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Universal Drops ‘Clue’; Gore Verbinski Moves Forward With Hasbro Cash And New Writers

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has quietly dropped out of Clue, one of the seven Hasbro games properties the studio contracted to make into movies in a ground-breaking six-year exclusive deal signed in 2008. Clue becomes the third project out of seven to be dropped by Universal (Monopoly and Magic, The Gathering were also kicked to the curb), but none of those projects are dead. In the case of the murder mystery board game Clue, Hasbro is funding the development and producing the film with Gore Verbinski’s Blind Wink. Verbinski, director of the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, Rango and the upcoming Lone Ranger, still plans to direct Clue, and he and Blind Wink’s John Krauss are producing with Hasbro’s Brian Goldner and Bennett Schneir.

They’ve just hired Flash Gordon scribes Burk Sharpless and Matt Sazama to write the Clue script. The writers will draft a take that Verbinski and his fellow producers came up with that retains the murder mystery spirit of the board game, but broadens the setting to a global stage. Beyond scripting Flash Gordon for Sony Pictures, Sharpless and Sazama are redrafting Dracula Year Zero. That project’s still hanging on at Universal, after being halted just short of the start line because of a high budget, when Alex Proyas was directing and Sam Worthington was going to star. ICM reps the writers.

Is all this a clue that Universal no longer wants to roll the dice on board game movies? Insiders say no. Rather, they tell me that Universal and Hasbro gradually narrowed their focus to the four films that most made sense for the studio: Battleship, the Peter Berg-directed summer 2012 action movie that stars Taylor Kitsch and Liam Neeson, with Universal just releasing its first trailer (below); Stretch Armstrong, which has Rob Letterman directing and Twilight Saga’s Taylor Lautner attached to play the rubbery title character; Candy Land, which is being written by Kung Fu Panda 2 co-writers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, who’ve described the film as Lord of the Rings, with edibles; and Ouija, which has McG attached to direct and Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form producing with Ian Bryce and Hasbro’s Goldner and Schneir. Read More »

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Sony Pictures Sets Scribe For ‘Risk’ As Board Game Heads For Bigscreen

Mike Fleming

Screenwriter John Hlavin has been set by Sony Pictures to write Risk, a contemporary global action thriller based on the venerable board game. Pic is a co-production between Hasbro Entertainment and Overbrook Entertainment, and the producers are Brian Goldner, Bennett Schneir and James Lassiter. Hlavin has written on The Shield, and his original script The Gunslinger for Warner Bros made the Black List. He scripted Underworld: New Dawn for Paramount, which will release early next year, and turned in a heist script to Steve Zaillian’s Film Rites and DreamWorks. Risk was created by Albert Lamorisse, the French director of The Red Balloon in 1957. He called it La Conquete du Monde (The Conquest of the World). It was brought to the US by Parker Brothers two years later as Risk. Will the fact it was invented by a moviemaker keep Deadline commenters from sarcastically demanding new projects like Gnip Gnop: The Movie, the way they always do when I write about a board game transfer? We’ll know soon enough. Hlavin’s repped by UTA and Management 360.

Hasbro has set most of its film action at Universal, including the Peter Berg-directed Battleship and Stretch Armstrong.

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‘Ouija’ Conjures Up Directing Candidates

Mike Fleming

The next hot directing job: Ouija, which will follow Battleship as the next Hasbro branded property to move into production at Universal since the Rob Letterman-directed, Taylor Lautner-attached Stretch Armstrong got pushed back and probably won’t start until 2013. The studio is still talking to directors, but I’ve heard that the three candidates in the mix at the moment are Taken helmer Pierre Morel, The Losers helmer Sylvain White, and Scott Stewart, who just completed the Screen Gems pic Priest. The pic is being produced by Hasbro’s Brian Goldner and Bennett Schneir along with Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form. Universal is planning to get the film into production next summer, for release around Thanksgiving 2012. That will follow on the heels of the Peter Berg-directed Battleship, which opens May 18, 2012. Ouija‘s a big picture, with a budget targeted around $80 million-$100 million. The script is by Tron: Legacy writers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis. A decision will be made in the next two weeks, because all three of those filmmakers are being courted for other jobs.

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