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ZATHURA

Zathura: The Game
From the outset, Favreau said he didn't want the Zathura game to be anything like a typical board game. "I had this vision of a really cool vintage windup tin toy, like some sort of post-war Japanese pressed tin mass-produced game,” he says.

"Since Jon talked about a windup game right from the beginning, we fell into this groove of a tin, stamped metal toy,” comments Riva. "Since we both grew up with these toys, the design of the game took on this slightly ‘50s retro feel to which we then added some modern elements and design.”

As with the house, the game was an integral element of the story and the filmmakers treated it like it was a character in the film. "The game itself had to be interesting and exciting to look at,” says Favreau. "In this movie, the game wasn't just a spirit. It seemed to have a consciousness of its own and dictated everything that happened. So we wanted to put a lot of character in the game. We wanted it to be something that would be very intriguing to a young kid like Danny if he found it.”

Working closely with Riva and his design team — in particular illustrator Phil Saunders — Favreau and Riva arrived at the final design for the game.

Following each turn of the key, the spaceship marker moved along the track. A card would then pop out from a slot on which clues were written.

Taking the game from concept to reality was the task of property master Russell Bobbitt, who worked diligently to find the final dimensions and the appropriate materials. After several tests with various metals, it became clear that although the final product needed to look metallic, metal itself was too brittle and would crack during production. So Bobbitt decided to use a thin, pliable plastic. A model of the game was made. Holes were drilled into the mold and a thin sheet of plastic was laid over it. The plastic was heated and then essentially "vacuumed” or sucked over the model. This created an airtight covering over the model, which was then painted and aged until the desired tin metal look was achieved.

Though three games were produced, each of them measuring approximately 18 inches by 22 inches by 3 inches, only one had the mechanical capabilities to make all the parts and pieces move. By running a cable from the game to a computer off-camera, Bobbitt was able to control the movement of the pieces during the scenes in which the boys were playing the game.

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