Universal has set July 1, 2011, for the release of “Battleship,” confirming Peter Berg as helmer of the live-action pic based on Hasbro’s naval combat board game.
Deal is part of a two-picture pic pact Berg has made with U, where he’ll follow “Battleship” with an Afghan war drama “Lone Survivor.”
Universal’s date declaration positions “Battleship” to become the second film release from the studio’s multiyear deal with Hasbro to turn its classic games into features. The studio previously set an April 11, 2011, release date for “Stretch Armstrong,” with Steve Oedekerk about to deliver a script.
“Battleship” is the latest in Universal’s strong push toward branded entertainment films, and Hasbro has fast become an increasingly important cog in that campaign.
“This is a powerful brand, and in an era where brands have become the new stars, ‘Battleship’ is a big opportunity,” said U Pictures chairmen Marc Shmuger and David Linde.
Aside from “Battleship” and “Stretch Armstrong,” U is separately developing “Clue” with Gore Verbinski, “Monopoly” with Ridley Scott, “Candyland” with director Kevin Lima, and “Ouija” with Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes. As a board game, “Battleship” was launched by Milton Bradley in 1967 and has sold more than 100 million units.
Scott Stuber and his U-based Stuber Pictures will produce “Battleship” alongside Hasbro’s Brian Goldner and Bennett Schneir, Berg and his Film 44 partner Sarah Aubrey. Script was written by Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber (“Whiteout”).
Deal reunites Berg with Stuber, who produced the Berg-helmed “The Kingdom” with Michael Mann. Production on “Battleship” will begin next spring.
For Berg, the picture realizes a passion for ship-bound war stories that he picked up from his naval historian father.
“I’ve been consumed with doing one of these since I tried to convince Tom Rothman at Fox to make a film about John Paul Jones, the founder of the American Navy,” Berg said. “As a kid, I was dragged from Navy museum to museum, and spent so much time on ships, listening to my father talk about the great battles of WWII, I did my high school thesis on the Battle of Midway. When this came up, it didn’t take me long to find a take for a film that is filled with raucous action-packed naval battles.”
Berg called the pic “a contemporary story of an international five-ship fleet engaged in a very dynamic, violent and intense battle” — but he would not disclose any details about the enemy force.
The film will be the next directorial assignment for Berg, who last helmed “Hancock.”
Berg made something of a quid pro quo pact with the studio to follow “Battleship” with “Lone Survivor,” a fact-based story he scripted about a Navy SEAL team that is sent to Afghanistan and is ambushed.
“It was pretty obvious to me they weren’t jumping head over heels to make a war film in the Middle East right now,” Berg said. “So they said, ‘what if you give us ‘Battleship’ for July 2011, and we guarantee you’ll follow with ‘Lone Survivor?’ I already loved the take we had on ‘Battleship,’ so that wasn’t a hard deal to make.’ ”
Other projects percolating for Berg, including “Dune” and “Hancock 2,” will come later.