Universal’s deal to make movies based on Hasbro game brands (see “Universal Pacts with Hasbro”) is called “punishing” by New York Magazine’s Vulture blog, which also asks whether it might cost Universal president and COO Ron Meyer his job.
The problem for Universal, according to the report, is that if Universal doesn’t make the Hasbro movies within a relatively short period of time, it not only loses the rights but also has to pay multimillion dollar kill fees. And the value of the deal, at least as it’s being executed by Universal, is being questioned, because the Hasbro properties that are being made into movies have very little underlying narrative.
The budgets are also going to be killer; Battleship alone is going to cost $200 million (see “Universal Bets the Farm on Battleship”).
Vulture found much to amuse in Universal’s efforts to get Hasbro to allow it to delay the release of Battleship so it wouldn’t get stepped on by Transformers 3. “Let’s stop for a moment to really underline the moviemaking times we are living in: Hollywood studio heads were begging a Rhode island toy company for more time so they could spend $200 million on a state of the art CGI film based on an early twentieth-centry board game,” it said.”
We wonder why Universal doesn’t look at some of the brands over at Wizards of the Coast. Magic: the Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons both have well-developed fantasy settings and tons of associated fiction; there’s no shortage of backstory. And both have high brand awareness with the age groups that attend movies.