Just three weeks after Universal Pictures ditched plans to turn the Hasbro board game Clue into a film (again) with Gore Verbinski, things are not looking good for another Hasbro property at the studio: Insiders tell Vulture that Ouija, an adaptation of the magical board that was to be produced by Michael Bay and directed by McG, has been put in turnaround.
The project had been set up at the studio since 2008, when Universal signed a rather aggressive deal with the world's second-largest toymaker to develop Hasbro and Milton Bradley properties like Candy Land, Stretch Armstrong, Battleship, and Ouija into film titles. Most recently, screenwriter Simon Kinberg (Sherlock Holmes) had taken a pass at the Ouija script under the supervision of McG, who envisioned it as a big-budget Jumanji-like family fantasy, but apparently to no avail.
Insiders say that Bay and McG are taking meetings with other studios next week to drum up interest. (Paramount Pictures, with whom producer Bay has an obvious longstanding relationship from directing Hasbro's Transformers franchise, is said to have passed on taking over the project.) However, it's not inconceivable that if another studio were to come aboard, a newly cost-conscious Universal might be less spooked by its considerable budget and stay on as a co-financier.
But for now, the studio that has laid out so much money for the enormously expensive Hasbro production Battleship isn't blinking, and is opting to pay Hasbro the $5 million penalty for dropping a project as laid out in their 2008 deal. As one talent agent familiar with the project's development explains, "This is how they beat you into submission and make you realize no one but no one wants to make this movie [at that price]. They just did it to Ron Howard with The Dark Tower: 'Don't let us stand in your way! Go find someone willing to write the check.'"
1234567890 GOOD BYE, indeed.