Monday, February 24, 2014

Toying Around At The Box Office

(Clockwise l-r) LEGO® characters Unikitty (Alison Brie), Benny (Charlie Day), Metal Beard (Nick Offerman), Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), Batman (Will Arnett), Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), Emmet (Chris Pratt) and President Business (Will Ferrell) from “The LEGO® Movie,” from Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures and Lego System A/S. A Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.
Now that The LEGO Movie is a certified hit ($183.1 million domestic and counting after three weeks in theaters), and a sequel already has been announced for May 2017, I've started to wonder what other toy-based screenplays might be coming our way. Many past adaptations haven't been very good – Battleship, G.I. Joe, or The Smurfs anyone? – and though I am not a fan of the Transformers movies, they have made a great deal of noise at the box office (pun intended).

What's surprising about The LEGO Movie is that it is quite entertaining for kids and their parents. Friends are telling me they have taken their children to the theater for repeat viewings. This is perhaps more than any studio expects from a kids' movie released in February. “The LEGO Movie is everything we hoped it would be, and then some," said Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution at Warner Bros. Pictures in a news release."...We are thrilled by the overwhelming response and early word-of-mouth that has made this movie a must-see, and we have every expectation that this is just the beginning of a long and successful run.”

What's different about The LEGO Movie is the fact that it is animated. (Much of that workload was handled by Australia's Animal Logic.) To me, that seems a more natural fit for turning playground or playroom nostalgia into box office gold. Perhaps my reasoning for this is because when I was child, some of my favorite toys also were developed into animated series such as The Smurfs and Transformers shows. Today's live-action adaptations just don't have the same attraction for me. Then again, I'm not necessarily the intended audience, but people my age do decide whether or not to take our children to these movies – hence the incredible success of The LEGO Movie – and people my age are the ones writing the reviews for newspapers and the web.

So with that in mind, here are some of the toy-based movies we can expect to see soon, as well some I would like to see:

There are several movies based on board games in various stages of production, including Ouija board, Candyland and Monopoly. Ouija (2014) will be a small-budget horror movie. I'm not a fan of the horror genre in general, so I don't expect much from this movie and I don't expect to see it. The two other board game adaptations mentioned here are still in early development. It's a safe bet I won't see them either.

In other toy-related movie news: Expect to see film versions of the Hot Wheels and Tonka toy lines as well. Think Disney/Pixar's Cars without the cache that Disney/Pixar brings to animated features. Like me, I think most ticket buyers will see them as a Cars facsimile.

As far as what I would like to see get made: I would not be opposed to a modern Peanuts feature that ties in the old Snoopy Sno-Cone machines. Snoopy could open his own snow cone food truck. Crazier things have happened. Or how about a sci-fi take on the View-Master? And I can't be the only one who thinks Chris Hemsworth would make a good He-Man, but this would have to be live-action, and I doubt the actor would tie himself to another super-hero type of film series. And finally, LEGO has an extensive collection of space-themed collections that could be put to good use. The ball is in your court on that one, Warner Bros.

Courtesy of

UPDATE: Turns out a Peanuts movie IS in the works! The first teaser was released on 3/18/14. See it here:

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