The Curious Case of Mr. Monopoly

Cameron Hines

It is news to no one that George Lucas’ Star Wars revolutionized popular culture as was not seen done before, and in doing so spawned one of the most lucrative franchises ever. Making a total of about $27 billion, almost half of that money can be attributed to toy sales, with thousands of action figures, bobble-heads, bed sheets and anything else that could have the “Star Wars” logo attached to it. It seems as though Hollywood has gone in the opposite direction lately: instead of making toys based on movies, movies are being based off of games and toys.

Certainly the most successful of these films are Michael Bay’s Transformers Trilogy, and he will be raking in even more money once his fourth and fifth installments are released. TV shows and movies have always been about selling toys, and what better way to do so then depicting giant robots fighting one another? Also by Hasbro Toys is the G.I. Joe franchise. Though 2009’s G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra was met with tepid critical response, it still earned $175 million, and with the newest edition coming out this week (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) Hasbro is hoping to bring in even more money.

Then we turn to movies based off of board games. The most recent is 2012’s Battleship, a mindless exercise that tries to rip off other action movies to make a movie that ultimately insults its audience. In addition, film adaptations for games like “Monopoly,” “Candy Land,” and “Ouiji” are said to be in the works at the moment. I’m not exactly sure why these movies need to be tied to franchises (perhaps for name recognition to make some extra cash), but I feel like it just gives the movie a handicap. Why make a movie about Monopoly that’s of course going to be about a corporate tycoon and still force it to include references to the board game? It makes much more sense to just make a movie about a tycoon that doesn’t have to be haunted by a name brand.

I have to believe that filmmakers haven’t run out of ideas and now they’re simply being inspired from their family game nights to make mediocre movies. If you’re going to adapt, use games that could make for great movies (why not make a “Hungry Hungry Hippos” movie about a group of ravenous hippos terrorizing a local town?). I guess all we can do is wait and see.