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This film is based on actual toys (1 of 2)

Toy makers are producing films based on their products

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Hasbro will launch Battleship in 2012

Transformers is probably the most successful film based in toys

Tipically toys follow movies: within the licensing plan of many blockbusters contracts to launch toys are included -figures, plush toys, board games... But sometimes it goes the other way around: toys inspire Hollywood movies.

This has a clear advantage for the toy maker: to co-produce a feature film can be expensive, but toys can be sold with a license free of royalties. Moreover, the toy maker can collect fees from other licensees.

This is not a small business: sales of toys related to entertainment licenses grew 38% between 2004 and 2010, while revenues from non-licensed toys fell 14%, according to Hasbro.

Of course, this is not a trend that has many years of history. During the 80's television series based on toys were launched, such as G. I. Joe and Dungeons & Dragons, but the first attempts to bring these products to theaters were not well received by the public: titles like Masters of the Universe ( Mattel, 1987) and My Little Pony (1986) were commercial failures. In fact, this last film brought Hasbro a loss of ten million dollars.

Robots that make money
In recent years this line of business has been taken up again. The company that has done it with more enthusiasm is Hasbro, and the clearest example is Transformers. These toys were born in 1984 and became a success for the company. Already in the 80's, a Transformers Marvel comic was published. Also, a television series was launched (between 1984 and 1988, and between 2007 and 2009). The jump to theaters would not come until 2007, with the production of Steven Spielberg and with Michael Bay ( The Rock, Armageddon, Pearl Harbour) as director.

The first film grossed $ 700 million, becoming the fifth most-watched movie of the year. The second Transformers sold $ 830 million in tickets (fourth film of the year). The third film had grossed over 750 million by mid-July, about six weeks after its release.

But the business for Hasbro was in toys and licensing: 250 toy licensing agreements were signed in 2007, that combined with sales of its own toys reported revenues of $ 480 million. The second film achieved sales worth $ 592 million, 15% of total revenues in 2009. There are no figures yet for 2011, but the company has signed 325 agreements with licensees, and the second-quarter revenue rose 96% in the category of Boys, which includes these action figures. So it is no surprise that a fourth movie is already announced for 2012.

Another film based on Hasbro toys is G.I. Joe, The Rise of Cobra: released in 2009 and distributed by Paramount Pictures, was starred by the characters of this line of toys that coined in 1964 the term "action figure" to sell "dolls" to boys.

The film, directed by Stephen Sommers ( The Mummy) and starring Dennis Quaid ( Innerspace, The Day After Tomorrow ), raised more than $ 300 million at the box office (and another 40 on DVD) and has scheduled a sequel for 2012 , with a poster already shown at Licensing International Expo. In addition, the movie was accompanied by new releases of action figures and a video game from Electronic Arts.

More Projects
Given these figures, Hasbro and Universal have reached an agreement to film movies based on the toy makers boardgames.

For example, Battleship , the movie.

No, seriously: next year Battleship opens with Liam Nesson and singer Rihanna as members of a fleet that has to face an army of unknown origins. The director is Peter Berg ( Collateral, Very Bad Things) and the film has a licensing scheme which will undoubtedly include the relaunch of the game.

But it is not the only example: the contract with Universal includes at least four movies, and some of the following titles are being considered: Cluedo, Magic, Monopoly and Ouija (which would be an action movie, not a horror movie).

Clue was already filmed (not very successfully) in 1985, when the game was owned by Parker Brothers. Currently, the property has licensed products (apparel and accessories, mostly. The new version has been announced for 2013 and will be directed by Gore Verbinski ( Rango and the first three Pirates of the Caribbean).

will probably be made into a film by Ridley Scott ( Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator), with the idea of a Wall Street-style story. The game, recently relaunched, also has an extensive licensing program, which includes footwear, clothing and even lottery tickets, as well as a video game from Electronic Arts.

Hasbro and Universal also announced a 3D movie based on Stretch Armstrong, the gel-filled figure whose limbs can stretch almost at will.

Obviously, Hasbro is not the only company thinking in this kind of movies. Tickets sold and licensing agreements appeal to everybody in both industries. But we will have to wait for the second instalment of this report, to premiere on Thursday.

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