Though many people have given Hollywood a hard time about the recent glut of supernatural romance flicks, what they should really be ridiculing studio heads for is their surprising dedication to developing tentpoles based on beloved board games from our childhood. We’ve got adaptations of Candyland, Monopoly and even Hungry Hippos on the way. Now, even after Battleship sunk both with critics and at the box office last year, Universal Pictures is still chugging ahead with their next board game project: Ouija.
After years in the works, some headway on the film has finally been made as two main cast members were announced yesterday. Olivia Cooke (A&E’s Bates Motel) and Douglas Smith (Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters) have both joined the cast in leading roles. Both are playing teens who, along with a few other friends, attempt to contact a dead friend using the Ouija board and end up making contact with an evil spirit. It was also recently announced that Daren Kagasoff (ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager) will be appearing as a character named Trevor, the skeptical boyfriend of Cooke’s currently-unnamed protagonist.
Universal’s struggle to turn Ouija into a movie has been going on since 2008, when the studio had hoped to turn the film into a big-budgeted adventure in the vein of Pirates of the Caribbean. Universal gave it up to Paramount in 2011, only to reclaim the rights last year and reinterpret the Ouija project as a full-blooded horror film.
Special effects coordinator Stiles White is set to make his directorial debut on the project, which he co-wrote with Knowing scribe Juliet Snowden. Jason Blum will produce, alongside Michael Bay, Brad Fuller, Andrew Form, Brian Goldner and Bennett Schneir.
A handsome teenage cast is likely just the thing Ouija needs to attract an audience; after all, watching ghosts push a planchette around a board to spell out menacing messages for an hour and a half doesn’t exactly sound like an edge-of-your-seat experience. White and Snowden will really have to up the scare factor to make Ouija work, and this capable crop of young actors is certainly a promising start.
Universal appears to be fast-tracking Ouija for a release date potentially as soon as next October, as filming is set to commence in the Los Angeles area next week.
Tell us, are you optimistic for Ouija‘s chances at the box office, or will it prove as dead on arrival as Battleship? And how do you feel about those casting choices?