Hollywood to make films based on Hungry Hungry Hippos, Monopoly
Hollywood toys with films based on Monopoly, Hungry Hungry Hippos and Action Man
McClatchy-Tribune in Los Angeles
Hollywood continues to go crazy for toys and games.
Hasbro, the toy company behind the hits Transformers and G.I. Joe, as well as this year's flop Battleship, has signed a deal with independent production and finance company Emmett/Furla Films to make movies based on the board games Hungry Hungry Hippos and Monopoly, and the toy Action Man.
Hasbro, which has a film production office at the Universal Pictures lot, announced the three-picture deal on Thursday and confirmed that the first movie would be Monopoly. Production is targeted to start next year.
Emmett/Furla principal Randall Emmett confirmed that the other two properties covered by the deal were Action Man and Hungry Hungry Hippos.
Action Man is a British toy that launched in the 1960s based on Hasbro's American hit, G.I. Joe, a range of action figures based on branches of the US military.
That presents obvious movie-making opportunities, but a film based on Hungry Hungry Hippos is an altogether more curious prospect.
The board game, launched in 1978, is a bizarre but addictively frantic game, beloved of small children, in which players compete with hinged plastic hippopotamuses to swallow marbles off a board.
Emmett/Furla plans to make it into an animated movie for children.
Monopoly was previously in development at Universal, where famed director Ridley Scott was a producer. He will still produce it, along with Emmett/Furla.
In an earlier interview, Emmett said he planned to make all three properties into family movies with broad appeal, and that he was not put off by the commercial failure of Battleship in May.
"Everything is about how you approach it in price," he said. "We're excited to make these movies in budget ranges where we are comfortable."
While the Hasbro movies will be expensive for an independent company, Emmett said he hoped to spend less than US$100 million on each of them. Battleship cost Universal more than US$200 million to make, but only grossed around US$65 million.
Emmett/ Furla still needs to find studio partners to distribute the Hasbro movies. With US$525 million in financial backing, the firm has become one of Hollywood's most prolific independent film companies.
Its other movies coming out next year include The Tomb, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone; 2 Guns, with Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington; and Broken City with Wahlberg and Russell Crowe.
Along with sequels to Transformers and G.I. Joe at Paramount, Hasbro has other production properties set up around Hollywood, including Candyland at Sony Pictures and Stretch Armstrong at Relativity Media.