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Back in 2009, the world collectively sighed. Not only would we be subjected to a movie based off the board game Battleship, but some genius concocted a screenplay for it about naval officers and aliens that sounded more like a Transformers spinoff titled “Decepticons vs. The Navy: Redemption” than a new board-game-based franchise, which no one was clamoring for in the first place.
But it didn’t end with Battleship. Apparently, board games are the new Disney theme park rides, and Hasbro, in conjunction with Universal and other studios, has commissioned film projects based on Monopoly, Ouija, and worst of all, Candy Land (the latter being an Adam Sandler vehicle).
Now, it hasn’t been a smooth ride for any of these potential movies, but if Peter Berg can spend hundreds of millions on a Battleship movie, who’s to say a Ridley Scott (yes, you read that right) Monopoly movie couldn’t find its way out of development hell?
It’s a sad state of affairs, ladies and gentleman. The worst part, however, is that the idea isn’t necessarily misguided. A board game could potentially make for a great popcorn movie— studios just need to think a little more outside the box. And that’s where we come in. Here are four games we think, if done right, would make for perfectly adequate—even entertaining and money-making—films.
Julian’s Pick: Shadow Hunters
Three factions of individuals make up this game, which originated in Japan: nocturnal supernatural creatures called Shadows, the Shadow-exterminating humans called Hunters, and the innocent bystanders called Neutrals. The game even gives names and distinct traits to the playable characters.
From that description, it’s not too difficult to determine what a worthwhile plot for a film might be: the aforementioned Neutrals are meandering through the Weird Woods – a location in the game – at night as they get trapped in a battle between the Shadows and the Hunters. It’d be particularly interesting if this film made out the Shadows to be innocent victims of the Hunters’ intolerance, but given how Hollywood likes to make villains out of anyone who doesn’t fit the norm, a typical Shadows-are-the-bad-guys narrative would likely make its way into the film.
John’s Pick: Guess Who?
The appeal here is the seemingly endless number of ways the filmmakers could go. Guess Who? could be a murder mystery, a rom-com about blind dating, a kind of cat-and-mouse spy thriller—anything! The only hard and fast requirements: everyone wears red or blue shirts, and the enormous cast of characters features the game’s signature terrible names (there’s no way “Herman” isn’t the murderer, right?)
Julian’s Pick: Champions
Champions emerged as one of the first roleplaying games to utilize a point system rather than the rolling of dice. Although that aspect of the game wouldn’t translate particularly well into a cinematic context, its vast number of unique archetypes– such as the technologically skilled Gadgeteers and psychically charged Mentalists – could make for a diverse array of characters fighting against forces of evil on the silver screen. Initially published in 1981, Champions has also spawned a comic series and, recently, online multiplayer component, so it’s difficult to imagine that a film adaptation wouldn’t have – if nothing else – a respectable cult audience.
John’s Pick: Hungry Hungry Hippos
“These hippos don’t have a taste for white marbles anymore. They want blood.” Tell me that’s not an appealing tagline, and I’ll tell you that you’re a liar. If, like Battleship, we’re going to go in a goofy direction, why not go all the way? A schlocky horror movie about mutant hippos who eat everything in sight would cost about $1 million and make about 30 times that back.