Monday, 30 January 2012

Hollywood Babble On & On #844: Why Oh Why?

Today, I'm going to ask the question "Why?" and try my best to answer it.

First up, I'd like to announce that Universal Pictures did not do something stupid.

They dropped the plan to co-produce a big budget action-adventure movie based on this...
That's right, the old Stretch Armstrong doll, a speedo clad Adonis made of rubber and corn syrup. They had even signed Twilight hunk Taylor Lautner to star in the title role, though he's now out of the project as well.

So you're probably asking yourself.... Why?

Well, let's look at the facts of the case.

1. Now I was a little kid during the original Stretch Armstrong era and even had one.... he was pretty lame as a character.  Especially compared to the Star Wars figures that were flooding the market at the time. Sure, he could stretch, but that was it.

2.  What the hell kind of a story were they going to do with this property?  A wrestler gets stretching powers, so he goes around stretching at people? At least Plastic Man was an all around shape-shifter and Mr. Fantastic was also a super-scientist with three super-powered pals.  There is no real story behind the Stretch Armstrong character, and even the overactive imagination of sugar-cartoon-buzzed young kids were taxed trying to come up with situations that needed the help of a guy with blobs for hands dressed only in a speedo.  Eventually the only entertainment value he had was just seeing how far you could stretch him before he started bleeding corn syrup.

3.  Poor Taylor Lautner's first non-Twilight leading role, Abduction, was out of North American theaters before the opening credits were done. In the old days of Hollywood the studio would have "toughened him up" by putting him in a couple of war movies and/or westerns alongside a more experienced actor who looked like he could take a punch as well as give one.

4. The only plus for this project was that the toy company Hasbro was willing to partially back it, and that was only because they already owned Stretch Armstrong and hope that 70s nostalgia would sell some tickets and move some merchandise.

However Universal's fairly sound decision isn't the end of this story. In fact, I wouldn't be stretching the truth to say that there was still a little while left to go before this boondoggle in the making starts leaking corn syrup.

Relativity Media has picked up the project and are showing every intention of running with it.

Which makes me ask once more.... Why?

I think the answer is quite simple. Relativity's been losing money, investors, partners, and friends faster than a reality TV star loses their dignity.  They need a big sized partner like Hasbro with deep pockets to keep their ship afloat, and if that means making Stretch Armstrong: The Movie, or Hungry, Hungry Hippos, to be directed by Lars Von Trier, then so be it.

UPDATE: Reader ILDC mentioned that Hasbro won't be "producing" and how that might mean that they won't be doing any direct financing of the films in question.

Well, the term "producing" has some very nebulous definitions in Hollywood. There are many hedge funds and investment firms that put money into films while not considered to be "producing" them, and there are people and companies that get credited as producers while contributing no money or effort to the movie but simply because they hold onto the rights to something that was necessary to make the film.

Also, having a big international manufacturer like Hasbro on your side is a great form of insurance if your company is having money and investor troubles. This is because there's nothing better guarantees that a film will be finished and released to other money sources, a real concern for investors, than having a big corporation with a vested interest in the film.

Then there's the inevitable marketing blitz Hasbro will have with their toys cross promoting the film, and doing a lot to cover the usually onerous prints and advertising costs that can often be more than a film's production budget.


I'm going to do another "Ask Furious D" this coming Friday, so CLICK THIS LINK and ask me anything about pop culture and/or the business behind it, and I will either answer it, or pompously fake my way through it.



    "In other movie news, the company is reworking the budget for a film based on its Ouija game in the hope of reviving the project that Universal recently dropped. Battleship is on course to be released worldwide in April and in May in the U.S., with G.I. Joe: 2 following in June. Hasbro is working with J.J. Abrams on Micronaughts. Goldner says Hasbro is 'actively developing' scripts for films based on Monopoly, Risk, and Clue as well as 'projects yet to be named.' Goldner says, though, that Hasbro won’t produce its own films."

    This seems to imply Hasbro doesn't do any financing.

  2. Battleship, Monopoly, Candyland, Stretch Armgstrong....HW is making films about things that once people only JOKED about.

    Now I am waiting for the word that M.A.S.K. and Silverhawks are greenlight as well as Starfire starring Taylor Swift.

    I still fear we will see lautner so Bravestaar.

    Points will be awarded to anyone who even shows what those cartoons are.

  3. garbage like this is why after leaving her Disney show, demi Lovato said in interviews she wants to do films, but is concentrating on her music. I can see with crap like this in the pipeline she has not been in front of the camera yet.

    Her bet would be getting a supporting role in some lower budget indie film in the mold of "The Wrestler" to show the movie people she can act. Demi and rrst of these disney stars are NOT MOVIE STARS. They cannot on their own carry a picture to box office glory, then again neither can the A-listers these days.