The country's second-largest toy maker is embarking on a six-year, four-picture deal with Universal Pictures based on its top-selling board games such as "Monopoly" (the world's top-selling board game, with more than 200 million copies sold) as well as "Candy Land," "Clue," "Ouija," "Battleship" and "Stretch Armstrong."
First film in 2010 or '11
Under the terms of the deal, Hasbro will see Universal release a board-game derived movie in 2010 or 2011, with the studio committing to release at least one film a year thereafter. "This deal gives Universal access to some of the greatest brands in the world," Marc Shmuger and David Linde, co-chairmen of Universal, said in a joint statement with Hasbro Chief Operating Officer Brian Goldne.
The use of the word "some" is noteworthy, for absent from the lineup of Hasbro games included in the release was "Scrabble," which Hasbro controls in North America and which rival Mattel sells internationally.
Scrabble, the fusty, 60-year-old board game, is experiencing something of a pop culture renaissance: Scrabulous, an online knockoff, had become one of the hottest amusements on Facebook, where it first appeared last year. In January, Hasbro and Mattel reportedly threatened to bring suit against Facebook, citing copyright infringement. In addition to its film and TV efforts, Hasbro announced last August an agreement with Electronic Arts to develop digital games based on many of its properties across a variety of platforms, a deal no doubt negatively affected by thousands of online denizens playing "Scrabble" for free.
'Trivial Pursuit' heading to TV
Separately, Ira Bernstein, co-president of Lionsgate's syndicated TV outfit Debmar-Mercury, told Advertising Age that he has cleared another Hasbro game title, "Trivial Pursuit," as a game show across nearly 90% of the nation's TV markets: News Corp.-owned stations in Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and New York will air "Trivial Pursuit: America Plays" starting this September.
Mr. Bernstein also told Ad Age that conversations were already afoot with YouTube and other video-sharing sites to have the questions on "Pursuit" be posed by average Americans with webcams, a la the YouTube/CNN presidential debates.
Other still-being-developed plans call for retailers to partner with the show by setting up video "questioning" booths in their stores, allowing customers to query contestants.
He added that Debmar-Mercury was also moving to bring Hasbro's "Pursuit" to the rest of the planet, via syndication deals with channels in Spain and the U.K.