Lead writer for Hasbro Cinematic Universe reveals not one, but two terrible ideas for the film series

Many fans of G.I. Joe and Hasbro properties in general have been quietly getting excited for whatever may be to come with the upcoming Hasbro Cinematic Universe.  The idea of a film “relaunch” bringing together G.I. Joe, M.A.S.K., and several other Hasbro properties just seems like an idea too good to be true and an awesome way to potentially bring in a new generation of Hasbro action figure fans.

But then you read an interview with one of the lead writers, Akiva Goldsman and suddenly you’re not so sure.

Over on the Wall Street Journal (of course the full interview is hidden behind a paywall) apparently Goldsman has revealed some early ideas for this Hasbro Cinematic Universe.  Now, these are just ideas, so perhaps we shouldn’t get too worked up, but hey, we’re toy collectors, like Bruce Banner said, I’m pretty sure we’re always worked up.

Thankfully AgentsofMASK.com pulled over some of the key quotes from WSJ…well, thankfully, because at least we can read them.  Not to thankfully, because honestly, if this is the direction things are going in, I’d probably rather they just didn’t.  Here’s the quote in question:

Among the ideas they came up with were a “G.I. Joe” film set in World War II and a new version of M.A.S.K., the 1980s-era secret-agent series, that doesn’t feature the adult superspies seen in the cartoons but rather a multicultural group of youths in Detroit who come upon “magic technology” similar to what fans may remember. “That’s a story relevant for today, but if you remember the cartoon or the toy, we trigger your memory and you take a look,” Mr. Goldsman said

So, wait.  First you’re going to take the G.I. Joe universe and drop it back 40 years, effectively removing every important character, or making them irrelevant by sending them back to World War II.  Then, instead of a highly trained technology task force, M.A.S.K. is going to be a group of kids who stumble on magic technology?

Sorta like the Power Rangers?  Is that what we’re working with here?  Is that what these ace writers are bringing to the table for the Hasbro Cinematic Universe?

I know… this is one interview, effectively years before an actual movie is getting made, there’s absolutely no reason to get worked up.  A hundred things are thrown at the drawing board throughout the process and not all of them stick.  I truly hope neither of these two ideas stick.

I mean, one would think that Hasbro is bringing their brands together to try and create a more cohesive universe that looks and feels familiar.  Neither of these two concepts feels the least bit familiar, and let’s all hope these were early ideas that were quickly discarded.

Thanks to AgentsofMASK.com for pulling out some of the intel.  If anyone has a subscription to the Wall Street Journal and wants to toss the entire interview my way, I’d love to read the rest.

I think.

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From the “this is news?” department… G.I. Joe 3 delayed, waiting for the Rock

With Byung Hun Lee out doing the interview circuit for his new film The Magnificent Seven, it’s natural that some questions would come up regarding his role in the G.I. Joe movie franchise.  Speaking with LRM, the Korean actor said that:

“…that there’s a possibility to do the third one, but I think they’re waiting for the actors’ schedules. They’re arranging the schedules for the actors, especially Dwayne Johnson.”

While it is nice to hear some talk of the next installment in the G.I. Joe film franchise, I don’t think it surprises anyone that they’re building the next installment around Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.  Already one of the most popular actors on the planet when he filmed G.I. Joe: Retaliation, somehow the onetime wrestler has skyrocketed even further, recently pulling down the honor of the highest paid actor in Hollywood.  If G.I. Joe has the inside track to leverage Johnson’s billing for a third film, they would be painfully stupid not to do so.

At this point that means a bit of a waiting game.  When you’re one of the most popular action heroes of the current moment, a wait list generally forms, and Johnson right now has a hell of a long one.

Now the real question is, how does this play into the whole Hasbro Cinematic Universe discussion?  We’ve heard rumor upon rumor that Hasbro is trying to develop something for 2018, would that something include Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson?  That would feel like a logical step to take, but at this point it remains to be seen whether that would be considered “G.I. Joe 3″ or something else entirely.

For many, many years a G.I. Joe film franchise was considered to be in development hell, and there was much rejoicing when it finally got the green light for 2009.  Two moderately successful films later, it almost feels like we’re back in that in-between area.  Hopefully news comes out in the next 12 – 18 months that changes this perception.

Stay tuned!

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Licensing Expo in Las Vegas has a decidedly Hasbro look

Right now in Las Vegas, the 2016 Licensing Expo has launched, and while there is very little of consequence on display (some individual display with older and vintage items), it’s clear that Hasbro is officially pushing this Cinematic Universe pretty heavily.

Check out the images below from Collider, and thanks to HISSTank.com for the heads up.

G.I. Joe gearing up for (re)ignition?

So much for the quiet news days, eh?

Apparently  Hasbro has just participated in the Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference, and rumor has it they spent quite a while talking about their future entertainment and toy plans with the folks in attendance there.

According to staff with TFW2005, Hasbro actually spoke about G.I. Joe specifically, saying they were going to “reignite” and “reimagine” the G.I. Joe brand through the Cinematic Universe, and that they were even currently developing a new G.I. Joe animated series.

