Films about global war aren’t new. Science fiction, action, drama, even comedies and horror movies have used the familiar, if intense structure to tell tales of victory and defeat. However, some of our best memories of these grand conflicts were probably made in epic battles between family and friends thanks to the Parker Brothers board game Risk. Created in the 1950s by French filmmaker Albert Lamorisse, the game features players battling to take control of the world and, in 2009, Sony Pictures purchased the rights to make a film version. Now, they’ve finally taken the next step by hiring a writer to turn the incredibly broad premise into a concise screenplay: John Hlavin.
Hlavin recently wrote the upcoming fourth Underworld, Underworld: New Dawn, but also worked on FX’s The Shield for several seasons and has films set up at DreamWorks and Warner Bros. And while there’s no immediate clue as to what direction he’ll take the screenplay, The Hollywood Reporter does say it’ll be a modern day story. None of that period stuff here.
Owning the rights to Risk and making a feature film out of it is strictly about brand recognition. I guarantee that, a few lines of dialogue and production design aside, whatever movie Hlavin ends up writing will not need to have the title Risk. Sony could have easily just hired him to write a movie about modern war and not used the name “Risk.” It’s sad that, in this day and age, a name is more valuable to a film than its content.
Take Battleship for example. The board game is about people who try to sink boats. The film is about an massive alien invasion. Does it really have to be called Battleship? Will this movie be anymore successful because of the Risk tie in?