EXCLUSIVE: Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese are getting the job turning the Hasbro toyline Micronauts into a feature film for JJ Abrams and Paramount Pictures. Along with the prospect of another Transformers film, Micronauts was one of the Hasbro brands mentioned as a priority project in a third quarter earnings conference call for investors today by Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner. Paramount recently made a deal with Hasbro for the property, to be produced by Bad Robot’s Abrams and Bryan Burk and Hasbro’s Goldner and Bennett Schneir. Micronauts marks another big job for a scribe team that had its breakthrough with Zombieland. They followed with G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation, which is now in production with Jon M. Chu directing and Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis joining a returning cast that includes Channing Tatum. The scribes wrote the X-Men spinoff film Deadpool for Fox, which has Ryan Reynolds attached to play the character he originated in Wolverine, and visual effects wiz Tim Miller set to direct. Wernick & Rheese are also adapting the graphic novel Cowboy Ninja Viking for Disney. The scribes are repped by WME.
UPDATE, 9:40 AM: Hasbro’s in “active discussions” with Paramount, Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg about a fourth Transformers, CEO Brian Goldner told analysts in a conference call today. ”Hopefully I’ll have more news for you next quarter,” he said. The most recent edition, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, will generate revenues for Hasbro between the $482M from the first film in the series in 2007 and $592M from the previous one in 2009. 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.
The CEO adds that cable channel The Hub is “making great progress” and is “ahead of plan” overseas where its programming runs in 142 countries. The channel is in 61M homes domestically; talks to increase distribution on cable are “going quite well,” although Goldner wouldn’t be specific. Ratings are up. On the advertising side, the channel has 120 more sponsors than it did last year when it was still Discovery Kids.
Goldner’s presentation impressed investors: Hasbro shares are up about 1% in midday trading. They opened down after the company reported 3Q earnings below expectations.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has quietly dropped out of Clue, one of the seven Hasbro games properties the studio contracted to make into movies in a ground-breaking six-year exclusive deal signed in 2008. Clue becomes the third project out of seven to be dropped by Universal (Monopoly and Magic, The Gathering were also kicked to the curb), but none of those projects are dead. In the case of the murder mystery board game Clue, Hasbro is funding the development and producing the film with Gore Verbinski’s Blind Wink. Verbinski, director of the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, Rango and the upcoming Lone Ranger, still plans to direct Clue, and he and Blind Wink’s John Krauss are producing with Hasbro’s Brian Goldner and Bennett Schneir.
They’ve just hired Flash Gordon scribes Burk Sharpless and Matt Sazama to write the Clue script. The writers will draft a take that Verbinski and his fellow producers came up with that retains the murder mystery spirit of the board game, but broadens the setting to a global stage. Beyond scripting Flash Gordon for Sony Pictures, Sharpless and Sazama are redrafting Dracula Year Zero. That project’s still hanging on at Universal, after being halted just short of the start line because of a high budget, when Alex Proyas was directing and Sam Worthington was going to star. ICM reps the writers.
Is all this a clue that Universal no longer wants to roll the dice on board game movies? Insiders say no. Rather, they tell me that Universal and Hasbro gradually narrowed their focus to the four films that most made sense for the studio: Battleship, the Peter Berg-directed summer 2012 action movie that stars Taylor Kitsch and Liam Neeson, with Universal just releasing its first trailer (below); Stretch Armstrong, which has Rob Letterman directing and Twilight Saga’s Taylor Lautner attached to play the rubbery title character; Candy Land, which is being written by Kung Fu Panda 2 co-writers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, who’ve described the film as Lord of the Rings, with edibles; and Ouija, which has McG attached to direct and Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form producing with Ian Bryce and Hasbro’s Goldner and Schneir.
HOLLYWOOD, CA (August 3, 2011) – Worldwide box office receipts for TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON, have hit $1 billion, Paramount Pictures announced today. To date, the third installment of the hit Transformers franchise, and the first shot in 3-D, has grossed $338 million in U.S. (through Monday) and $663 million internationally (through Tuesday).
“TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON is the first billion dollar grossing movie in the history of Paramount Pictures, marking a substantial milestone in the 99 year life of this legendary studio,” said Brad Grey, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Paramount Pictures. “We are grateful for the extraordinary work of Michael Bay and his film-making team, executive producer Steven Spielberg, and everyone at Paramount around the globe who played a part in helping make this latest TRANSFORMERS one of the 10 highest grossing films worldwide of all time.”
Screenwriter John Hlavin has been set by Sony Pictures to write Risk, a contemporary global action thriller based on the venerable board game. Pic is a co-production between Hasbro Entertainment and Overbrook Entertainment, and the producers are Brian Goldner, Bennett Schneir and James Lassiter. Hlavin has written on The Shield, and his original script The Gunslinger for Warner Bros made the Black List. He scripted Underworld: New Dawn for Paramount, which will release early next year, and turned in a heist script to Steve Zaillian’s Film Rites and DreamWorks. Risk was created by Albert Lamorisse, the French director of The Red Balloon in 1957. He called it La Conquete du Monde (The Conquest of the World). It was brought to the US by Parker Brothers two years later as Risk. Will the fact it was invented by a moviemaker keep Deadline commenters from sarcastically demanding new projects like Gnip Gnop: The Movie, the way they always do when I write about a board game transfer? We’ll know soon enough. Hlavin’s repped by UTA and Management 360.
Hasbro has set most of its film action at Universal, including the Peter Berg-directed Battleship and Stretch Armstrong.
The next hot directing job: Ouija, which will follow Battleship as the next Hasbro branded property to move into production at Universal since the Rob Letterman-directed, Taylor Lautner-attached Stretch Armstrong got pushed back and probably won’t start until 2013. The studio is still talking to directors, but I’ve heard that the three candidates in the mix at the moment are Taken helmer Pierre Morel, The Losers helmer Sylvain White, and Scott Stewart, who just completed the Screen Gems pic Priest. The pic is being produced by Hasbro’s Brian Goldner and Bennett Schneir along with Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form. Universal is planning to get the film into production next summer, for release around Thanksgiving 2012. That will follow on the heels of the Peter Berg-directed Battleship, which opens May 18, 2012. Ouija‘s a big picture, with a budget targeted around $80 million-$100 million. The script is by Tron: Legacy writers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis. A decision will be made in the next two weeks, because all three of those filmmakers are being courted for other jobs.