In a way, this should come as no major surprise.  G.I. Joe in its current iteration isn’t exactly a retail behemoth, and with a potential movie franchise on the way, you have to expect that Hasbro is looking to get back to the drawing board and push the franchise forward.  I am fully on board with this plan.

G.I. Joe as it currently stands remains a fantastic and relevant product.  Its design aesthetics, articulation, and overall style have very few peers at brick and mortal retail, in my opinion, the main issues all seem to fall around thematic ones and conceptual ones.  Continually revisiting the same themes from the past 30 years is not an innovative way to carry a brand forward, so really, with a film franchise coming, it only makes sense to jettison some things and start fresh.

By all accounts, that seems to be what Hasbro is prepared to do.

Unlike many of my collecting peers, I don’t feel handcuffed or wedded to three decades of past history, and I really look forward to seeing what new concepts Hasbro might develop to move into the 21st Century.  It will certainly be interesting to see what they do to dovetail a mostly real world military brand with these other interstellar adversaries, but I’m definitely on board to see what happens.

Check out TFW2005 and HissTank.com for some more specific commentary.  I think the next few years could certainly get interesting!

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Hasbro and Paramount confirm blockbuster line up for cinematic writer’s room

Press representatives from Hasbro and Paramount have sent along a press release confirming details of the writing room set up to launch the Hasbro Cinematic Universe! Check out the press release below.

PARAMOUNT PICTURES AND HASBRO TAP AWARD-WINNING GROUP OF WRITERS TO CREATE CROSS-PROPERTY FILM UNIVERSE

WRITERS ROOM LEAD BY OSCAR WINNER AKIVA GOLDSMAN WILL DEVELOP STORIES FOR HASBRO BRANDS G.I. JOE, MICRONAUTS, VISIONARIES, M.A.S.K. AND ROM

HOLLYWOOD, CA (April 21, 2016) – Paramount Pictures and Hasbro, Inc. today unveiled its top talent writers room which will have responsibility for developing Hasbro’s cross-property interconnected onscreen universe featuring the brands G.I. Joe, Micronauts, Visionaries, M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand) and ROM. This group includes some of the most notable creative talent in Hollywood, including Academy Award WinnerAkiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind), who will have responsibility for overseeing the writers room on behalf of Hasbro and Paramount as well as serving as Executive Producer for all of the films. Joining Goldsman will beLindsey Beer (Wizard of Oz, Kingkiller Chronicle), Pulitzer Prize WinnerMichael Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay),Cheo Coker (Luke Cage, Ray Donovan), Joe Robert Cole (Black Panther, People vs. OJ), Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel), Jeff Pinkner (Lost, The Dark Tower), Nicole Riegel (Soldier Girls), Geneva Robertson (Atlantis, Tomb Raider) and Brian K Vaughan (Under the Dome, Lost).

Allspark Pictures, Hasbro’s film label, plans to produce films based on this cross-property universe, with Brian Goldner (Chairman, President and CEO, Hasbro) and Stephen Davis (Executive Vice President and Chief Content Officer, Hasbro) serving as Producers, and Josh Feldman (Co-Head of Storytelling, Hasbro) as Co-Executive Producer. Hasbro will also deploy in the room an unprecedented team of its top artists and designers to assist Goldsman and the writers to visualize this all-new cinematic universe.

“Paramount and Hasbro have partnered on many successful films in the past, including the ‘TRANSFORMERS’ and ‘G.I. JOE,’ franchises,” said Brad Grey, Chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures. “Bringing together a writers room of this caliber is a bold step for our partnership, and one that we believe is critical for building these brands into new, successful franchises for the future.”

“Together with Paramount, we have assembled a team of incredibly talented creative minds and storytellers to continue to help tell the rich history and narrative behind this interconnected cinematic universe, and we are thrilled to be working with Akiva Goldsman again to guide this process,” said Brian Goldner. “We are also excited to partner with Paramount to produce the films, as we’ve had a strong and collaborative partnership since our first Transformers movie in 2007.”

The Paramount and Hasbro partnership is responsible for the worldwide blockbuster success of the “TRANSFORMERS” franchise, which has earned $3.8 billion to-date, and whose films, directed by Michael Bay, are amongst the highest grossing movies of all time; and the “G.I. JOE” franchise, which have earned more than $675 million worldwide.

# # #

About Paramount Pictures Corporation

Paramount Pictures Corporation (PPC), a global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment, is a unit of Viacom (NASDAQ: VIAB, VIA), a leading content company with prominent and respected film, television and digital entertainment brands. Paramount controls a collection of some of the most powerful brands in filmed entertainment, including Paramount Pictures, Paramount Animation, Paramount Television, Paramount Vantage, Paramount Classics, Insurge Pictures, MTV Films, and Nickelodeon Movies. PPC operations also include Paramount Home Media Distribution, Paramount Pictures International, Paramount Licensing Inc., and Paramount Studio Group.

