Whether it’s a novel, a comic book, or even a newspaper article, there are several possible sources of material filmmakers can turn to for inspiration on their latest projects. Adaptations have long been part of Hollywood’s DNA, giving moviegoers a chance to see their favorite published characters or riveting true stories come to life on the screen. While some may pine for more original programming, there’s no denying that adaptations have generated some truly rewarding cinematic experiences.
In more recent years, a trend in adaptations has been to search for a popular toy line and try to turn it into a hit film franchise. Examples like Transformers and The LEGO Movie come to mind, as both have been successful in generating hundreds of millions of dollars in profit for their respective studios. Now, we can add another brand to that ever-growing list of “from shelf to screen”: Play-Doh. Yes, seriously.
Deadline is reporting that 20th Century Fox is finalizing a deal with Hasbro to secure the film rights for a live-action movie based on the Play-Doh toy line – clay modeling kits that people can use to sculpt a variety of objects (depending on which play kit they were using). Bridesmaids director Paul Feig is currently in talks to helm the film, and relatively unknown screenwriter Jason Micallef will pen the script.
The Play-Doh project is coming into fruition shortly after Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner and chief content creator Stephen Davis worked together to revise their film output, a move that was influenced by the failure of the Battleship movie in 2012. The company is focused on finding the right producing partners (and the proper budget) for each film they’re working on in an effort to ensure that it can be a quality film in addition to posting high box office numbers.
Obviously, one would be justified in scoffing at the notion of a Play-Doh film, as that toy line comes without years of mythology and established characters to tell stories (like Transformers, for instance). However, the same could be said about the aforementioned LEGO Movie once upon a time, and that movie became one of the most beloved of 2014 thanks to its sharp sense of humor, creative concept, and heartfelt narrative. Having talented directors like Phil Lord and Chris Miller calling the shots certainly didn’t hurt, and Fox is hoping that Feig will be able to deliver similar results.
And, in all honestly, Feig is a smart filmmaker to go into business with. He broke onto the scene with the Oscar-nominated Bridesmaids, and has been one of the more successful names in comedy ever since. The Heat made $159.8 million in 2013, and his latest film – Spy – is already garnering positive reviews from critics, suggesting that Feig’s hot streak will continue. Over the past few years, he’s displayed solid comedic chops and has earned the benefit of the doubt from most viewers.
The real test here will be Micallef’s script. He has one feature-length screenplay to his name (2012’s Butter) and that was a little-seen film that wasn’t well-received. It remains to be seen how he plans to tackle what on paper is a shaky premise, but if Hasbro truly is looking to recommit themselves creatively, something about Micallef’s talents must have caught their eye. Perhaps he’ll end up surprising us.
Since Play-Doh is still in the earliest stages of development, it is currently unknown when Fox would want to get it into theaters. If Feig signs on, it may not be for a while, since the director is gearing up his Ghostbusters reboot, which is slated to premiere in July 2016.
Theoretically, he could pull off both in a short period of time (like how Lord and Miller released LEGO and 22 Jump Street last year), but he’ll have his hands full trying to rejuvenate the Ghostbusters franchise that he may not want to juggle too many commitments at once. We’ll have to wait and see.
We’ll keep you updated on Play-Doh as more information becomes available.