The 30 Best Board Games Based on Movies

30 board games every geeky gamer and film lover needs to play!
Odin Odin (60)
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Board games have been a staple of human civilization for at least 7,000 years. Humanity loves games of all kinds, but board games have clearly been a staple of our civilization since the earliest days of permanent human settlements. In the 20th century, however, our love of storytelling, aesthetic components, and complex rules became married into a sudden explosion of game development and design.

While there are plenty of games being developed that concentrate on mechanics and gameplay, many of the best modern games draw their inspiration from some popular stories — such as movies, books, and television series. And some board games even became movies! In this article list, I’m taking a look at some of my favorite board games based on films, games that manage to capture the essence of their cinematic inspiration and distill that into a mightily exciting board game experience.

No matter the type of gamer you happen to be, I’m totally certain that you’re going to find some new lifetime favorites within this collection. If you are a board game super fan, also consider checking out the 30 best board games for a more general list.

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Planet of the Apes Board Game

Oh yes, The Planet of the Apes is one of my favorite classic sci-fi franchises — how could it not be? These films were delightfully original, weird, and wacky — and the latest film series based on the IP proved that the appeal is still there.

In the Planet of the Apes Board game, players take on the role of different parts of Colonel George Taylor's psyche — that’s right, his actual mind! Working together, they work to overcome challenges and save humanity. This is a really fun and unique conceit and the really smooth art aesthetic, combined with a clever system of play, makes this a hit for fans of any iteration of the Apes IP.

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The Goonies card game

The Goonies is one of those amazing 80s films that spawned an entire 80s film aesthetic to which modern series like Stranger Things owe a lot. The card game is totally a tie-in game that builds on the story and themes of the film, revolving around the search for a hidden prate’s treasure.

As far as card games go, this one is relatively simple and relies heavily on its tie-in value to the film. There are some mechanics that I don’t love (such as the game ending when an encounter deck runs out, a common but pretty arbitrary mechanic that quite a few games utilize when they run out of other ideas), but what makes this game work for me is the tie-in factor, including stills from the film. There are pieces of flavor text that absolutely create spoilers, so don’t play until you’ve seen the film!

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E.T. board game

E.T. is one of those seminal films that, if you’ve never seen it, you’re missing something magical. I loved E.T. as a kid and I’m so grateful that it was part of my childhood. I never did play the board game as a kid, which was released in 1983, but it’s earned itself a place in my collection due to sheer aesthetic appreciation.

Now, it’s absolutely an 80s-style game, with both an aesthetic and game design that is quintessentially from that era… but I’d say that the game holds up rather well, though only if you’re a fan of the film (it is absolutely a tie-in game).

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Coraline: Beware The Other Mother

Neil Gaiman is one of my all-time favorite writers and the Coraline film based on his book of the same name is at the top of my favorite animated films. Naturally, when I learned that there was a board game based on the film I knew instantly that I needed to add it to this list.

The game is simple and can be played with anywhere between 1-4 players, making it quite versatile. It’s a delightfully aesthetic game that ties into the film perfectly. Its simplicity probably lets you down if you’re an avid gamer and not a big fan of the film, but it’s pretty ideal for anyone who loved the IP or is just starting out with games. Ultimately, though, I highly recommend this for players who love Coraline.

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The Crow: Fire It Up

The Motor City Gang is terrorizing the city and The Crow with his allies are the only ones who can oppose them! The players compete as these two groups, with the baddies trying to solve random objectives while the allies hunt them down in a specific order and protect the city from destruction.

The game is strongly tied to the 1994 film and the 1980s comics, following the theme of the film and capturing the aesthetic in a way that clearly marks the developers as fans of the IP.

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Blockbuster the Game

Blockbuster may have gone bust, but the iconic video store lives on in board game form — naturally, as a life-long film geek who spent years working in a video store, the aesthetic alone makes this a win for me.

Overall, the game itself is little more than a trivia game, with teams answering questions about films. But the structure is fun, providing players with the structure to think about their answers and avoid the danger of question-freezing. It’s a great game for film geeks and parties, and a good choice for anyone who suffers from a chronic case of movie nostalgia.

