The ongoing Hasbro/Universal fiasco (i.e. 'Battleship')

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The ongoing Hasbro/Universal fiasco (i.e. 'Battleship')

Postby J.M. Vargas » Thu Nov 04, 2010 8:10 am

Fascinating (and all too typical) insider's story about how Universal executives got sucked into a deal with Hasbro that is likely to cost the studio tens of millions of dollars (and the executives' jobs when Comcast takes over the company) for rushed-to-market expensive movies based on board game intellectual properties: http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2010/11/ron_meyer_may_be_out_at_univer.html.
Back in February 2008, when the studio struck the deal with Hasbro that pledged to make four or more feature films based on some of the toymaker's biggest brands, Universal Pictures then-chairman Marc Shmuger explained the rationale behind the deal to Advertising Age: “As we're gripped with fear and anxiety, we look for something we can rely on and trust.” Shmuger was speaking about moviegoers preferences for the familiar in a time of uncertainty, but he could easily have been speaking about Universal Pictures' executives own worries over their lack of franchise films. At the time, these nostalgic brands seemed like a good bet: Transformers had emerged as an unlikely blockbuster for DreamWorks the previous summer, grossing $709 million worldwide, and just nine days earlier, Paramount had started shooting Hasbro’s G.I. Joe. Universal’s only franchises were the Fast and Furious and Bourne movies (the latter of which Matt Damon was uninterested in continuing); other than that, they just had a pile of moldy B-movie monsters from the fifties. A Hasbro deal could jump-start a dependable line of profitable series.

For Hasbro, on the other hand, the deal meant finally getting the upper hand in its relationship with Hollywood. The two William Morris talent agents who lured the company away from Creative Artists Agency, Rob Carlson and John Fogelman, had done so by promising Hasbro’s then-COO (and now CEO) Brian Goldner that they could put some very nasty and sharp teeth into the language of any future studio deals — and they delivered. Universal would face multi-million-dollar penalties and the loss of the property rights if Hasbro films weren’t made in a timely manner. No more waiting around twenty years for Warner Bros. to make a film out of GI Joe: Any studio they now dealt with would pay dearly for dithering.

* * * *

The studio’s enthusiasm for Hasbro’s aggressive timetable waned. But they were trapped: The Hasbro deal contained awful consequences for delaying production. Not interested in making Battleship for 2011? Lost your Candy Land screenwriter to another studio’s project? How does a $5 million kill fee and the loss of the rights to make the film grab you? “The language was so strict, Universal begged to get out if it,” explains one insider who insisted on anonymity because of involvement in settling up another Hasbro film at the studio. "But they jammed a gun to their head to make the movies.”


Read the full story to realize Universal is going out of its way to spend $200 million on a "Battleship" movie to avoid paying Hasbro a $5 million penalty fee! :shock:
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Re: The ongoing Hasbro/Universal fiasco (i.e. 'Battleship')

Postby Jim_Thomas » Thu Nov 04, 2010 9:32 am

They need four movies, right?

1. Cancel Battleship, just so you can get video of a Hasbro exec blubbering "You sunk my Battleship!!"

2. Scrabble--a teen angst movie about high school students flaming out at a Scrabble tournament.

3. Hi Ho Cherry-O. A Teen sex comedy. Obviously.

4. A Mouse Trap - Saw crossover.

5. Hire Terry Gilliam to direct Candyland.

Please note that any one of these movies would be infinitely preferable to Van Helsing 2.
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Re: The ongoing Hasbro/Universal fiasco (i.e. 'Battleship')

Postby mkiker2089 » Wed Nov 10, 2010 10:30 am

I was reminded of this when watching Clue. It's not hard to make a good movie off a boardgame.

I can see a Candyland playing out like a cross between Alice in Wonderland and The Labyrinth.

Battleship is a no brainer. Make a war movie. It's been a while since we've had a good WW2 era naval movie so the timing is actually pretty good.

Mousetrap as I see it would be about a wacky inventer. Take a little of the classic Around the World in 80 Days, toss in elements of Silver Spoons and The Wizard (thanks Molly for reminding me of that show) and see what happens. Heck you could even go Fraggle Rock on it. What were those creatures that made Candy building? Dozers?

I say Bravo to Hasbro. Anyone remember how long a Conan movie has been in delay? What happened to The Mask by the time it's sequel came out? Studios are too prone to buying property and sitting on it, effectively killing it.
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