Fast-tracking a ‘Catan’ movie is the first piece of the puzzle.
Given that Catan is constantly referenced as one of the most influential board games out there, someone was bound to bank on the game’s popularity eventually and make a big blockbuster out of it. It turns out that Sony is totally up for such a gambit. Variety has announced the studio’s intention to greenlight a feature based the board game, also known as The Settlers of Catan. Working from a screenplay by Blaise Hemingway, no director or actors are as yet attached to the Catan movie.
The plan to adapt Catan has evidently been going on for as long as two years. Gail Katz (Pawn Sacrifice, The Perfect Storm), a producer on the project, acquired the rights to film and TV iterations of Catan in 2015, saying:
“The island of Catan is a vivid, visual, exciting and timeless world with classic themes and moral challenges that resonate today. There is a tremendous opportunity to take what people love about the game and its mythology as a starting point for the narrative.”
Katz’s most recent statement further implies the film to be a labor of love, and she has an ardent commitment to the fandom of the game: “It’s not every day that you have the opportunity to work in a world beloved by millions of people, and expand its story for the screen.” Sony’s end goal seems to include turning the film into a possible franchise, perhaps like Transformers.
If anything, I missed the boat with Catan while growing up. However, news of this budding film adaptation does bring me back a few years to a little short film from 2014 called The Lord of Catan, which is, as far as I’ve found, the only Catan-based movie out there. Starring Amy Acker (The Gifted) and Fran Kranz (The Cabin in the Woods), a seemingly innocent game of Catan becomes the catalyst for a couple to work through some of their messed up issues. The Lord of Catan is a little weird, pretty fun, and absolutely not what a faithful adaptation of the game is going to be like, but maybe there’s a little fandom insight in there somewhere.
If Catan’s primary objective is to “create the dominant community on the ever-changing fictional island…amid scarce resources,” it’s easy to see where any kind of fervent love for it originates from. But at the same time, finding films based on board games that have truly worked is rather difficult. Battleship scarred most of us even with a thoroughly badass Rihanna. But then again, this is where franchise fever has gotten us. It’s one thing to make a standalone movie on a game you love, and another to plan a potential franchise so early on.
Funnily enough, googling for a list of films based on board games turns up anything ouija related as well. Indeed, Mike Flanagan’s Ouija: Origin of Evil was decent, although saying a ouija board is akin to a fun board game might be tempting fate a little. Regardless, here’s to hoping that a Catan movie translates a little better onscreen than other films based on board games tend to.