Mattel Working On Straight-To-Big-Screen-Franchise Toys

Looking to cut out that long wait between childhood phenomenon and big-screen blockbuster, El Segundo-based toymaker Mattel has begun developing toys that have Hollywood storylines and direct-to-film pedigree built in.

New York Magazine's Vulture blog reports that Mattel has already built the drive train for one such toy line, which will be based on a subaquatic alien civilization. The toymaker's executives call the built-for-Hollywood process "transmedia," and Vulture reports that Fast and the Furious principal Neal Moritz has signed on to produce the underwater project. (He's already looking for screenwriters).

"It's actually a great idea, with the caveat that they need to coordinate the story and have it all make sense well beforehand," Jeff Gomez, CEO of the New York-based Starlight Runner Entertainment, told Vulture.

The toymaker will also look at little-screen concepts, and Gomez mentioned Cartoon Network's Mattel-based show Hot Wheels: Battle Force 5 as a model for success.

Hollywood has increasingly banked on the big-buck returns of comic-book and toy-based franchises in recent years: Spider-Man, Batman, Transformers, G.I. Joe. They seem to promise safer and longer-term returns than one-off dramas and comedies; a younger, more theater-friendly demographic is built-in.


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