EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox is making a deal with Hasbro for a live-action film based on the venerable toy brand Play-Doh. I’m told Bridesmaids helmer Paul Feig is negotiating to direct the film, with Jason Micallef writing the script. Hasbro will produce with Chernin Entertainment and Feig’s Feigco banner.
This becomes the latest example of studios embracing branded products for tentpole entertainment. It’s the latest film project for Hasbro, which has about as much momentum in the branded film realm as anybody. Before you start writing a catty comment about how Play-Doh isn’t a movie and Hollywood has run out of ideas, remember it’s the same one you wrote when Warner Bros began planning movies based on LEGO. There, the talented team of Phil Lord & Christopher Miller found a disruptive movie in those building blocks that cost $60 million, grossed $658 million worldwide, and hatched not only a sequel but spinoffs.
Fox has the same caliber of filmmaker to shape the film adaptation of Play-Doh, the multi-colored blobs of clay that have sold over 2 billion cans. Feig, coming off the Melissa McCarthy-Sandra Bullock comedy Heat, is prepping to release the Fox comedy Spy and he’ll next direct a new Ghostbusters at Sony with Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon. Hasbro approach Feig and Chernin and they spent a long time coming up with a take for a feature, and then turned Micallef loose on the script.
This comes after Hasbro — led by CEO Brian Goldner and chief content officer Stephen Davis — re-calibrated its branded film projects following the Battleship disappointment, and found the right producing partners to let the brands do their work at a smart price point. For instance, the $5 million-budget thriller Ouija has grossed around $100 million worldwide. Next up is Jem And The Holograms, directed by G.I. Joe: Retaliation helmer Jon M. Chu, and a movie based on the playing card game Magic The Gathering, which Simon Kinberg is producing.
On the larger-budget scale, Hasbro is in the center of the campaign that Deadline revealed last week, where Paramount Pictures is hiring Akiva Goldsman to supervise a writer’s room for his college pal Michael Bay. The aim is to hatch ideas for sequels and spinoffs from the billion-dollar Transformers line.
Micallef is repped by WME and Underground. Feig is repped by CAA.