It appears now that Universal is about to roll the dice on a pricy $200 million-plus adaptation of the Hasbro game Battleship.  Director Peter Berg has some action movie bona fides thanks to helming the superhero movie Hancock, which earned some $624 million worldwide.  But Hancock starred Will Smith, who has demonstrated a lot more box office wattage than Battleship’s lead actor, Taylor Kitsch (see “Taylor Kitsch Commands Battleship”).  Kitsch’s co-star Rihanna has a huge following because of her music, but she has never acted in a major movie before, which raises the stakes another notch.

Universal’s Chairman Adam Fogelson told The Hollywood Reporter “more people have played Battleship than have played with Transformers,” referencing the Paramount/Dreamworks movie franchise that earned more than $1.5 billion with two films.  Hasbro has in fact sold more than 100 million units of the Battleship game over the past 60 years, and Berg has come up with a concept for the movie, which involves an alien invasion that preserves the key aspect of the game in that the battle is between players who can’t see their opponent.

Fogelson insisted that Universal has never seriously considered canceling the Battleship project and plans to begin production on the film later this month.  Universal has announced that the film will be released on May 25th, 2012.