Wednesday, February 6, 2019

In Laman's Terms: Six Movies Based On Toys That Never Got Made

In Laman's Terms is a weekly editorial column where Douglas Laman rambles on about certain topics or ideas that have been on his mind lately. Sometimes he's got serious subjects to discuss, other times he's just got some silly stuff to shoot the breeze about. Either way, you know he's gonna talk about something In Laman's Terms!

Yes, two weeks in a row where In Laman's Terms used the "Listicle" format of writing. Sorry about that, I'll try to get a traditional editorial essay going next week, but I did wanna try out the "Listicle" format again today to talk about movies based on toys. Hollywood has had an on-again/off-again infatuation with these types of films over the past 12 years, with Transformers (in 2007) and The LEGO Movie (in 2014) each starting a mini-wave of studios announcing new movies based on toys in hope of capturing the box office success of those titles. Some (like the two G.I. Joe movies or the upcoming Playmobil Movie) actually got made, while others languished.

Since we've got a new LEGO movie on the way this Friday, not to mention a whole horde of potential upcoming movies based on toys like Kevin Hart's Monopoly movie, a Snake Eyes movie and a Funko! movie, I thought it was time to look back on six movies based on toys that have been announced over the years that have never actually gotten made. Strap yourselves in folks, it's time for a dive into some toys in the Hollywood toybox that are gathering dust!

First up is...
Back in April 2015, 20th Century Fox announced that, as part of their long-term deal with Bridesmaids director Paul Feig to direct films for the studio, Feig would be directing a live-action feature film based on Play-Doh. Yes, Play-Doh, the long-beloved Hasbro toy that's all too frequently mistaken for food. No plot details were revealed for the curious sounding project except that Feig said in an interview the same month that the proposed feature would be "...hilarious...[and] big in scope." No other word has been heard on the project in the nearly four years since it was announced, though Paul Feig said in a September 2018 interview that the project was "...still in heavy development" since nobody could agree on an idea for a film based on Play-Doh.
Hot off the success of their Transformers movies, DreamWorks announced that two of the masterminds behind the first two movies in that franchise, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, would be spearheading a movie based on the View-Master toy, one that Brad Caleb Kane would pen the screenplay. Despite all the hotly in-demand talent lined up for the project, the View-Master movie ended up getting tossed to the curb, with Orci & Kurtzman revealing in an August 2013 Mandatory interview that the canceled feature would have told a fantasy storyline wherein the View-Master would actually transport characters to whatever they saw in the View-Master toy. How Orci would have fit his 9/11 truther conspiracy theories into the proceedings remains an eternal mystery.
Hungry Hungry Hippos
A movie based on Hungry Hungry Hippos has long been a go-to joke for people looking to make fun of Hollywood making movies based on board games, but it actually was announced as an actual thing back in October 2012 as part of a long-term deal with Hasbro and Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films. Apparently, it would have been an animated kids movie, but no other details were ever revealed for the project. While we'll never know what circa. 2013 celebrities would have been shoehorned into the cast of a computer-animated Hungry Hungry Hippos movie, perhaps the project will get revived one of these days now that Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films has now been transformed into MoviePass Films. A Hungry Hungry Hippos movie from MoviePass Films somehow feels like a proper pairing.
Furby A.K.A. knock-off Gizmo has actually gotten some direct-to-video movies in the past like Furby Island, but as part of The Weinstein Company's mid-2010's push into making more commercially minded fare with the TWC-Dimension brand, a live-action/CGI Furby movie for the big screen was announced. Both TWC-Dimension and Hasbro had big aspirations for the project, but once The Weinstein Company went bankrupt, the project was put on ice. It's not clear now who even has the movie rights to Furby now, let alone if this movie will ever see the light of day. Furby devotees should cling to their VHS copies of Furby Island tightly, it may be the only Furby movie they get for a good long while!
Magic: The Gathering
Hasbro has been trying to get a Magic: The Gathering movie off the ground about a decade now, with the project originating as part of Hasbro's 2008 deal with Universal to supply the studio with blockbusters based on their toy properties. The only film to emerge from that deal was Battleship, so you can imagine Universal and Hasbro eventually just split up. That means Magic: The Gathering shifted over to 20th Century Fox where the studio's go-to genre producer, Simon Kinberg, was tasked with helping the project get off the ground. Zero word has been heard of the feature in the five years since it moved over to Fox, so it's not a stretch to presume it's dead.

Speaking of stretch...
Stretch Armstrong
Hollywood circa. 2009 was convinced Taylor Lautner was the next big leading man in the making and quickly threw together a bunch of projects for him to star in. One of these projects was a feature film adaptation of the Hasbro action figure Stretch Armstrong. His defining trait was that his arms stretched. Originally set up at Universal, it moved over to troubled movie studio Relativity Media at the start of 2012, a shift that saw Lautner departing the project. Stretch Armstrong never made the projected April 11, 2014 release date Relativity set for it and a decade after its initial announcement, the project hasn't come to fruition. Interestingly, this wasn't the first time somebody tried to make a Stretch Armstrong movie, back in the early '90s, Disney was eyeballing Tim Allen and Danny DeVito to play the character in a family movie. I have no personal interest in the Stretch Armstrong action figures whatsoever but the prospect of Danny DeVito playing a superhero who can stretch his limbs to great lengths would certainly be more than enough to get me to buy a ticket to a Stretch Armstrong movie!

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