Home / Trending / A guide to upcoming movies based on toys, board games and other plotless properties

A guide to upcoming movies based on toys, board games and other plotless properties


A few years in the past, the speculation of constructing big-budget theatrical movies based on merchandise like board games, toys and mobile phone apps may have appeared laughable, Michael Bay’s multibillion-dollar Transformers movies however. Those, in any case, have had many years’ price of plotlines to draw from — a couple of TV collection, movies, comedian books, and many others. — and integrated recognizable characters like Optimus Prime and Megatron.

Unlike, say, “Battleship.” Remember that one? Universal’s 2012 board sport film with its made-from-scratch plot about an alien invasion within the Pacific wound up being some of the 12 months’s largest flops, incomes again simply $65 million locally on a $209 million finances, in accordance to Box Office Mojo.

But then “The Lego Movie” took place. Now, unexpectedly, what The New York Times name “non-narrative IPs” (a complicated time period for highbrow properties, like many board games, that don’t have integrated tales) have develop into, as soon as once more, a viable possibility for film studios drawn by means of the promise of acquainted manufacturers minus all of the pesky stuff like pre-existing plotlines and loved characters that may make the variation procedure tough. (Just ask DC.)

In other phrases, what non-narrative IPs be offering is all of the advantages of extra conventional supply subject matter like books and comics however with a far higher stage of freedom to craft the film in accordance to the studio’s calls for.

And if “The Lego Movie” gave the impression of a fluke 3 years in the past when it first hit theaters, its two spinoffs — “The Lego Batman Movie” and “The Lego Ninjago Movie” — turn out another way.

In the period in-between, other releases based on non-narrative IPs, together with two Ouija movies, “The Angry Birds Movie” and this summer time’s “The Emoji Movie” have all had some extent of good fortune, and now, following on the heels of “The Lego Ninjago Movie” final month, this week will see some other toy adaptation, “My Little Pony: The Movie,” land in theaters.

This is all just the beginning of what is also the following main pattern in Hollywood — a pattern the place tale unequivocally takes 2d position to emblem familiarity. With that during thoughts, right here’s a take a look at one of the most other toys, board games and apps being advanced into movies at this time and simply how most probably they’re to occur.


Mattel’s fashionable line of dolls has spawned numerous straight-to-video animated movies in addition to video games, books and other types of media through the years. Barbie and Ken have additionally gave the impression as characters in Pixar’s Toy Story collection, so that they’re now not strangers to Hollywood. Now, although, the unrealistically proportioned blonde is about to characteristic in her very personal live-action film.

Originally advanced with Amy Schumer (“Trainwreck”) set to megastar, the tale is alleged to be offering a “contemporary spin on beauty, feminism and identity,” in accordance to The Hollywood Reporter, following a resident of Barbieland who’s kicked out for now not being easiest like everybody else. She then finishes up in the true global and learns to rejoice her variations.

Current standing: In May, Variety reported that Schumer had dropped out of the challenge due to scheduling conflicts. Two months later, it was once reported that Oscar winner Anne Hathaway was once in talks to take over and that rising-star filmmaker Alethea Jones (“Fun Mom Dinner”) was once being eyed to direct. The best hang-up combating Hathaway from signing on formally is, like Schumer, conceivable scheduling conflicts.

Verdict: The manufacturing turns out dead-set on hitting a June 29, 2018, unlock date — sufficient in order that manufacturers may let now not one, however two bankable actresses stroll clear of the challenge. In other phrases, without or with Hathaway, this one seems love it’s going to occur.

Candy Land

Initially described as a “very human” tale about other folks getting sucked right into a board sport, someplace alongside the best way, it took a flip for the unusual. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly in 2011, author Glenn Berger (“Kung Fu Panda”) known as the challenge “‘Lord of the Rings,’ but set in a world of candy.” He went on to say, “We don’t see it as a movie based on a board game, although it has characters from that world and takes the idea of people finding themselves in a world that happens to be made entirely of candy where there are huge battles going on. We are going for real comedy, real action and real emotions at stake.”

In 2012, on the other hand, “Candy Land” jumped studios from Universal to Columbia, and Adam Sandler’s manufacturing corporate Happy Madison started growing a contemporary take on the idea that as a starring car for the SNL alum.

