Universal Gambles $200 Million with Battleship

How sad has the state of Hollywood features become when studios are mining board games in hopes to obtain box office glory? There has been speculation that Ridley Scott will helm an adaptation of Monopoly at some point, but for now we’ll have to settle for Peter Berg’s $200 million adaptation of Battleship. At $200 million it matches budgets set for 2012 and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, two features that at least had name recognition with its directors. Audiences were clearly aware of the death and destruction Roland Emmerich created with Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow. And Michael Bay, well he’s destroyed the city streets of San Francisco (The Rock) and invaded Cuba (Bad Boys II) before having toy robots use planet Earth as their battleground.

Peter Berg, while a good director, has been hot and cold in terms of hits. His film The Rundown deserved a much better fate box office wise. Friday Night Lights spawned one of the greatest television shows this century, and The Kingdom barely recouped its production budget. Actually, his biggest certifiable hit was Hancock and that was mostly due to Will Smith’s star presence, not Berg’s direction.

In a quote to The Hollywood Reporter about the development of Battleship, Universal chairman Adam Fogelson acknowledged that the film is “a big bet like many, many big bets from many studios.” He should know. Who could forget the multitude of articles written about Waterworld‘s budget at the time of its release in 1995. And in a year where the studio has had more misses than hits, $200 million lobbied to a property that has sold hundreds of millions of copies does not equal success. As Inception proved this summer, audiences have grown a little tired to the prefab concepts that Hollywood likes to trot out during the summer blockbuster season.

To change the board game scenario, though, Berg sold Universal with a modern twist: have the movie be about an alien invasion at sea.

Whether or not Battleship will sink or swim, that’s to be determined. At the very least it means we may see some of the cast of the TV version of Friday Night Lights on board. Taylor Kitsch, who played Tim Riggins on the show and also played Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, is being built as the star. Among his co-stars are pop diva Rihanna and Tom Arnold.

Filming begins August 30th in Hawaii. Battleship will have its theatrical bow on May 18, 2012.

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