When does a board game become a movie? This week, when “Battleship” makes its way into movie theaters.
While the movie is rated PG-13 because of special effects, aliens invading Earth and lots of guns, it is the latest example of a trend in turning games and toys into movies.
For Hasbro, the “Battleship” movie is a way to get people interested again in old-fashioned games. People still love to play games, but today many are playing on computers, tablets or phones instead of sitting around a board at the kitchen table.
“Battleship” could be just the first of a series of movies based on familiar games. Hasbro’s Ouija, Risk and Candy Land are all scheduled to be turned into movies in the next few years.
The movie also has “built-in appeal” with parents who remember the game and want to pass it on to their children, said Gene Del Vecchio, who has written a book about making successful movies, television shows and video games.
Making movies that appeal to kids and their parents seems to be popular. This summer’s movies feature comic-book superheroes and two versions of Snow White. (Not all movies based on fairy tales and cartoon characters are meant for little kids. Many are made for older children, teenagers and adults.)
On the surface, it may seem that “Battleship” has little in common with the board game.
In the game, players call out letters and numbers that correspond to their opponents’ grid, hoping to hit and sink a set of ships hidden there.
In the movie, alien ships burst out of their hiding place in the ocean and trap some battleships under a giant force field inside which the two sides must duke it out. The aliens appear to have weapons with distinctly peg-like shapes, along with some spinning metal balls known as “shredders,” which were not part of the board game.
Hasbro has that change covered.
The company is releasing a new version of the game using cards that allow the wielder to wipe out a whole row or column of their opponents’ pieces, offering kids a new way to yell, “I sank your battleship!” at home.