Current standing: No new trends had been introduced since 2014 when Hasbro was once hit with a lawsuit alleging that the rights to explicit characters from the Candy Land sport belonged to some other corporate, in accordance to The Hollywood Reporter.

Verdict: If this one does finally end up taking place, Sandler would possibly or would possibly not nonetheless be concerned


There’s already been one live-action movie adaptation of this Parker Bros. board sport, a 1985 comedy starring the inimitable Tim Curry and written by means of John Landis (“An American Werewolf in London”). Although that film gained combined evaluations when it was once first launched and flopped on the field administrative center, during the last 30-plus years, it has advanced a robust cult following.

A new version to be produced by means of Fox and Hasbro,which now owns Parker Bros., was once introduced simply final 12 months.

Current standing: The most up-to-date details about this challenge got here final 12 months as smartly when The Tracking Board broke the inside track on some huge adjustments Fox had in thoughts for its reboot, together with ditching the board sport’s iconic mansion atmosphere in prefer of a “worldwide mystery with action-adventure elements” with plans to arrange a franchise with global attraction. So, suppose Clue meets some of the later Fast and the Furious movies.

Verdict: As mainly an Agatha Christie-style whodunit in board sport shape, Clue will have to be some of the extra possible properties on this record. It additionally has characters (within the loosest sense of the phrase, anyway). Whether it occurs, although — or a minimum of the shape it takes when it does occur — may hinge on reactions to Kenneth Branagh’s upcoming adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel “Murder on the Orient Express,” which comes out in November.

In the period in-between, a Clue comic book series introduced in June. Fans of the 1985 film will respect the truth that, just like the film, it options 3 other endings.

‘Fruit Ninja’

With greater than one thousand million downloads, it was once just a topic of time ahead of Halfbrick Studios’ mobile phone app a couple of fruit-slicing practitioner of ninjutsu would get the large display remedy a l. a. “Angry Birds.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, that point may well be very quickly, it seems.

Current standing: A July New York Times article titled “How to Make a Movie Out of Anything — Even a Mindless Phone Game” detailed the method that led to “Fruit Ninja” being bought final 12 months by means of New Line Cinema. This integrated a peek at a number of proposed tales, together with the one who, with a bit of luck, will make it to theaters: a meteor-induced zombie virus infects fruit that move looking for human hosts. The best factor that may prevent them? A secret society of ninjas whose recruits are selected based on its mastery of the “Fruit Ninja” mobile phone sport.

According to Halfbrick’s founder Shainiel Deo, talking to Brisbane’s The Courier Mail simply final week, the “Fruit Ninja” film continues to be “in the draft stage at the moment; once that’s all approved it will move to the next stage of production.”

Verdict: “The Angry Birds Movie” raked in simply shy of $350 million international final 12 months, so making a film out of “Fruit Ninja” simply turns out like excellent industry at this level.

Dungeons & Dragons

Just like with “Clue,” a brand new model of “Dungeons & Dragons” lately in building at Warner Bros. received’t be the primary model of the valuables to make it to the large display. The tabletop role-playing sensation in the beginning created by means of Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson in 1974 was once in the past tailored in 2000. Unlike “Clue,” on the other hand, target market critiques have now not softened towards that film since its unique unlock. In 2010, Empire named it the 39th worst film ever made.

The new model will, confidently, keep away from one of the most errors the former movie made.

Current standing: In June of final 12 months, it was once introduced that “Divergent” and “Baby Driver” megastar Ansel Elgort was once in negotiations to megastar with Rob Letterman (“Goosebumps”) directing and a script by means of David Leslie Johnson (“Wrath of the Titans”).

More just lately nonetheless, a brand new pair of writers hopped onboard the challenge: Lindsey Beer, who additionally wrote the “Barbie” script, and Geneva Dworet-Robertson, whose filmography to this point options most commonly upcoming tentpoles like “Tomb Raider” and “Captain Marvel.”

If none of them are ready to crack it, although, actor/severe D&D fanatic Joe Manganiello (“Magic Mike”) has it seems that written his personal script that he’s actively making an attempt to get made.