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Horrified Board Game

I grew up watching all of the old classic Universal monster films so the chance to play a game featuring all of them (Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Dracula, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, and Creature from the Black Lagoon).

It’s also a cooperative game, where the players work together to overcome the monsters and get villagers to safety. It’s a wonderful tie-in to the Universal franchise and a lot of fun for the entire family.

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Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game

I love-love-love the Alien films; Ripley was one of my childhood heroes and the aesthetic of those films deeply impacted me. I also love deck-building games because they allow for vast replay value and always seem to present great options for strategy. In this case, Legendary Encounters manages to fit a third of my favorite things into a game: cooperative (rather than competitive) play! The players are working together as characters from the films, trying to overcome the Alien Xenomorphs hunting them down.

The artwork and design of this deck make it worthwhile on its own, though it is definitely artwork true to the violence of the series and not kid-friendly. This is a game for adult Alien fans.

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Godzilla Card Game

The Godzilla card game is a resource-focused battle game, where the combat momentum shifts depending on the player’s choice of action and resource management. This allows for the creation of highly dynamic combat, where misdirection, timing, and clever offense are all major components of play.

There are definitely some glitches with the system and the production designs (misspelled creature names for instance) which speak to some serious quality control issues; due to the nature of the base game system, the IP for Godzilla was sort of slapped on top just because, and it doesn’t feel like those involved were true fans. I’d say that this game is worth it if you can pick up a good-quality used edition, or on sale, and are a true Godzilla fan.

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Goosebumps Movie Board Game

I loved the Goosebumps books as a kid, they were so delightfully spooky and fun. There’s something delightfully cheesy about the world of R. L. Stein, looking back on it as an adult, and that cheesiness folds over into the world of board games quite well. The theme of the game is fit for one of the classic books, too: R. L. Stein’s monsters have escaped from his manuscript to roam the streets!

It’s a simple competitive race game, where the players take on the roles of the different monsters and try to reach the Typewriter before the others in order to become a permanent part of reality!

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The Godfather: Corleone's Empire

The Godfather is one film series that overturned the idea of what dark cinematic drama could be and for fans of the classic mobster epic this board game is the ultimate companion piece. The game concentrates on building and maintaining a mob family's illicit empire, controlling businesses throughout New York City, and competing with the other families for total dominance.

During the four Acts of the game, players are given a sense of increasing dramatic tension as they vie for greater degrees of power in the hope of taking control of Don Corleone’s empire once the old Godfather dies. This is actually a brilliant little game, with great tie-ins to the films as well as a solid rule-set that allows for plenty of complexity without being overboard, and excellent production quality.

I highly recommend playing this one even if you’re not a hard-core fan of the films because the design is self-explanatory and fun in and of itself.

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The Addams Family Family Reunion Game

The 1990s Addams Family films were the greatest hits of my childhood and I still love rewatching them today. They managed to capture the core snarkiness and sincerity of the original series far better than anything else that has come since. The board game for the 1991 film is simple and low-production quality, but it makes for a great tie-in to the film and if you’re a fan of the film it’s a really fun way to geek out.

Players take on the role of one of the main Addams Family members (or Lurch) and work their way around a Monopoly-like board, taking turns based on a spinner. When a character lands on a spot on the board, they take the action described on that spot. Ultimately, it’s quite simple and doesn’t tie into the movie at more than a cursory level. Will this earn a permanent spot in my library? Probably not, but I’ll definitely invite (appropriately-vaccinated) friends over, come next Halloween, for an Addams Family-themed Halloween party featuring this little game.

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300: The Board Game (2007)

Okay, so 300 took the world by storm with its highly aesthetic style and visually stunning (and bloody) action sequences. Culling its material from the thrilling historical defense of 300 Spartan soldiers against the vast armies of Persia, the film had a great platform on which to work the magic of high movie drama. But for our purposes today, that same drama is easily applied elsewhere as in, for instance… a board game.

