Feature: The Best Films Based on Board Games

Long before modern digital entertainment, families used to bond by gathering around a table and getting out their favourite board game.

Monopoly can be traced back as far as 1903, long before television sets, big cinema releases and computer games. Cluedo came a little later, originally called Clue, it began delighting families just after the Second World War. Ever since then, a board game has been a great way to unite a family, to bring people together and to have shared enjoyment. They are still as popular as ever today, although many have evolved to incorporate digital elements, or even moved completely online.

Some of your favourite board games can be found online these days, in their true form or adapted for a new audience, or genre. You can download Monopoly for your mobile device and instantly play with friends around the world, or enjoy an altogether different experience. An online slot version of Monopoly is featured on Gala Spins, giving fans of the popular board game an alternative experience based on their love of the Hasbro classic. You can even find a Monopoly Bingo if you look hard enough.

What you might find unusual is that not only do board games make great video games, but they can also make a great feature to watch, too. Plenty of films down the ages have used board games as a plot device, or as the sole motivation for the film. If you are a board game fan and you find yourself with a spare couple of hours and nobody to roll the dice with, then we recommend casting an eye over these four releases.

Clue (1985)

Described by Bright Wall Dark Room as the first board game movie, Clue is a black comedy starring Rocky Horror’s Tim Curry and Eileen Brennan, best known for her role in Private Benjamin. In keeping with the themes of the board game Cluedo, six stranger are invited to a New England mansion, and each guest is giving a pseudonym which relates to the board game; Mrs White, Mrs Peacock etc. It even featured three different endings for different cinemas, to keep it aligned with the board game. It performed poorly at the box office but has since gained something of a cult following.

Jumanji (1995)

Jumanji is certainly based on a board game, just not a real one! The original film, starring Robin Williams, was a big hit in 1995, taking $262m against a budget of $65m. It has since spawned several sequels, including the 2017 release starring Jack Black and Dwayne Johnson. You might not be able to pick up and play Jumanji yourself, but it is one board game, albeit fictional, which has created a franchise.

Battleship (2012)

Battleship introduced Rhianna to Hollywood, and rather than being the tense wartime drama you might expect, it opted for the big budget, explosion and effects route. Did it work? Opinion is split, as it introduced elements of sci-fi, whilst trying to stay true to the game. Hasbro took advantage though, they released board game versions of the film that included alien ships.

Queen of Katwe (2016)

For those looking for something that isn’t silly, camp or overstated, Queen of Katwe could be just the film. It is a biographical drama starring David Oyelowo, Madina Nalwanga and Lupita Nyongo’o. It tells the story of Phiona Mutesi, a girl living in a Kampala slum who learns to play chess and goes on to become a Woman Candidate Master after her victories at the World Chess Olympiads. The film received widespread praise and critical acclaim and remains one of the best feature films based on a board game.