10 upcoming movies based on unlikely licenses

Films based on board games, forgotten toys and ageing videogames? They’re all on the way, we’re told. Here’s a round-up of some of the strangest ones…

For decades, the writers and directors of Hollywood have looked to books, theatre and even old television shows for inspiration. More recently, hit videogames and comics have been snapped up, tinkered with and projected onto the big screen with varying degrees of success.

As Hollywood casts its net ever wider for potential licenses, we’ve begun to see a weird new wave of films based on forgotten 70s toys, board games and apparently plot-free 80s videogames. Here’s our pick of upcoming movies based on unlikely licenses…

Missile Command

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Atari’s Cold War arcade game, Missile Command, celebrated its 30th anniversary last year. Like most early videogames, Missile Command is largely plotless. Nuclear warheads, represented by a descending line of red pixels, fall on a row of cities at the bottom of the screen and it’s up to the player to bring them down with their anti-ballistic missiles.

It was confirmed on 11 January that 20th Century Fox has acquired the rights to Missile Command. How they’ll convert this flimsy property to a three-act film is anyone’s guess, though the game’s premise at least provides an excuse for plenty of huge explosions.

Asteroids

Another classic Atari game from yesteryear, Asteroids is even more plot-free than Missile Command. The player controls a spaceship, whose task is to simply blast all the inbound rocks that float around the screen.

Universal bought up the rights for Asteroids back in July 2009, with Matt Lopez signed up to write the script and Lorenzo di Bonaventura producing. If Bonaventura’s name sounds familiar, that’s because he was the man behind such films as Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen, Salt, and the largely appalling videogame adaptation, Doom.

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Battleship

Pop star Rihanna, True Blood‘s Alexander Skarsgård and Liam Neeson are all set to star in director Peter (Hancock) Berg’s $200 million adaptation of the board game, Battleship.

I was secretly hoping that Berg’s movie would amount to little more than a two hour Battleship tournament, with Rihanna successfully sinking Skarsgård and Neeson’s fleet of little plastic ships. Instead, the film will feature heavily-armed armoured battle cruisers blowing up sub-aquatic aliens.

James Cameron doesn’t approve. “We have a story crisis,” he raved to German website, Spiegel Online. “Now they want to make Battleship the game into a film! This is pure desperation [..,] this degrades the cinema.”

Risk

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Will Smith’s production company, Overbrook Entertainment, is said to be looking to make a film based on the classic strategy board game, Risk, designed by French filmmaker Albert Lamorisse in 1957.

A Sony spokesman said back in 2009, “The strategic thinking and the tactical gambles that players must take in the game are what make Risk a classic, thoroughly engaging game. Those elements translated into an action-packed, thrilling story are what will make this a uniquely exciting movie.”

Presumably, the Risk movie will therefore take the form of a fantasy war film, where warring factions in primary coloured uniforms vie for world domination.

Monopoly

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It looks as though Ridley Scott will be busy directing his non-Alien prequel, Prometheus, for the next year or so. Though there’s the outside chance that his next project could be an adaptation of the capitalist board game, Monopoly.

Back in 2009, producer Frank Beddor spoke enthusiastically about his plans for a Monopoly movie and how he’d convinced Ridley Scott to think about directing it. “I created a comedic, lovable loser who lives in Manhattan and works at a real estate company and he’s not very good at his job but he’s great at playing Monopoly,” Beddor told the LA Times. The ‘lovable loser’ later wakes up in an alternate Monopoly universe, where he must defeat “The evil Parker Brothers” at their own game. “It was that pitch, that’s where Sir Ridley got excited. After I pitched it to him, he put out his hand and said, ‘What do I have to be part of this movie?’,” Beddor revealed.

There’s no word yet as to when Scott will start work on the Monopoly film, and it’s possible it may never happen at all. If it does go ahead, expect to see Russell Crowe charging around in a little pewter sportscar (or alternatively, on the back of a little pewter Scotty dog) in about three years’ time.

Ouija

Michael Bay’s production company is making a movie based on the spooky Parker Brothers toy and necromancers’ device, the Ouija board. Given that classic horror film, The Exorcist, already featured a Ouija board to terrifying effect, Ouija‘s producers have wisely chosen to steer their adaptation in a markedly different direction.

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It’s been described as a “family adventure movie”, which sounds like it’ll be a more sinister version of Jumanji to us.

Tron: Legacy scribes, Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, are on scriptwriting duties, while McG is signed to direct. Ouija‘s scheduled to appear next November.

Monsterpocalypse

Last July, it was announced that DreamWorks had bought up the rights to the strategy board game, Monsterpocalypse, with Tim Burton signed up to direct.

We’ve already heard, courtesy of producer Roy Lee, that the film will be a Godzilla-like giant monster flick, with earthlings using huge robots to fight skyscraper-sized alien invaders.

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John August, who has collaborated with Burton in the past on Corpse Bride, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and Big Fish, is set to write Monsterpocalypse‘s screenplay, and veteran effects guru, Ken Ralston, will be developing the look of the monsters.

The Sims

EA has been planning a live-action movie based on its digital lifestyle videogame, The Sims, for almost four years. Reportedly a film about “what it’s like to have infinite power and how do you deal with it”, news about the adaptation has been rather quiet of late.

Producer John Davis described the concept for the film as being “Like Weird Science“, back in 2008, but other than a tentative 2012 release mentioned on IMDb, new details about the film are rather thin on the ground.

View-Master

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When 3D televisions and the Nintendo 3DS were still the stuff of science fiction, the View-Master was the must-have toy for a generation of youngsters. A clever re-packaging of a diversion that had existed since the Victorian era, the View-Master is essentially a set of plastic binoculars that allows the user to look at 3D images. Still going strong, with Fisher-Price currently owning the brand, DreamWorks brought the rights to the View-Master name in July 2009.

Of all the proposed movies on this list, the View-Master one is perhaps the most baffling. With action figures, board games or videogames, you have some sort of premise, at the very least, even if it is a flimsy one. The View-Master is little more than a device, after all. What next, a film based on the George Forman Grill?

Stretch Armstrong

Before computers and consoles came along and corrupted the planet’s youth, the wobbly rubber action figure, Stretch Armstrong, was the must-have toy sensation of the late-70s.

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Universal and Hasbro reportedly struck a deal in 2008 to create a Stretch Armstrong movie, with a script written by Nicholas Stroller, the genius behind the Jack Black vehicle Gulliver’s Travels. Last February, it was announced that Taylor Lautner, still well-oiled from his appearances in the Twilight Saga, would be starring as Stretch.

Odd though a film based on a largely forgotten 70s toy sounds, producer Brian Grazer is enthusiastic about its chances on the big screen. “Stretch Armstrong is a character I have wanted to see on screen for a long time … It’s a story about a guy stretching … the limits of what is possible to become all that he can be.”

Honourable mentions

Rubik’s Cube (a movie based on the 70s puzzle/toy sensation was rumoured to be under consideration last November).

Robosapien: Rebooted (based on the toy robot of the same name).

What To Expect When You’re Expecting (a movie based on a pregnancy guide book. Whip It! writer Shauna Cross is responsible for the script).

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Rollercoaster Tycoon (the rights to this late-90s videogame have been snapped up by Sony).

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