300: The Board Game recreates the famous battle of Thermopylae where the players strive for control of the “Hot Gates” and pass into Greece. It manages to play with some great and simple battle mechanics that make for a lot of fun. It’s relatively cheap when it comes to production quality (which is a problem most tie-in games share) and playing either Sparta or Persia is equally fun. The strategy options create some great replay value as well, and the general aesthetic is fun if you’re a fan of the films.

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Disney Villainous Board Game

Have you ever wanted to play one of the famed Disney villains? C’mon, don’t be coy; we all know you have. The Disney villains are those figures we love to see defeated in the films, but they all have an allure of their own. When pitted against one another in the competitive Disney Villainous board game, their shenanigans are utterly sublime.

The players all compete to gain power, gather special items and allies, and overcome the other villains on the path to total control of the Disney-verse! For a bit of pure and glorious fun, I strongly recommend watching the Geek & Sundry play-through which features Matt Mercer and Marisha Ray from the hit series Critical Role!

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The Princess Bride: Adventure Book Game

The Princess Bride is one of my all-time favorite films, as I mentioned here in my article about the 20 Low-Budget Cult Films that Became Cult Classics. Based on the book of the same name (which is utterly delightful as well), the film has captured the hearts and imaginations of innumerable viewers for decades and has (thankfully) defied all attempts at Hollywood reboots since then.

The Princess Bride: Adventure Book Game is a storybook game, which makes it delightfully original and a perfect fit for a storybook tale! The board game is literally a book, with each chapter of the game taking place on a different dual-page spread of the book. It follows the plot of the film and manages to capture the tone and humor of the film. The game centers on completing plot points and moving toward story goals for the chapter.

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The Real Ghostbusters Game

Ghostbusters is one of the most iconic franchises ever and has spawned all sorts of secondary media, from cartoons and comics to video games and myriad board games. One of my favorites is the 1986 “The Real Ghostbusters”which is a 3D board game that follows The Real Ghostbusters cartoon series. The 3D design makes the playing space feel interactive in a really delightful way.

It’s a simple game with gorgeous 80s styling and it’s not too difficult to find copies on eBay or elsewhere, so if you’re a huge fan of Ghostbusters or want to introduce your kids to a great little game, this is an ideal choice.

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The Hunger Games: Training Days

I’ll admit to getting totally caught up in the Hunger Games craze. When the film came out, I enjoyed it enough to look up the original book series, and from there got hooked for the next three days doing nothing but flipping the pages and eating snacks. Given that, I was bound to eventually look up other ways to access the Hunger Games universe, including the board game. Which is… okay. It’s a game with some well-designed rules and poor production quality — a true “made because the movie sold well” sort of deal. Still, it does have a good core concept.

The players control different generic Tributes during their training period for the Hunger Games, competing to win events and get a higher Approval Rating. If the core game mechanics could be transplanted into a much better quality design, this game would actually be a great companion to the books and films. As it stands, it’s still fun, but it might be more a “true-fan” sort of game. Instead of showing you gameplay or a review, why not just see what College Humor has to say about this game.

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Board Game: Jumanji

A game for those who seek to find a way to leave their world behind…

Jumanji was one of my favorite films growing up, I absolutely loved it. Robin Williams brought the whole thing to life and the relationship between his character and the father (played by Johnathan Hyde) was just plain superb. The nostalgia captured, too, in seeing the transformation of the town between the two eras was legitimately moving.

Based on an imaginary magical board game, it would be hard to imagine there not being a real-world board game accompanying the film. Sadly, real magic does not actually occur while playing this game — other than the social kind between friends. Overall, I’d say this is a simple game, perhaps good for a Jumanji movie night with friends, but I wouldn’t add it to my permanent collection. Still, it’s easy to pick up a used copy, and if you and your friends are fans of the film this will be a nice way to mix things up.

