Ouija

Ouija

In my long-ish and varied history of attending childhood sleepovers (from birthday parties to random Saturday nights, hotly attended events to just hanging with my best friend), I somehow managed to avoid playing most of the creepy games that make up the “scary sleepover game” oeuvre. Most of them. I had to play once. It was horrible. It was Bloody Mary. I was ten. And it definitely instilled in me a vague but still life-long aversion to looking in mirrors in dark bathrooms. At the time, I definitely thought, this is a bad idea, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t participate. Guess what! It was a bad idea. Horror films that tap into that kind of stuff — that sort of personal connection — are usually the ones that scare us the very most, which is why I’m pretty excited that I never dabbled in Ouija board-playing, because Stiles White‘s upcoming Ouija (about a possibly murderous “spirit board”) could then have the power to send me screaming out into the night. As is, it just looks kind of scary to me (but if you played with a board as a kid, the film could effect you quite differently). But there sure are plenty of other scary sleepover games that could translate well enough to the big screen, leaving terrified teens in their wake. How many of these games have you played?

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Ouija Board

According to Variety, Platinum Dunes turned off all the lights, lit some candles and sat down with the star of its forthcoming production to choose a writer and director. The piece of wood set to headline Ouija chose two: Juliet Snowden and Stiles White. The pair recently wrote The Possession, another supernatural movie about a malevolent spirit and a wooden collectible that’s out on August 31st. They now belong to a healthy line of filmmakers who have flirted with the project. McG is on that list as well as two Lost writers. Thinking optimistically, this could still be a really fun, spooky story with an occult icon that almost all of us toyed with when we were younger. Still, with Hasbro in on the deal here, the more likely scenario is that it’ll be a movie made first and foremost as a 2-hour commercial for their product. That is, unless they’ve learned a powerful lesson from Battleship.

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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.”

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In 2008, Universal made a deal with Hasbro to develop movies based on plastic and particle board. Now, three years later, they’ve dropped Clue, and they’re also more interested in paying Hasbro a $5m penalty than in actually making the Ouija Board Movie. According to Vulture, the project – which was being produced by Michael Bay and directed by McG (a hell of a pair if there ever were one) – is now in turnaround. Bay and McG are now free to shop it around to anyone that wants to take it. This might be just another cautious step in a trend where studios are wising up to what audiences are getting tired of, but it also represents further proof that 90s style filmmaking is dead as a doornail. McG pitched the project as a large-scale adventure ala Jumanji, which sounds like a strong idea, but apparently Universal wasn’t keen on the concept for the price. It’s a signal that that kind of family adventure is done, while blockbusters are still trying to find a type of adventure that does work. Johnny Depp acting drunk seems to work, but apparently not when he’s playing a Native American sidekick. Meanwhile, the only company who’s discovered the formula for consistently bringing in large numbers of adults and children is Pixar. Maybe they should get their busy hands on this one, too.

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What is Movie News After Dark? Sometimes it likes to think that it is a carefully constructed Rube Goldberg machine constructed by a popular rock band that quickly became on online sensation. It also sometimes thinks that it’s a world famous traveling circus of puppets. Sadly, it’s just a nightly column of movie news and interesting links. Sorry. Have any of you seen a recent picture of actor Jonah Hill? He looks odd, to say the least, having lost a great deal of weight. Is it me, or does he look like a nerdy white version of President Obama? Slightly unrelated is his being cast in Neighborhood Watch alongside Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a sad Doctor Who fan tonight, that’s for sure. With the premiere of a new season less than a week away, tragedy has struck. We must press on, but we must also remember fondly Elisabeth Sladen. There will also be a slew of interesting news, but first, some sadness… Elisabeth Sladen — best known as Sarah Jane Smith of Doctor Who fame — has passed away this week at the age of 63. For those who are not familiar with her work, she was one of the most famous companions in the long history of Who. She was the show’s heart and soul for a time, and reprised the character many times over the course of 38 years. That’s one hell of a run. She will be missed.

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Despite the optimism that comes with any new film being announced (who wants to be bored for two hours?), it was already difficult to work up some happy thoughts about a movie based on the Ouija board. If they made it like a long, more polished episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark?, maybe it could be interesting. Plus, a super natural thriller of any quality would be enough to stomach the ridiculously blatant product placement. Now, it’s almost impossible to get excited because a music video director that should have stuck to music videos is now reported to be in final negotiations to direct the project. According to Deadline Gaithersburg, McG will be bringing his unique talents to the long-form commercial, putting a strain on positive outlooks everywhere.

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Hey, you. Yes, you. No, not that person behind you who seems curiously intent on strangling you with a stand of fishing line. You. I’m guessing you are here because you want to know what’s going on in the world of movies? And chances are you’ve had about enough of the “Film School Rejects attitude” seen in other, more wordy editorials. I’m here to rescue you and give you only the news that you crave as we both stare up at the moon together. And just as you realize that the guy behind you was, in fact, killing you this whole time, you are also going to realize something else: I’m delivering the news with attitude, as well. What can I say, it’s late…

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ouija-header

And here, you thought this ‘board games into movies’ trend was just a fad that would fade away quietly before anyone could actually make something playable in theaters…

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Megan Fox in a Star Wars T-Shirt

It was brought to my attention this evening that thanks to our excessive coverage of The Dark Knight, we have not made a post mentioning Michael Bay in over a week. And as any faithful FSR reader or well-bruised staffer will tell you — this is not acceptable.

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Michael Bay to Produce Ouija Movie

And if that sounds disgusting, well, it just might be.

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