Signs Point To A Magic 8 Ball Movie

It's the stuff movie magic is made of!

And the genius is that you can also use it to make scripting and casting decisions.

Outlook good: toymaking behemoth Mattel has recently, in showbiz parlance, inked a deal with Paramount to make a live action adventure film based on one of its least likely properties: the Magic 8 Ball.

Incredibly, this movie has been mooted since 2007, when The Hollywood Reporter said Mattel was “in talks with Hollywood partners”. It’s been spurred on by the successes of the Transformers franchise (2007, 2009), GI Joe: The Rise Of Cobra (2009) and the truly awful Bratz: The Movie (2007). And they just keep coming: Marvel mastermind Avi Arad (X-Men, Spider-Man, Iron Man) is behind this year’s forthcoming Robosapien: Rebooted, based on the popular robotic toy.

The news has been greeted with much derision online, with blog commenters suggesting potential new films based on Connect 4, Hungry Hungry Hippos and Chia Pets (“slightly more entertaining than watching grass grow”). And CollegeHumor has already optioned Minesweeper.

However, it is not as if we are entering a crappy new age of toys and games being turned into movies. It is a crappy old age. Many of the animated TV shows that Generations X and Y regard with nostalgic affection are long-form commercials produced by Hasbro, Mattel, Nintendo and other toymakers; the toys have always come before the stories. (Toy Story and Jumanji are interesting exceptions: films about toys that are not inspired by a pre-existing product.)

Sunbow Entertainment is responsible for the original Transformers, GI Joe, Jem and the Holograms and My Little Pony cartoons and animated movies. Mattel’s He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe is the only notable toy property animated by Filmation, whose other work includes Fat Albert, The Archie Show, Sabrina The Teenage Witch and various animated versions of popular live-action films and TV series.

Live-action film playtime adaptations aren’t especially new, either. Clue, based on the board game Cluedo, was released in 1985; the Dolph Lundgren Masters Of The Universe was in 1987. A movie was even made of Dungeons & Dragons in 2000, starring the unlikely combo of Jeremy Irons, Thora Birch and Marlon Wayans.

If you just can’t wait to see a movie starring a Magic 8 Ball, track down the obscure 2002 film Interstate 60: Episodes Of  The Road. This metaphysical comedy-drama, starring Gary Oldman, Christopher Lloyd and James Marsden, is about fate, chance and making choices. A young would-be artist (Marsden) is given a Magic 8 Ball to help him deliver a package on the fictitious American highway of the title.

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