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Star Wars: Escape From Death Star Game

Sometimes we want to dive deep into our fandoms, and when it comes to Star Wars, there are innumerable board games available to help you do so. Star Wars: Escape from Death Star is a classic game released back in 1977 and recreates the harrowing escape from the Death Star chapter from the original Star Wars film. Players work together to turn off power to the tractor beams and acquire the Death Star plans before escaping aboard the Millennium Falcon and blitzing past some TIE Fighters into hyperspace.

This may be the first licensed Star Wars toy ever, so it holds a special place in the heart of Lucas's massive toy Empire. It’s also a nostalgic blast in the way that only a 70s game could possibly be.

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Board Game: Jaws

Jaws was the very first “Blockbuster” film, so it makes sense that it would spawn all sorts of secondary media, including a board game! The Jaws board game follows a three-act structure (like the film) and is a competitive challenge between the player controlling the Shark and the player(s) controlling Brody, Quint, and Hooper. It’s a game of misdirection, defense, and action. The shark’s goal is to eat as many swimmers as possible while the other players try to stop it… until Act Three when the whole game board flips over, and the fight becomes intimate as the humans try to fend off the shark!

The game really does a wonderful job of capturing the blockbuster fun and tension of the film and is certain to be an excellent social evening for your friends.

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Trivial Pursuit World of Harry Potter Ultimate Edition

Okay, so this is certainly a specialty game for those of us who love the Harry Potter books so much that we’ve read them at least once a year every year since we were children, own the original British printings, and have probably started to read them in a second language just to refresh the experience. Trivial pursuit is, of course, the classic game of competing with your friends over their general knowledge of popular culture, but the Harry Potter edition challenges you to be the best Harry Potter nerd at the table.

If you’re like me and your fiancée casually read Harry Potter in French just for fun, then this means getting your behind handed to you every time you play — but win or lose, it’s a nostalgic blast that every fan of Harry Potter needs to play.

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Dune: Board Game

This one was difficult for me because I both LOVE Dune (including the much-maligned 80s film), but I’m not a huge fan of competitive board games (preferring co-op games). This game goes so far towards “competitive” that there an actual tournament scene. It’s also an incredibly demanding game, one that is extremely difficult to play, with a learning curve that literally exits the atmosphere.

All of that said, Dune is possibly the best book tie-in game in existence; it so perfectly captures the feeling and aesthetic of the original novels that fans of the books cannot help but fall in love with it. This might not be a game for casual gamers, but for the true hard-core game geeks, or the ultra-Dune fan peeps, this is a game that will remain a repeat experience. Shut Up & Sit Down does a detailed review that is not only hilarious but extremely detailed.

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Alien vs Predator: The Hunt Begins

The Alien films and the Predator films merged way back in the day as a natural pair, the horror and action aesthetic mixing well in cinematic form. The aesthetic manages to create the perfects setting for a board game as well, one with some great and unique mechanics (like the “ping” token feature that keeps other players from knowing exactly where you’re moving your pieces on the board). It’s a battle-fest dungeon crawl between humans, predators, and xenomorphs, where the different groups compete against different scenarios to win.

It’s a well-designed game with some great visual components and some fun mechanics that make it a bit different than other dungeon-crawl board games. Check out The Discriminating Gamer’s video review for a full exploration of the game!

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Big Trouble in Little China: The Board Game

One of the greatest action comedies in the history of cinema, Big Trouble in Little China is the perfect canvas from which to draw a hilarious and epic board game experience. Players take on the roles of the iconic characters from the film to defeat the fearsome sorcerer Lo Pan.

The players are working together to overcome the game itself, making this a fun cooperative experience as well as a great social time. Watch the folks over at Geek & Sundry play through a whole game and decide if it's right for you!

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The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31 Board Game

If you love the video game Among Us, this is the game for you. Based on John Carpenter’s seminal sci-fi horror flick The Thing, this is a hidden identity game where the players attempt to clear the outpost of alien Things and escape (without any of the alien Things getting on board the escape helicopter. It’s a great game of risk, deception, and tense action, where every choice matters and the cleverest players win!

Honestly, the best way to introduce this game is just to check out this fantastic introduction video featuring Elijah Wood.

