August 24, 2011 9:24am PT by Borys Kit
Universal Scraps 'Ouija' Movie as Studios Eye Budgets Closely
Ouija, the supernatural adventure movie project based on the Hasbro board game, has been scared off the Universal lot, with budgetary reasons to blame.
The project is being produced by Michael Bay and his Platinum Dunes shingle and had McG on board as director. And it’s one of the six titles based on Hasbro games that were set up in 2008.
Insiders say the studio, when it came time to move forward with a greenlight, came to the conclusion Ouija wasn’t right for the company at its current price (the budget hasn’t been revealed but it is described as “tentpole level”).
Meanwhile Hasbro, very protective of its brand and image, had a threshold number for the project in order to make a movie it believes will build up the property, not tarnish it.
The producers, which also include Hasbro’s Brian Goldner and Bennett Schneir, will shop the project to other studios, several of which have expressed interest. The team has already taken it to Paramount, where Platinum Dunes has its deal. Paramount is expected to make a decision today.
Another possible home could be Fox, for which McG recently directed This Means War, the upcoming action comedy starring Reese Witherspoon and Chris Pine.
Sources at Universal and Hasbro insist the relationship between the two companies is strong. Indeed, the two are still working on developing Candyland and Stretch Armstrong, and the have the big-budget Battleship coming out next summer. (Clue was put into turnaround almost a year ago.)
If anything, the turnaround, first reported by Vulture, shows how closely studios are eyeing budgets and becoming averse to taking risks. Disney in recent weeks put the brakes on its high-profile Johnny Depp project The Lone Ranger, and other projects are in the crosshairs.
Universal already has some big-budget movies shooting: Snow White and the Huntsman, 47 Ronin and Battleship, which is budgeted around the $200 million mark. The studio’s big bet (with DreamWorks) this summer, Cowboys & Aliens, didn’t pan out.
So when it came to a project about a game conjuring up spirits from the dead, the answer, like in the game itself, pointed to “No.”