A Movie Musical Based on ‘The Oregon Trail’ Game Is in the Works

“Ohhhhhhhhh-regon Trail, where the dysentery comes sweeping down the plains.”
“Ohhhhhhhhh-regon Trail, where the dysentery comes sweeping down the plains.” / the Lost Sectors - Play, YouTube

With this year’s release of Uncharted and a very buzzy trailer for HBO’s upcoming miniseries The Last of Us, it seems that video game adaptations are experiencing a bit of a boom. Not to mention that existing IP is generally the main currency of the modern entertainment industry.

So maybe it’s not a massive surprise that The Oregon Trail—every ’80s and ’90s kid’s favorite educational game—is set to hit the silver screen at some point in the near future. What might be slightly more surprising is the genre. Folks, it’s going to be an original movie musical.

The news came from an interview between Collider’s Steve Weintraub and the Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile directing duo of Josh Gordon and Will Speck. The idea arose during a conversation with their Lyle collaborators Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the songwriting pair best known for creating Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen. (They were also behind the music for 2016’s La La Land and 2017’s The Greatest Showman.)

“We were talking about what we could cook up next, because we really want to do another musical,” Speck told Collider. According to Speck, Pasek and Paul had “both been very obsessed with Oregon Trail. … They mentioned that, and we now have the rights to it, and we’re putting it together alongside them and some other exciting people.”

For those unfamiliar with the game, it helped teach kids what life was like for westward-bound migrants along the 19th-century Oregon Trail. And it didn’t shy away from capriciously killing off players from any number of diseases or accidents, including (but not limited to) a broken bone, a snake bite, exhaustion, fever, and drowning. 

There was always something morbidly comical about the blunt way the game forced children to confront death—anyone who has ever played will no doubt remember the sentence “You have died of dysentery”—and the filmmakers are committed to keeping that comedic undertone in their musical. Gordon and Speck are well-equipped for comedy; among their past credits are 2007’s Blades of Glory and 2010’s The Switch.

[h/t Collider]