Universal Brings The Hammer Down.

The Wrap has an interesting take today on Universal’s decision to pull the plug on “Ouija, its horror film based on the Hasbro board game of the same name.

The decision to kill $190 million “Ouija” project marks the third such time that Universal has killed a project in recent months, The Wrap reports. Other casualties include “Clue” (again based on a Hasbro game) and films directed by Ron Howard and Guillermo del Toro.

Here’s the nut graf:

“The trend at the studio may reflect “the new normal” in town, with downward pressure on budgets meeting ongoing pressure from corporate suits to hit the bottom line.

Movies like “Ouija” have to make almost three times their production budget before they hit profitability, which with the ongoing decline in DVD sales is harder than ever to achieve, according to knowledgeable studio executives.

But the cancellations create friction with the studio’s relationships with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, and leave its slate lighter on tentpoles.”

The Wrap piece points out that, courtesy of the cancellation, Universal will have to eat preproduction costs and pay a $5 million kill fee to Hasbro, with whom it inked a seven-picture deal in 2008.

Universal has three of the seven films in the can with the Transformers trilogy, which got progressively louder and more obnoxious with each installment.

Movie four was taken care of with the hugely stupid “GI Joe.” And there’s a sequel on the way, so that’s five of seven films accounted for.

The upcoming “Battleship” flick looks like another piece of inanity. So we’ll offer the suits at Universal some unsolicited (yet thunderously obvious) advice: Please stop making movies based on board games. They’re mostly insulting to audiences’ intelligence and they make you look desperate for material when you’re mining the darkest depths of the culture.

This summer has been an object lesson for studios: Courting the fanboys/girls at ComicCon doesn’t really get you anything. And the surprise success of Woody Allen’sMidnight in Paris” is proof that little movies, done intelligently, can still make money at the box office.

It’s time for Tinseltown to get back to doing what it does best: Creating myths and legends, not ransacking old and increasingly threadbare existing ones.

About jlmicek

I'm an award-winning journalist in Harrisburg, Pa. I also run and cook all the things.
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