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Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-Earth

Computer games will never have the same visceral appeal as board games, nor will they ever be as wonderfully social… but augmenting a board game with computer elements can lead to a delightfully complex and powerful union of forces that will make your board game night dreams come true.

Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-Earth places players in the role of party members working together on a grand quest. There are a number of different starting scenarios and the players work to complete these while quite literally discovering the map as they go. Using a smart tile design that allows for nearly limitless map configurations, and an app that helps one player act as “Game Master” and runs the game by generating random map configurations and on-map locations/events.

All in all, this is a perfect way to enter Middle-Earth yourself, diving into the epic-feeling stories that Tolkien’s incredible universe provides. But don’t take my word for it, you can watch the folks at No Pun Intended “pun”tificate about the virtues of this game.

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Star Wars: Rebellion Board Game

Who among us has not wished to be cast directly into the heroic struggle of good against villainy that is the original Star Wars trilogy? There’s something utterly magical about that storyline, maybe because the famed mythologist Joseph Campbell’s work played a role in its creation, or maybe because George Lucas loved the brilliant Japanese director Akira Kurosawa’s cinematic storytelling… or maybe it’s because Lucas’s first wife happened to be an incredible editor? Regardless, the original Star Wars films accessed a sort of deep mythic magic that few things have been able to replicate.

Now, there are plenty of board games and video games that allow us to dive into this great world, so what makes Star Wars: Rebellion so special? The fact that it replicates the urgent search for the Rebel base that occupies the Empire during the events of the first film and manages to do so in a brilliant and highly re-playable way.

This is not a game for the faint of heart, as you can see by the sheer number of pieces involved and the extra-large game board's size. But all that prep is more than worth it.

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Jim Henson's Labyrinth: The Board Game

Jim Henson's Labyrinth is one of the movies that influenced my childhood for the better; there are a few such films, the ones that really helped to shape my identity… so, naturally, I was exceedingly excited to find that Jim Henson's Labyrinth: The Board Game would be coming out.

It is a beautiful board game, a really sweet homage to the film. There are so many great details that will make players jump up and go “I remember that!” which is always fun. It’s a co-op game, too, which is my favorite kind — the players all work together to overcome Jareth, the Goblin King!

I’d say that there was a lot more thought put into making this a fun homage than was put into the rules, as the game ultimately becomes mostly a contest of chance based on dice-rolls, but for fans of The Labyrinth, this is certainly worth the time.

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Ender's Game: Battle School Board Game

I don’t know about you, but when I get hooked on some piece of one of my fandoms, I like to hang out with it and go deep. For that, board games are the perfect vehicle because you get to not only interact with the original material uniquely, you get to connect with friends who are also fans! And Ender's Game: Battle School Board Game does that pretty well!

Ender's Game: Battle School Board Game was rushed into production, so it’s not quite as solid as it could have been, with some limitations to the game design as well as some shortcuts taken in the physical quality of the game as well. This makes sense since this level of thought and design was mirrored in the film itself. Still, it’s a fun game, concentrated on the zero-gee battle simulation present in the film. You and the other players form teams to fight against one another and bye for dominance in the Battle School rankings!

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Diehard

Die Hard is one of the most well-known action films in history and is the movie that really catapulted Bruce Willis into the everlasting hall of action-hero fame. It also happens to be one of my favorite Christmas films, right alongside the Nightmare Before Christmas (which I maintain is, indeed, a Christmas film and not a Halloween film. Fight me). Anyhow, Die Hard is a great movie, and it is therefore inevitable that it should find avenues for further release in other media formats. Just getting a board game release doesn’t mean turning a film into a board game is a good idea, however, so how well does Die Hard: The Nakatomi Heist Board Game hold up?

As it turns out, this game is a blast to play. It’s a killer cinematic companion to the game, filled with quotes and references to the movie, making it perfect for die-hard fans of Die Hard. Don’t believe me yet? Check out the Geek&Sundry play-through to see for yourself!

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Odin Odin (60)
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If there is a defining trait to human beings it is, perhaps, our desire to be entertained.