Filmmakers toying around - Metro US

Filmmakers toying around

If Hollywood gets its way this weekend, we will all soon be going to theatres to take in thrillers about Stretch Armstrong, He-Man and even the popular board game Monopoly.

That’s because this Friday’s theatrical release of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra will firmly establish the latest trend in filmmaking — movies based on popular toys.

Of course, it’s not a completely novel idea. Even before Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen racked up over $380 million (and counting) this summer, there had been earlier proverbial dips of the toe in the toy genre. But why have retro-toy movies become so popular?

“It’s an escape from economic issues, woes and stress,” said Transformers star Megan Fox recently. “People need to get away from reality and I think watching a movie about toys is a good way to numb your brain to things you don’t want to be dealing with in life.”

That nostalgic flight may be influential but there’s also an entirely more strategic game working behind the scenes. With two major toy companies (Hasbro, Mattel) now aggressively paired with Hollywood’s top talent agencies, it seems the toymakers are cross-pollinating their product with the cinema directly.

In fact, Hasbro (both Transformers and G.I. Joe) has set up a six-year deal with Universal Pictures to obtain more authority on their toys’ image.

“I think what we’re seeing in the world at large is the power of brands distinguishing themselves,” Universal Pictures Chairman Marc Shmuger recently told The Business Insider. “As we’re gripped with fear and anxiety, we look for something we can rely on and trust … so the value of brands has changed, (and with it) what the owners of the brands want to accomplish changes too.”

In addition to the aforementioned toys being turned into movies, other products in film development include board games like Battleship (with Hancock director Peter Berg attached) and Candy Land (written by Tropic Thunder’s Etan Cohen).

As well, expect future movies about Hot Wheels, Masters of the Universe and even 1960s-era action figure Major Matt Mason — which is linked to none other than Tom Hanks. And when you’ve pervaded the influence of such A-list actors as Hanks, you know you’ve made it in Hollywood.

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