New York Magazine’s Vulture blog broke the story stating that the plug was pulled over concerns about the project’s budget. Back in May, a rumor circulated that Universal had shut down pre-production on the film scripted by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz and set to be directed by McG. Although Universal denied the report it appears that there was some truth to it after all.
Hasbro is now free to shop the project around to other studios. If someone were to express interest, Universal could still participate as a co-financer of the project.
Ouija was just one of a number of toy and game properties that Universal entered into a deal with Hasbro to develop as potential films back in 2008. Although the studio is currently working on finishing a Battleship film for next summer and has Taylor Lautner lined up to headline Stretch Armstrong, they’ve already placed in turnaround three other projects – Monopoly, Magic: The Gathering and most recently, Clue.
This does leave the question remaining what shape is this project in if Universal is willing to swallow its development costs as well as a $5 million penalty fee to Hasbro if the film goes unmade?
With this story, it is becoming even more obvious that even the big studios are feeling the pinch of the current economic climate and are showing greater reluctance at throwing the dice on expensive but risky films. Stories about budgetary concerns causing films to be cancelled have become more commonplace over the last few months. Universal backed out of Guillermo del Toro’s proposed H. P. Lovecraft adaption At The Mountains Of Madness because the filmmaker’s proposed R-rated film might not be able to make back its proposed budget with the ticket-selling limitations of a restricted rating. Disney is currently balking over the price tag of producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s proposed The Lone Ranger feature, even with surefire box office attraction Johnny Depp attached to star.
Maybe someone decided that there wasn’t anything a horror film based on a Ouija board can say that the film Witchboard didn’t already say in 1986 and again and again with its two sequels.