There was a time when Universal Pictures was ready to back just about every Hasbro toy or board game movie adaptation currently being developed. Eventually (in late Summer 2011) the studio decided that wasn't the most brilliant of ideas, and purged itself of projects such as McG's Ouija, Ridley Scott's Monopoly, Gore Verbinski's Clue reboot - and the would-be Taylor Lautner starring vehicle, Stretch Armstrong.
Monopoly and Ouija are both getting rewrites, but have yet to be acquired by an alternative distributor. Stretch Armstrong, on the other hand, has already been picked up by Relativity Media, which appears ready to start from scratch on the flick.
Relativity is now set to distribute Stretch Armstrong theatrically in both the U.S. and overseas (through its foreign partners) on April 11th, 2014. Producers attached to the project include Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaugh (Cowboys & Aliens, Immortals) and Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner (Transformers), among others.
Here's a refresher about the original pliable Hasbro action figure (via Relativity's official press release):
Stretch Armstrong is the classic action hero figure first launched by Hasbro in 1976 and re-launched in the 90’s, sold successfully throughout North America and in markets across the world. The original Stretch's unique design broke free of traditional action figures, as he could be stretched over and over and always returned back to his original size. The nostalgic toy is considered to be rare and collectible to this day.
Twilight's Lautner had originally planned to play the titular (rubbery) muscular action hero, with Steve Oedekerk (Kung Pow: Enter the Fist, Evan Almighty) penning the screenplay and Rob Letterman (Monsters vs Aliens, Gulliver's Travels) serving as director on what was clearly going to be a broadly comedic Stretch Armstrong adaptation. However, it appears the project will now be retooled completely, without any creative input from those aforementioned players.
Then again - given the quality of Lautner, Odekerk, and Letterman's overall collective body of work, that doesn't exactly sound like an immense loss, does it? Moving on...
There's no word yet on what Relativity has in mind for the Stretch Armstrong movie, but (given the nature of the "source material") it's probably safe to say: the flick will likely be even more cartoony and light-hearted of an effects-heavy action vehicle than even director Michael Bay's Transformers movies. Not to mention, much more comical in nature than either of the Hasbro property-based films due to hit theaters in 2012 (Battleship and G.I. Joe: Retaliation).
It was for that reason that Lautner (seemingly) originally chose to sign up for Stretch Armstrong, seeing how it would serve as more a comedic foil to the serious action-oriented projects he had plans to headline. At least, that's how things looked before last year's Abduction sufficiently demonstrated that the actor is NOT yet a bankable commodity, outside of when he's playing Jacob Black onscreen.
Point being - there's no actor who really jumps out as an obvious replacement for Lautner, given both their screen presence and where they are professionally. Of course, that could easily change once Relativity reveals what direction they are now taking with Stretch Armstrong.
Best to not expect to learn too much more about Stretch Armstrong in the near future, though, seeing how (to reiterate) it won't be arriving in theaters until April 2014. All the same, we will continue to keep you updated on the status of the project.
Source: Relativity Media