It’s hard for me to believe that Hollywood has come to this: Today, the first feature film to be released as a result of the recent partnership between Hasbro and Universal Pictures was announced, and the winner is… Stretch Armstrong! If you grew up in the 70′s, or the 90′s, you have likely experienced the joy of stretching his arms or legs until the disgusting ooze seeped out of the tears you just made in your favorite hero. And oh what a joy that was! The tentative release date has been set for April 15th, 2011. Included in the announcement was that Academy Award-winning producer Brian Grazer (A Beautiful Mind and American Gangster) will team with Hasbro and Universal, with Steve Oedekerk (Bruce Almighty and Evan Almighty) writing the screenplay. Hasbro’s Brian Goldner and Bennett Schneir will also produce.
For those of you who know nothing about the iconic Hasbro action toy, Stretch Armstrong was a “super hero” whose arms, legs, and sometimes his body, could stretch up to 4 feet before returning to it’s original form. Think DC’s Plastic Man and Elongated Man or Marvel’s Mr Fantastic for a more modern reference point. I’ll never forget it: “Through the years, the product line stretched into a wide range of toys and supporting characters that built upon the Stretch Armstrong legacy by allowing kids to ‘stretch their imaginations’ with play experiences unique to the inventive Stretch Armstrong brand.” I had several Stretch Armstrong toys, and as I remember it, they were the only ones that truly made me sad when they broke. If you ever had one, I’m sure you had fond memories of them too. Here’s the official line from Hasbro on this new adventure for their pliable blond action hero, followed by Universal Pictures’ official take on the project:
“When Hasbro signed the multi-year strategic partnership with Universal, it was one more powerful example of our commitment to re-imagine, re-invent and re-ignite our incredible brands beyond traditional toys and games,” said Brian Goldner, Hasbro’s President and CEO. “We are excited that together with Universal, Brian Grazer and Steve Oedekerk, that we can take Stretch Armstrong to new heights as Hasbro’s latest great action hero franchise.”
“Hasbro is a very important partner to our studio,” said Chairman of Universal Pictures Marc Shmuger. “‘Stretch Armstrong’ couldn’t be in more capable hands than Imagine and Hasbro. We’re so excited to bring this iconic property to audiences around the world in April of 2011.”
Sounds like the whole classic “pre-movie studio hype machine” getting the ball rolling early. I would expect nothing less. What I find more interesting is the news that Brian Grazer is attached to the project, and what he had to say about working on Stretch Armstrong: “Stretch Armstrong is a character I have wanted to see on screen for a long time,” said Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer. “He’s an unconventional kind of super hero with a power that no one would want. It’s a story about a guy stretching – if you will – the limits of what is possible to become all that he can be.” Grazer’s most recent works, including American Gangster, having been nothing less than fascinating. Grazer is, in my opinion, one of the finest producers in the business right now. His involvement in this project is a good indicator to me that this will end up being more than just a run of the mill, child’s super hero film. In fact, as far as the other Hasbro related films go, there is a lot of talent attached to some of these upcoming projects. Here’s a list of some of the projects lined up, and the high-quality Hollywood talent attached in various roles:
Currently in development are Monopoly, with Ridley Scott set to produce and direct and Pamela Pettler writing the screenplay; Candy Land, with Kevin Lima to direct based on a script from Etan Cohen; Clue, with Gore Verbinski to produce and direct; Ouija, with Michal Bay to produce; and Battleship, with Peter Berg to direct from a screenplay by Jon and Erich Hoeber.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that movies based on board games are ridiculous and represent a complete lack of creativity. However, it’s hard to not be intrigued by this films with the top-notch talent associated to them. I honestly have no idea why these people are associated to board game based movies. Monopoly? What is Ridley Scott going to do with that? How is he going to turn that game into a successful film? Clue with Gore Verbinski? Isn’t he a little too talented to work on craptastic ideas like that? Anyone remember the first Clue movie? Wasn’t that enough??? Ouija with Michael Bay is the only project I can loosely understand, and I’d imagine that film to be based on a Ouija board in name only and featuring only a minor appearance by the game board itself.
The main point I’m trying to make is that it’s a lame concept that doesn’t make much sense unless the movies are only associated to the games in name only. Only in that way would all of these films make sense. So I guess that if we looked at it that way, and the writers/producers/directors also viewed the film in that way, there is potential and hope for these films after-all. Of course, all of these talented film makers could come to their senses and drop out of the process; it’s happened before. At this point it’s too early to tell what will become of these films. I’m going to try to keep an open mind about these films, as hard as that may be to do. Who knows? I’m sure these films will make money, but maybe they end up being good after all. Just something to keep an eye on.
As always, if/when any news breaks on Stretch Armstrong or any of the other Hasbro/Universal films, I’ll keep you posted.