest helmer Scott Stewart. A winner is suspected to emerge within the next couple weeks.
Ouija is one of three upcoming tentpole films with its origins stemming from a Hasbro product, with Peter Berg’s Battleship – which recently scored Liam Neeson as a Navy admiral – set for a May 18th, 2012 release and Rob Letterman’s Stretch Armstrong – with Taylor Lautner attached to star - likely to go before lenses sometime in 2013. Ouija is penciled in for a Thanksgiving 2012 release. Hasbro and Platinum Dunes will be co-financing the picture with Universal. Info on the Ouija Board and my thoughts on the candidates after the jump.
Pierre Morel (Taken) is the lead candidate to direct the Platinum Dunes film based on the Ouija board. The negotiations are still fresh, and there are other (unspecified) names up for the job, but Universal believes the French filmmaker has what it takes to bring this inherently plotless property to the big screen.
According to 24 Frames, the studio hopes to turn Ouija into an action-adventure tentpole — presumably one with franchise potential. Morel is busy with his own large-scale actioner, undertaking an adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel Dune. Meanwhile, Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (Lost) are busy polishing the Ouija script, and Universal’s attention is divided amongst a number of toy-based movies: Battleship, Stretch Armstrong, Monopoly, Candy Land, and Clue. Hit the jump for some background information on the Ouija board.
What do you get when you cross Transformers, Play-Doh, Mr. Potato Head, G.I. Joe, My Little Pony, and the Easy-Bake Oven? Well, if you’re Hasbro, you get an Avengers-style movie. Hasbro has found crazy success with Transformers, moderate success with G.I. Joe, and likely will find varying degrees of success with forthcoming films based on Battleship, Micronauts, Risk, Stretch Armstrong, Ouija, Monopoly, Candy Land, and Clue. (For more on those projects, check out this video interview with Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner)
It turns out the ubiquitous toy company is developing Hasbro Factory, a cinematic grouping all your favorite Hasbro toys. Details are still scare, and there is no word yet on which specific toys will be called on to make an appearance, but Pajiba reports the project is “out to writers”. Note that in an interview with Steve, Stretch Armstrong writer Nicholas Stoller claimed that Stretch wouldn’t be part of some expansive Hasbro universe (“It’s going to be totally its own thing”). Never say never, I suppose.