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Margot Robbie's Monopoly could be just the beginning - here are the next big board game movies

Dear Hollywood executives, if you want ideas, we're right here (and we're cheap)

Board games are the new rock and roll (cinema)
Image credit: Popverse

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The announcement this week that Margot Robbie, fresh from making Barbie into a cultural phenomenon again for the first time in decades, is tackling a Monopoly movie is the kind of thing that splits the audience into cynics and true believers; the former camp will roll their eyes and make snarky jokes about how Hollywood believes that it can slap a brand name on anything and hope for the best, while the latter will remember that 1985’s Clue is genuinely one of the finest murder mystery comedies ever committed to celluloid and then pretend that 2012’s Battleship never actually happened.

I find myself in the believer camp, even though I’m more than a little cautious that someone will be able to turn Monopoly into an actual story without stepping into either comedy that feels far too broad, or else too consciously pointed that it forgets to be fun. Nevertheless, I realize that there’s a part of me that wants the Monopoly movie to succeed artistically as much as financially purely because of the potential that’s unlocked as a result. If we can make Monopoly into a good movie, then the sky’s the limit moving forward! Just imagine what could follow…!

Or, even better. Let me do that for you. After all, there’s a wide world of board games out there waiting for their big multiplex moment. All studios need is the right pitch to make it happen, and I’ve got five of them.

The Game of Life

The Game of Life
Image credit: Hasbro

The pitch: A return to the feel-good dramedies of the late 1980s that repeatedly starred Steve Martin as an everyman making light of a common situation, The Game of Life: The Movie follows two identical twins (played by the same actor, of course) as they take very different approaches to life — supporting each other through dark moments and celebrating each others’ successes. At the end of the movie, both are old — preferably in unconvincing “old” make-up or CGI — and they reflect on the lessons they learned throughout their lives.
The talent: Let’s go with Timothee Chalamet for the lead role, with Emma Stone as a well-meaning confident to both twins.
The tagline: “Be a winner.”

Connect 4

Connect 4
Image credit: Hasbro

The pitch: In 1970s Las Vegas, two competing groups of criminals find themselves planning the same heist on the same casino in a stylish parody of Ocean’s Eleven. (Either the original or the Soderbergh remake, or ideally a mix of the two.) Both teams need a four-man team to make the heist happen, but both struggle to locate the ideal mix of talent that will lead to success. Which one will assemble the team and take the prize?
The talent: Ryan Gosling can take the Clooney/Sinatra ringmaster role, but we’re going to insist that Willem Dafoe plays the cynical cop that’s out to catch both gangs before things get too far.
The tagline: “In Vegas, it’s all about playing the right slot.”

Pictionary

Pictionary
Image credit: Mattel

The pitch: An unexpected, experimental apocalyptic event leaves mankind dazed, confused, and struggling to rebuild itself when it’s discovered that the entire human race has been stripped of the ability to understand or use language. The only way to survive is to communicate through pictures — which puts a lot of pressure on one struggling cartoonist who’s suddenly discovered that they may be the key to making it through the end of the world.
The talent: Chris Evans plays the struggling cartoonist, while Natasha Lyonne plays his best friend, whose lack of drawing ability provides comic relief throughout what is otherwise a surprisingly tense movie.
The tagline: “Think fast. Draw faster.”

Trivial Pursuit

Trivial Pursuit
Image credit: Hasbro

The pitch: Recasting the board game as a massively successful television game show in the 1980s, one socially awkward 20-something discovers that their love of pop culture ephemera could not only win them the grand money prize that will change their life, but also the affection of their high school crush, who they’re still pining for years later. There’s only one thing standing in their way: the person they’re competing against on the show happens to be their high school bully.
The talent: Zendaya is the lead, and Anya Taylor-Joy is her high school bully nemesis.
The tagline: “Six categories, one last chance.”

Chess

Chess
Image credit: Peter Miller

The pitch: Let’s just admit it: everyone would be more into chess if someone finally just bit the bullet and transformed the whole thing into a massive Game of Thrones-esque fantasy with warring royal families, brave knights, untrustworthy bishops offering vague advice from the sidelines, and an army of pawns whose ultimate fates will tear the hearts out of the audience. Think Dune, but with grimy old castles and candlelight. It’s time. You’ve wanted it. I’ve wanted it. And if people are wondering how the rooks will be handled, just go all out: they’re magical castles that can transform into giant warriors who’ll punch the living hell out of each other. (Okay, maybe not that last bit. We can workshop it a bit.)
The talent: If you’re going to commit to the bit, commit to it: every single working actor in Britain should have a role in this, or else it’s not big enough.
The tagline: This one writes itself: “Checkmate.”


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