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From cardboard to celluloid: Board games hit the big screen

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Monopoly: the movie

By now, moviegoers are used to seeing successful novels -- The Da Vinci
Code and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo spring to mind -- receive big-screen adaptations. Video games like Doom and Resident Evil have made the jump, too, with a variety of outcomes (ranging from terrible to
quite bad, as a rule), but big movie studios are starting to look a little further afield for their inspirations.

And their next wellspring is one of the oldest known forms of entertainment: board games.

Yes, really. Spurred by a six-year agreement between movie studio Universal
and toy giant Hasbro, you can expect to see a rash of board
game-licensed movies hitting theaters. Here's a few of the most
promising -- and a few classics from years gone by.

Battleship

Expected in 2012 and directed by Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights, Hancock),
this naval thriller counts Taylor Kitsch and Liam Neeson among its
cast. Battleship is said to be only loosely based on its board game
inspiration, but we're betting they somehow manage to get Neeson to trot
out some glum-faced "You sunk my battleship!" line. In fact, if they
don't, we're not going. That'll show 'em.

Monopoly

If we had to pick a director for Universal's 2012 or 2013 movie based on
greed'em'up Monopoly, it would totally be sci-fi maestro Ridley Scott.
Fortunately (and somewhat surprisingly), Universal apparently agrees, as
he's the man tasked with turning Monopoly into a real-estate flick with
themes of -- get this -- greed, blood, and comedy. 'Chance' card, anyone?

Candyland

Enchanted director Kevin Lima will helm this 2011 release. Still haunted by the
board game's garish, faintly nightmarish look, we're hoping the movie
turns out to be a The Hills Have Eyes-style
horrorfest starring a twisted Queen Frostine, with a penchant for
impaling unfortunates on the end of her wand. But given Lima's
kid-friendly resume, we're preparing for disappointment. And
deliciousness.

Clue

Clue, of course, actually did get turned into a movie, and against all odds, it was really rather good. A fast-paced 1985 comedy starring Tim Curry (in one of his best
roles), it was filmed with three different endings in an attempt to keep
theater-goers guessing, though its lackluster box-office take indicates
it didn't work very well. Undaunted, Universal is planning a remake,
with Gore Verbinski reportedly in the frame to direct.

Magic: The Gathering

Details are sparse on this Hasbro-Universal collaboration, themed on what's
surely the geekiest of collectable card games. Frankly, we're grateful
for that. How will it capture the complex interplay between red, blue,
and white mana? Can the intricate strategy of deck-building really work
on the silver screen? And how will they recreate the
stale-sweat-and-Cheetos aroma emanating from the back room of the comic
store? Only time will tell.

Ouija

Filipino director Topel Lee made his feature-length debut with this 2007
Ouija-themed supernatural thriller, treading boldly where only The Exorcist
and roughly seven million other horror movies had dared to tread
before. We never thought board games could be scary until we saw this.
We still don't.

Searching for Bobby Fischer

Second only to Clue as the best ever movie based on a board game (and judging
by the upcoming glut of competitors, its number-two slot isn't likely in
jeopardy), Bobby Fischer catapulted child actor Max Pomeranc to stardom. He pretty much catapulted right back down into obscurity again, but he's still better than Jake Lloyd.

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