Verdict: A 12 months in the past, it looked like a secure guess that by means of now there could be a complete inventive crew, a solid and a unlock date in position for this film — some criminal hiccups however. But that hasn’t took place. Sooner or later, although, it’s a sexy secure guess that “Dungeons & Dragons” will come in combination, particularly as the sport has discovered renewed recognition thank you to Netflix’s “Stranger Things.” Maybe Warner Bros. is simply looking ahead to “Game of Thrones” to finish so it may possibly take over as the one big-budget fable racket on the town. Who is aware of?

Hot Wheels

A Hot Wheels movie has been in the works since 2003, although so far it hasn’t made it very far in the development process. “Charlie’s Angels” director McG was initially tapped to direct but dropped out a few years later.

In 2013, longtime stunt coordinator/second unit director Simon Crane took over, this time with a script by means of, of all other folks, two-time Oscar nominee Paul Attanasio (“Quiz Show,” “Donnie Brasco”).

Then, final 12 months, a 3rd director got here onboard when Justin Lin, who, along side “Star Trek Beyond,” directed 4 of the Fast and the Furious movies, signed on.

Current standing: No new main points have emerged since final 12 months. In truth, as of at this time, it’s now not even recognized if Lin’s take on “Hot Wheels” could be stay motion or animation. But Lin did be offering a small replace on the challenge all through the Television Critics Association press excursion in August, telling IGN, “I now have an Eight-year-old who performs with Hot Wheels at all times. To me, it is superb the healing and additionally the therapeutic properties of creativeness. Those are the topics I actually need to discover via that as a result of I’ve my very own dating with Hot Wheels when I used to be a child and now I am seeing it with my child.”

Verdict: Lin has his plate complete with some other of other tasks, each as director and manufacturer, together with the long-awaited “Space Jam” sequel with LeBron James. Without any actual motion on “Hot Wheels” within the final 12 months — now not even a brand new script remedy — don’t be expecting this one in theaters anytime quickly, if ever.

Hungry Hungry Hippos

When “Battleship” was once launched again in 2012, the arena replied in one of the simplest ways conceivable by means of freeing a host of faux film trailers and posters for other board games, together with a number of for Hasbro’s Hungry Hungry Hippos.

It seems, although, that Hungry Hungry Hippos was once if truth be told in building, in accordance to Vulture. Even after Hasbro’s handle Universal fell aside, it was once introduced that manufacturing corporate Emmett/Furla had snatched up the rights to the tabletop sport with plans to flip it into an animated child’s film (now not a “Jaws”-style horror film or a gangster film like one of the most shaggy dog story trailers promised).

Current standing: Since 2012, no new data has surfaced.

Verdict: For now, anyway, this adaptation seems love it’s lifeless within the water.


In 2015, Deadline reported that Paul Feig, the director in the back of female-driven comedies like “Bridesmaids,” “Spy” and Sony’s divisive all-girl “Ghostbusters” reboot, were approached about doing for the Play-Doh emblem what writing-directing duo Chris Miller and Phil Lord (“21 Jump Street”) had finished for Lego.

Feig later showed his involvement, explaining his pastime to Collider: “At first I was like, ‘How do you make a Play-Doh movie?’ and then I was like, ‘Wait, it’s colored clay. It’s Claymation!’”

Feig also referred to as the tale he and author Jason Micallef (TV’s “Heathers” adaptation) had been growing as a “big movie, big in scope.”

Current standing: Feig took successful with the general public backlash to “Ghostbusters” and its disappointing take on the field administrative center, which successfully put the kibosh on Sony’s plans for a Marvel-style Ghostbusters universe.

Since then, there haven’t been any new trends on the Play-Doh entrance, and Feig has became his consideration to other tasks, specifically a sequel to his Sandra Bullock/Melissa McCarthy friend comedy, “The Heat,” and a homicide thriller known as “A Simple Favor” with Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively.

Verdict: It’s now not having a look all that promising — a minimum of, now not with Feig nonetheless connected.


