Universal agrees to make Michael Bay’s Ouija but a far, far less budget

As you’ll have read in this week’s Psst! column, in which I speak of the financial hiccups that have plagued Paramount’s Jack Ryan reboot “Moscow”, studios are now tightening their wallets more than ever. As a consequence, big-budget rating-5 drivers like “The Dark Tower” and “At the Mountains of Madness” are being canceled, while others like Disney’s “The Lone Ranger” are having their budgets drastically cut.

Universal had let the feature film version of the board game “Ouija” – which McG was going to direct – go a while back, largely because the budget was spiraling past the $100 million mark. Not happy with the cost, and seemingly aware of the risk in shelling out for a film with a not-too-recognizable title, the studio let the movie plans go.

Variety reported this morning that the film is back on the cards at Uni, albeit for a slightly less riskier cost : $5 million.

Yep, somehow producers Platinum Dunes managed to trim $95 million off the script here. I know, right!? A $5 million dollar movie produced by Michael ‘Blow everything up!’ Bay!? Unheard of! But then we’re overlooking the fact that one of the film’s producers is Jason Blum, one of the chaps behind the micro-budgeted horror hit “Paranormal Activity”; if anyone’s able to work a movie up for that price – especially one that might’ve otherwise been done for big, big bucks – it’s him.

The budget probably won’t affect the film too much – they just swap the straight-up narrative style for a found-footage in-camera approach, and in terms of actors, they simply forget about trying to get Bill Murray and settle for Brian Doyle Murray instead. Easy.