Exclusive: Root movie pitch delayed by US writers strike

Plans are afoot for a movie based on woodland warfare board game Root, BoardGameWire can reveal – but the process is on hold amid the mass walk-out of Writers Guild of America members this week.

More than 11,000 WGA members are currently striking in an attempt to improve pay and conditions in the industry, with picket lines set up across major US cities including New York and Los Angeles.

Patrick Leder, the owner and CEO of Root publisher Leder Games, told BoardGameWire that a movie pitch had been prepared by Kung Fu Panda animated series writers Ben Mekler and Chris Amick.

He said Mekler and Amick, who also worked together on Netflix animated series Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, have been working on generating interest in the Root movie, as well as gathering other talent together to work on the project.

Ben Mekler picketing during the Writers Guild of America strike.
Photo credit: Ben Mekler

But that process has come to a halt amid the WGA strike, which has seen pickets rise up outside major studios such as Amazon, Netflix, Paramount and Warner Brothers, as well as stopping location work for at least one Marvel project for Disney+.

Leder said, “While the strike is going on, they will not be able to pitch, so we are back to holding. We can be patient about this, I have always seen the odds of it working out being remote, and if it happens, I will be pleasantly surprised.”

He added that Leder Games had been engaged by a firm or group of writers “every couple of years” with hopes of making the 2018 game into an animated series or feature.

But he said those prior attempts had all drawn a blank, with writers and directors moving on to more immediately workable projects when they arose.

Root and its many expansions have an instantly recognisable style thanks to artist Kyle Ferrin, who has illustrated all of Leder Games’ releases since 2016’s Vast: The Crystal Caverns.

That body of work includes Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile, Fort and last year’s release Ahoy, as well as forthcoming card-driven space opera Arcs.

Leder Games is also currently working on Path, understood to be an open-world exploration game set in the Root universe.

Last year the screen rights to the Terraforming Mars board game were bought by production company Cobalt Knight, while DreamWorks Animation picked up the movie rights to Mice and Mystics back in 2018.

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