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At its core, ‘Battleship’ is a story of strategy that engages audiences. Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner reflects: “No matter whom you’re playing in ‘Battleship,’ you’re sizing your opponent up, both from a personality standpoint as well as strategically.
It was that face-off that intrigued us, because that’s the mark of the brand and what has made the game popular around the globe for so many years. That sense that you and your opponent are strategizing against the blind reveal is so critical to the game play. We knew we could make a film story around that.”
Several years ago, Goldner had recruited film executive Bennett Schneir with the goal of tapping into Schneir’s expertise to develop movie franchises and tent poles from Hasbro’s catalogue.
Schneir says: “We looked at the core of this property and recognized that ‘Battleship’ is a game of wits, intuition, logic and smarts as you try to figure out who your enemy is and win the day. We thought it had all of the elements for a huge, incredible movie. It’s cinematic, exciting and adventurous. To our filmmakers, the game was an incredible launching-off point.”
Addressing the skeptics, Schneir reflects: “It’s easy to ask, ‘Why do you need ‘Battleship’ to make a movie about ships versus aliens?’ You could also ask why you would need ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ to make a movie about pirates and skeletons, or why you would need ‘Transformers’ to make a movie about robots from space who come to Earth. There is so much in the core DNA of ‘Battleship’ that is a source of inspiration for filmmakers.
There are signposts along the way of the concept of the blind reveal, of knowing nothing and then knowing everything. The three-act-play structural experience of the game, the fantasy of game play, and how that translates into a movie became the canvas upon which our filmmakers painted their vision of the story.”
Like Goldner, Schneir approached the film’s development by underscoring what is unique about the game. “‘Battleship’ is a big part of our childhood and part of the family experience,” the producer says. “I like the notion of fighting against an enemy you can’t see. Little by little, the curtain is raised, and you learn where your enemy put his ships and where you should strike next. That’s what leads you to victory. Bringing that emotional connection to the big screen is powerful and compelling.”
Though its modern counterpart is the destroyer, the war machine known as the battleship was prominent in WWII and was in use until the first Iraq War in 1991.
Explains Stuber: “Battleships were defined by their power and muscle and built to take on shrapnel. They were giant ships with giant guns and thick hulls that had extraordinary power. They are the protectors of the fleet. They’re like Secret Service agents: if an enemy fires, they step in front of the carrier and take the shell.
There’s something extraordinarily heroic about being the first dog in the fight. Within the fleet, there’s also the aircraft carrier, another amazing ship that is like an airport in the middle of the ocean. Ultimately, it was the battleship’s job, and today, the destroyer’s, to protect that carrier.”
Echoes director Peter Berg’s production partner at Film 44, Sarah Aubrey: “Destroyers are magnificent pieces of machinery, run by incredibly smart and brave people. We thought it would be a great opportunity to showcase them within the context of this game that people have such an affinity for.
We take you inside of these massive oceangoing beasts. You will see their weapons, missiles, all of their muscular power. In our story, they’re the underdog. So we introduce this mighty Navy fleet steaming out to sea, unlike anything we’ve experienced in a movie.”
Image Courtesy of Battleship