As we reported in August, the current iteration of a Magic: The Gathering movie is dead. For over a decade it has been off and on through a wide variety of studios, and Disney was only the latest killer of a movie.
But back in 2008, there was a real shot at a Magic movie and, well, things went a bit nuts.
In the late 2000s, nostalgic films were making a lot of money in the box office. G.I. Joe and Transformers were bringing a in lot of dough. And with the comic book movie renaissance just kicking off, it was a good time for movies based on franchises and things with large followings. Paramount, Disney, and Marvel (now also Disney) were making billions. Universal Studios wanted in on that.
To that end, a bunch of new movies were announced by Universal in May of 2008. The company had recently received the rights to Hasbro properties and wanted to take full advantage. Board games Battleship, Candy Land, and Monopoly, as well as the toy Stretch Armstrong were just a few of the listed properties getting adaptations. Also on that list? Magic: The Gathering.
Things got crazy fast. Battleship was planned as a huge naval vs. alien epic. Taylor Lautner signed on to be Stretch Armstrong. Ridley Scott was on board to direct Monopoly. Each announcement read like an Onion article.
However, Magic was getting the cold shoulder. As other movies went into pre-production and signed cast and crew, Magic was just a whisper despite being the most valuable property.
There were some ill-feelings for Universal. While fantasy movies like Lord of the Rings did well, their imitators became bombs. For example, The Golden Compass series ended after just one film. Beyond that, the failure of the 2000 New Line Cinema Dungeons and Dragons movie was still fresh in everyone's minds.
Soon the recession hit and studios began scrapping films. New studio management did the same, and yet MTG was still on the schedule.
But then it all fell apart.
In January of 2012 the studio got cold feet after seeing how Battleship and Ouija were coming along. After Stretch Armstrong was cut, all the others followed. And while those lost a ton in pre-production, MTG made it out squeaky clean.
The lack of damage done to Magic led it to be in and out of production for the coming decade. Even a few years after Universal dropping those films and never getting touched since, Magic was already getting picked up again.
In the end, both Battleship and Ouija were considered flops in the box office, while Magic still has that, well, magic today of still being able to get picked up as a film.
Whether that happens after it’s crazy first try remains to be seen.
For now, we'll just have to wait to see what happens with the Russo Brothers' upcoming Magic: The Gathering Netflix series.