One of the first actual board game-to-movie variations that was once introduced, this one has long gone via some head-scratching iterations on its manner to being made into a film, beginning with a model that was once, at one level, set to be directed by means of mythical filmmaker Ridley Scott (“Alien,” “Gladiator,” “The Martian”). This model would have informed an Alice in Wonderland-style tale about an ordinary schmoe getting sucked into the arena of the sport and having to fight the evil Parker Bros. in a high-stakes Monopoly fit. Except as an alternative of the early 20th-century aesthetic of monocles and Rolls Royces enthusiasts of the sport would have expected, the sport global on this film would had been a futuristic sci-fi atmosphere “along the lines of (Scott’s 1982 movie) ‘Blade Runner,’” in accordance to The Hollywood Reporter.

Somewhere alongside the best way, although, that idea developed into what Scott described as an ‘80s-style comedy within the vein of “Trading Places,” in accordance to MTV, focusing on a Donald Trump-esque actual property rich person combating it out along with his competitors. Basically, 1987’s “Wall Street” as a comedy. “Greed becomes, hopefully, hysterically funny,” Scott put it to MTV, most likely by accident echoing Michael Douglas’ well-known line from “Wall Street.”

Current standing: Most just lately, “The Truman Show” and “Gattaca” author Andrew Niccol was once introduced because the author on a new script. Despite Niccol’s lengthy record of sci-fi creds, this model would have fortunately have shyed away from the “Blade Runner” comparisons in prefer of one thing that sounded an terrible lot just like the ’80s Amblin vintage “The Goonies.”

At the time, it was once promised solid and director could be introduced by means of February of that 12 months. That was once in January of 2015. No announcement was once ever made. Since then, issues have long gone quiet.

Verdict: As recognizable because the Monopoly board sport is, a film turns out nearly inevitable. But after goodbye with none new trends, don’t be shocked if it will get utterly overhauled (once more) ahead of it if truth be told sees the sunshine of day.

(Currently, there may be a movie in regards to the not-so-happy backstory to the introduction of the board sport within the works based on a e-book titled “The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favourite Board Game,” in accordance to The Guardian. This film, unsurprisingly, does now not have Hasbro’s backing.)


Given Playmobil’s long-standing rivalry with Lego, it’s best herbal that the German toy line would go over into characteristic animation, too, after having already dabbled in straight-to-video releases, TV collection and video games.

Announced in 2014, the upcoming animated flick, titled “Playmobil: Robbers, Thieves & Rebels,” is being produced by means of the crew in the back of Netflix’s “The Little Prince.”

Current standing: Last 12 months, the challenge scored a director in Lino Di Salvo, a former Disney animator who labored as head of animation on “Frozen” in addition to animation manager on “Tangled” and “Bolt.”

“I’m delighted on the prospect of growing the Playmobil movie,” he informed Variety. “As a father and a filmmaker, to create a movie about your son’s favourite toy, what else do you need?”

Verdict: It’s nonetheless a long way off with a scheduled unlock date of Jan. 18, 2019, however each indication is that issues are nonetheless shifting ahead.


Taking a web page from the “Blade Runner”-inspired Monopoly script, it was once introduced final 12 months that plans are underway to flip the 1984 online game about falling geometric shapes right into a trilogy of futuristic sci-fi thrillers.

Producer Larry Kassanoff informed Empire this choice was once made due totally to the calls for of the “Tetris” tale. “This isn’t us splitting the last one of our eight movies in two to wring blood out of the stone. It’s just a big story.”

What that tale shall be, although, stays a thriller. “I guarantee you, it’s not what you think,” Kassanoff stated, however no matter it’s, the movies shall be aiming for international attraction with a solid of Chinese and American actors.

Kassanoff additionally published that the deliberate three-part sci-fi mystery originated along with his musings on “the theme of creating order out of chaos.” So a philosophical sci-fi mystery?

Current standing: As of final 12 months, the primary movie within the proposed trilogy had secured an $80 million finances, in accordance to Geek.com.

In other phrases…

Verdict: Although it doesn’t have a solid or director but, securing financing is a large step, so sure, this may legitimately occur.

(And for somebody curious what it will appear to be, there’s a faux, fan-made trailer for a sci-fi “Tetris” film that was once made 4 years ahead of the inside track was actual.)

Jeff Peterson studied humanities and historical past at Brigham Young University. He lately lives in Richmond, Virginia.


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