It was fated: Hasbro storms the multiplex

Posted by · 9:22 am · June 22nd, 2009

TransformersIt’s panning out to be a good end-of-decade run for Hasbro, the Rhode-Island-based toy manufacturer smartly focused upon in this Dave Itzkoff New York Times pre-release piece for “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.”  After all, what of substance can you really dig into, journalistically, when it comes to these films?  An internal email that won’t matter in a week, if it even does after the weekend?

Anyway, in addition to “Transformers,” Hasbro will also finally see its G.I. Joe line make it to screens in August in the form of the reportedly troubled “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.”  But the fun doesn’t end there for the company, which saw a heyday in the 1980s that it’s hoping to reach once again with revamped versions of old franchises.  A slew of boardgames have been optioned for adaptation, including Battleship, Candyland and Monopoly, as well as Ouiji, which is being developed by “Transformers” director Michael Bay.

Oh, and don’t forget about Ron Howard’s “Stretch Armstrong.”  Silly, of course, but it seems Hollywood isn’t willing to place a risk on anything without at least some form of built-in fanbase, no matter how ancient the fan base.

Anyway, Itzkoff gets into some trouble when he probes screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci for something substantive as it pertains to writing these films.  There’s nothing there, chief.  But the more interesting stuff comes with the revelation that Hasbro’s chief executive, Brian Goldner, has been aiming the company’s revitalization at Tinseltown from the start:

The revitalization of the Transformers and G.I. Joe franchises began this decade under Hasbro’s chief executive, Brian Goldner, a veteran of the advertising agency J. Walter Thompson and Bandai America (which makes the Power Rangers toys).

When Mr. Goldner, 45, joined Hasbro in 2000, the company was largely focused on Pokémon imitators and toys licensed from movies. The Transformers had become robots that turned into wild beasts, and new G.I. Joe figures had been phased out in favor of replicas of the vintage 1960s dolls.

“We had relegated these brands to an experience that was limited to the playroom floor or the kitchen table,” Mr. Goldner said. “The history of those brands was much more expansive.”

Under Mr. Goldner’s direction the Transformers action figures and animation returned in 2002 to the characters and stories introduced in the 1980s. After those toys were successful, Hasbro issued updated versions of its ’80s-era G.I. Joe warriors and their Cobra enemies. The objective, Mr. Goldner said, was not only to sell toys but also to show the film industry that, cinematically speaking, they were no different from Spider-Man or Batman.

There’s also an opening anecdote about how Bay originally thought the concept was lame but saw the light when he visited Hasbro headquarters to receive a thorough education on the narrative involved.  And that didn’t make him think it was even lamer?  Anyway, I’ll be seeing the new film tonight but I’m hearing bad things (worse than anticipated, in any case).  Read the rest of the story at The New York Times.

→ 11 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

11 responses so far

  • 1 6-22-2009 at 9:46 am

    Kevin said...

    I’m also seeing it tonight, though I am not worried about things critics and whatnot have been saying. I go to the Transformers movies to see two things.

    Great special effects and giant fucking robots kicking the shit out of eachother.

    I’m not expecting some deep, TDK type thing. It’s a mindless summer blockbuster, and knowing that allows me to check my brain at the door and just sit back and enjoy : )

  • 2 6-22-2009 at 9:47 am

    Kevin said...

    That and honestly, the only bad thing I have really heard about it is that it’s too long.

  • 3 6-22-2009 at 9:59 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I’m not expecting depth either, Kevin. But I’m also not expecting racist robots and metal testicles, but apparently I’ll be getting that, too.

  • 4 6-22-2009 at 10:08 am

    Kevin said...

    Eh, those sorts of things are inevitable when dealing with blockbusters that are going to sell toys, and Mr. Bay. For me, I just get my eye-rolling and face-palming out of the way quickly and try not to mind the silliness and just enjoy the action. As you pointed out in your top ten action sequences column, even if you think these are horrible movies, the action is still amazingly awesome, which is much more than can be said for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Terminator Salvation, etc.

  • 5 6-22-2009 at 11:19 am

    actionman said...

    you hear that sound? that’s optimus and co. they’re almost here…

  • 6 6-22-2009 at 11:28 am

    Kevin said...

    Indeed :D

    I heard that the robots themselves have a much larger role and a lot more dialogue and screentime this time around, which is always a good thing. I also heard the Prime is all kinds of badass.

  • 7 6-22-2009 at 3:40 pm

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    All I hear is the sound of a big CGI fart in the wind.

  • 8 6-22-2009 at 4:46 pm

    JC said...

    But it’s, like, the most explosive fart ever. ;)

    Anyways, it’s interesting that they’re complaining about the length, given that, according to imdb, this one’s only five minutes longer than the first one.

    So, I’m (obviously) not interested in seeing the movie (though I’ll admit to watching the cartoon when I was a kid), but I’m curious: Is this only the second (fictional) feature filmed partly with IMAX cameras (after TDK)?

    I’m aware that Harry Potter 6 is going to be in IMAX 3D, but I imagine that entire film will be cropped accordlingly. Is Iron Man 2 going to be the next (partly) 1.44:1 flick?

  • 9 6-22-2009 at 4:47 pm

    JC said...

    Sorry, not “cropped”…letterboxed.

  • 10 6-22-2009 at 6:15 pm

    Kevin said...

    I think you may be correct about that. From what I heard, the Forest Battle (which from what I hear is mind-blowingly awesome) was all shot in IMAX, so you get shots of life-sized Optimus Prime, which is pretty awesome in it’s own right. I’m not aware of other scenes, but I do know that several other actions scenes were shot in IMAX, just not sure which ones.

    Harry Potter 6, like the last one, will likely have a few select scenes in IMAX 3D, akin to the Voldemort/Dumbledore duel in the last one. But like Watchmen and Star Trek, I think they are just bigger projections rather that actual IMAX-filmed scenes.

    Nolan stated he was interested in filming an entire film in IMAX, so with Inception we may get a cinematic experience so mind blowing that our heads explode “Scanners” style. :P

  • 11 6-23-2009 at 12:44 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    BTW check out today’s IMDB poll. The result is interesting to say the least.