Strange World's Original Board Game Helped The Filmmakers Keep A Big Theme Alive [Exclusive]

While the creative and commercial aspects of filmmaking often clash due to the sometimes-differing ideologies of art and business, they are two sides of the same coin. One can't exist without the other: films of course cost money to make, and the money has to come from somewhere. One of the most lucrative areas to make money in entertainment is merchandising. If a major motion picture produces toys, apparel, high-end collectibles, and theme park experiences, that's another revenue stream for the filmmakers to keep on creating. Just ask George Lucas.

However, when done right, products that tie into a movie can create a harmonious relationship that serves both the financial and artistic aspects of a project. For example, while speaking to "Strange World" directors Don Hall and Qui Nguyen, /Film's Vanessa Armstrong learned that designer Cory Loftis created Ethan Clade's favorite card game, "Primal Outpost." But he didn't just come up with cool designs for the cards coveted by the third-generation Clade, his love interest, and their friends that audiences will see in the upcoming film. Loftis ended up designing a completely playable card game with rules and everything. And I can almost guarantee that we'll see the full version of the game at our local Targets or Walmarts sometime after the theatrical release.

Loftis' creation doesn't just serve as a nice character detail in the story of these explorers tasked with saving their world. Narratively, Avalonia's equivalent to "Minecraft" or "Fortnite" also offered the perfect opportunity to explicate the themes of the movie in terms that anyone can understand.

Game on

In our exclusive interview, Hall and Nguyen (who previously worked together on "Raya and the Last Dragon") shared that their team incorporated "Primal Outpost" into the film because it speaks to the younger demographic of their audience who are fans of games like "Settlers of Cataan" and the "Pokemon" trading card game. Nguyen explained:

"The impetus of the game was we wanted something for Ethan to feel like a very modern teenager thing. And obviously in a world that we created, we didn't have video games or the internet or anything, but kids today are gamers. There's a ton of gamers, from tabletop gamers to video gamers, and that was the huge impetus to have him have a language that felt different than something Searcher or Jaeger would understand."

In addition to speaking to their modern audience, "Primal Outpost" really encapsulates the broader message that the filmmakers were trying to get across without being too explicit. Hall expanded:

"Also, what it gave us was a way to weave in the environmental theme without it being super heavy-handed, because the game itself, if you really listen to when Ethan breaks down the rules, it really is kind of an environmental game because it's about living in harmony with your environment. That's the ultimate goal. So it was a way for us to keep that theme going."

To keep the theme going even further, fans of the film can continue to absorb that message once they play the real-life version of the game that is surely on the way. Maybe after multiple rounds of this game, we'll have a better chance at making our own strange world more like the unique setting of the Mouse House's latest theatrical release.

"Strange World" adventures into theaters on November 23, 2022.