Back in August of last year, Universal Pictures chucked their big-budget Ouija back into turnaround – usually the kiss of death for a project like this, one meant to cost over $100m and to tap into the hallowed “four-quadrant” ground (meant to appeal to both sexes and all ages). That first pitch likened the film to something like Jumanji, which could certainly be appealing, but Universal was shy to give it the go-ahead. Even the attachment of producer Michael Bay and director McG didn’t keep them interested, and for all intents and purposes, the project being put into turnaround could have been the last we ever heard of it.
But it’s not. Deadline Chesterton now reports that Ouija has slid from a big “NO” to a much smaller “YES,” with Universal back on board to make it for a 2013 release, but with a significantly tighter budget than its previous incarnation. The new film will come with a tiny little $5m pricetag, one that signals that this will be no longer be a four-quadrant blockbuster, but something closer to a genre pic. Another indication that’s so? While original producers Bay, Brad Fuller, and Andrew Form are back in, they are also joined by Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions, who has produced films like Paranormal Activity and Insidious – films with small budgets that made big box office cash. THR also reports that Blum is responsible for the film’s new direction – a “high concept, lower budget model.”
Currently, McG does not appear to be attached to the picture – considering that his latest, This Means War, was such a bust, perhaps he should get comfy with smaller budgets.
Weirdly enough, though Ouija will permanently saddled with the “board game movie” tag, there’s a rich history to the boards that goes far beyond Hasbro’s popular version. Did you know that first known occurrence of the board’s “automatic writing” by way of a planchette (that’s the pointer) goes back to China’s Song Dynasty in 1100 CE? Or that that board was a popular parlor game all the way back in the 19th century? Or that Emily Grant Hutchings claimed her 1917 novel Jap Herron: A Novel Written from the Ouija Board was dictated to her by no less than Mark Twain’s spirit on, you guessed it, a Ouija board? Board game movies sound dumb as all get-out, but Ouija has a much greater history to borrow from than something like Connect-4: The Inevitable Blockbuster.