After ‘Lego Movie’ mania, more toy-based films are coming

"The Lego Movie" grossed $69.1 million in its opening weekend.
“The Lego Movie” grossed $69.1 million in its opening weekend.
(Warner Bros.)

The monster success of “The Lego Movie,” which took in $69.1 million over its opening weekend, has Hollywood scanning the aisles of toy stores, looking for the next hit.

In recent years, several film series based on action figures and other children’s products have found major box-office success. Among those have been pictures based on the Transformers and G.I. Joe toy lines.

Despite recent high-profile toy-based film missteps like the 2012 flop “Battleship,” Warner Bros.’ Lego hit could lead to a toy movie resurgence.

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Among the projects in varying stages of development or production are films based on Hasbro’s Ouija board, Mattel’s Hot Wheels and Pretty Ugly’s Uglydolls. And Warner Bros., of course, already is developing a sequel based on Lego Group’s iconic plastic bricks.

Also on deck could be movies based on the board games Candyland and Monopoly as well as the Tonka toy car and truck line.

Though there have been disappointments, toy-based films are proven commodities at the box office. For example, each of the three “Transformers” films has grossed at least $700 million worldwide, and the two “G.I. Joe” pictures both crossed the $300-million mark.

Paramount’s next “Transformers” picture, “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” stars Mark Wahlberg and comes out June 27. That studio, which also is behind the “G.I. Joe” movies, is developing another film in that series, too.

Paramount also is releasing “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” in August, though that project -- unlike other aforementioned films -- is based on a comic book that later spawned a line of toys.

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Universal Pictures is releasing the Ouija project, which Platinum Dunes and Blumhouse Pictures are producing. The film, slated for release Oct. 24, centers on a group of friends who use a Ouija board to try to contact a dead friend but instead cross paths with a dark spirit.

Universal also is behind a movie based on Uglydolls, a line of quirky plush toys. The project is being developed by production company Illumination Entertainment, the main supplier of family movies to Universal.

A film based on the Hot Wheels die-cast toy cars is being developed by Legendary Pictures, the company behind recent movies “Man of Steel” and “Pacific Rim.” The film would be directed by Simon Crane, a veteran second unit director whose credits include “World War Z” and the forthcoming Tom Cruise-starring “Edge of Tomorrow.” Writer Paul Attanasio, whose credits include “Quiz Show” and “Donnie Brasco,” is rewriting the script from a draft by Art Marcum and Matt Holloway.

Though several toy-based projects are in development or production, some appear dead -- or at least mothballed. A long-in-the-works movie based on Hasbro’s Stretch Armstrong toy was dropped by film company Relativity Media last year. Prior to Relativity, a project based on the gel-filled action figure was being developed at Universal.

“Stretch Armstrong is an incredible character who will make an amazing movie, and we know that Hasbro has some new ideas they are looking at,” Relativity said in a statement Oct. 12. “Relativity and Hasbro have a tremendous relationship, and we decided to focus on other projects. We look forward to continuing to work together.”

Hasbro, which found success with the “Transformers” and “G.I. Joe” movies, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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