ABOUT HASBRO

Hasbro (NASDAQ: HAS) is a global company committed to Creating the World’s Best Play Experiences, by leveraging its beloved brands, including LITTLEST PET SHOP, MAGIC: THE GATHERING, MONOPOLY, MY LITTLE PONY, NERF, PLAY-DOH and TRANSFORMERS, and premier partner brands. From toys and games, television programming, motion pictures, digital gaming and lifestyle licensing, Hasbro fulfills the fundamental need for play and connection with children and families around the world. The Company’s Hasbro Studios and its film label, ALLSPARK PICTURES, create entertainment brand-driven storytelling across mediums, including television, film, digital and more. Through the company’s commitment to corporate social responsibility, including philanthropy, Hasbro is helping to build a safe and sustainable world and to positively impact the lives of millions of children and families. Learn more at www.hasbro.com, and follow us on Twitter (@Hasbro & @HasbroNews) and Instagram (@Hasbro).

Just like that the Hasbro Cinematic Universe becomes legit

All it took was a single post by the Hollywood Reporter to change a lot of minds and boost a lot of outlooks.

Like anyone else, I was pretty flippant about Hasbro’s supposed commitment to a shared cinematic universe when it was announced back in February.  Instead of feeling like innovation, it just felt like “me, too” especially when you consider the extremely diverse properties they want to try and blend together into this shared universe.

Can anyone blame me, though?  Hasbro’s initial forays into licensed films were mediocre (though Transformers made a buttload of cash), and until they prove to me otherwise, those are what we have to go by.

But, I’ll tell you, when the word came down from Hollywood Reporter about exactly who was filling the chairs in the Hasbro writer’s room, I think a lot of minds were changed, myself included.

Far and away the three biggest names are Michael Chabon, Brian K. Vaughan, and Nicole Perlman.

Chabon has crafted a Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay as well as about 1/3 of Spider-Man 2, which is arguably the best installment in that film’s mired history of mediocrity.

As for Vaughan, he’s just the writer for Saga, an Eisner winning comic often considered as one of the preeminent comic books of our current times, and has also worked on the television series Lost, Under the Dome, and wrote Y, The Last Man, a series which also won Eisner awards.

Along with these two, Nicole Perlman is a part of the team as well, the noted success story from Marvel’s Screenwriting program.  She co-wrote a little film you might have heard about called Guardians of the Galaxy, and is rumored to be currently working on Marvel’s live action Captain Marvel film.

These are three real heavyweights, and a demonstration of some real commitment on Hasbro’s part to craft an effective writing team.  However, there is a wealth of other great writers involved in this project as well.

  • John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (writers of Spider-Man: Homecoming)
  • Geneva Robertson
  • Cheo Coker (showrunner for upcoming Netflix Luke Cage series)
  • Lindsey Beer
  • Joe Robert Cole (writer of The People vs OJ Simpson and Marvel’s upcoming Black Panther film)
  • Jeff Pinkner
  • Nicole Riegel

This news comes as a very pleasant surprise as my initial reaction to this whole shared universe concept was that Hasbro was just trying to be a “hanger on” to this new fad, but an investment in the skillset of the people you see above shows me they are taking this seriously and leaning on some true writers to try and develop this universe.

For G.I. Joe fans and toy fans in general, I think this is a very good news, and this whole story just got a hell of a lot more interesting.  What’s really impressive is a layer of diversity among the writers, with input coming from many different areas, and that will hopefully help to craft a more cohesive, emotional, and successful world for our favorite Hasbro brands.

The first meeting is apparently Monday, along with Hasbro artists who will start drafting some character design as well.  Stay tuned, I sure as hell will be.

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Top 10 G.I. Joe News Stories of 2015

At any given time throughout 2015 it felt like a pretty slow news year for G.I. Joe, but as always, when you stop and look back, suddenly things don’t look quite so small.

Granted G.I. Joe product at retail was pretty much focused to a singular burst in late summer as the 50th Anniversary exploded, then faded, even though we got Convention product and FSS figures earlier in the year. With all that being said, it still feels like there were plenty of “banner moments” in G.I. Joe news for the year that was.

News was breaking right up until the last moment, and I’m actually a bit worried that if I post this prior to December 31st I might end up missing something!

Click the “read more” link below to check out the full list!

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Hasbro to build new connective cinematic universe with G.I. Joe and other brands

On the surface this sounds like a very cool, very fun idea. Underneath the surface, I can’t help but wonder exactly how this is going to work.

The Hollywood Reporter posted an article today revealing a Hasbro and Paramount joint venture to unify the universes of G.I. Joe, MASK, Visionaries, Micronauts, and ROM into one connective cinematic universe.

My first reaction, of course, is JOY. I absolutely love Joe, MASK, and Visionaries, and the mere fact that discussion of these three properties is occurring fills me with immense pleasure.

Of course my next reaction is how the heck is Hasbro going to tell a story featuring a modern military team and Knights of the Magical light and have it make any modicum of sense? Add that to Rom the Space Knight and the Micronauts, and even more confusion comes into play.

It’s funny, I could definitely see MASK and G.I. Joe co-existing on screen in a great way. I could see Visionaries, Rom, and Micronauts even existing in some strange pseudo magic-science cosmic universe. But somehow joining all five together? Very weird, although certainly not without precedence. One might point to Marvel’s success with Guardians of the Galaxy to point out how well a company can synergize more “real world” events with a more cosmic story arc, but Marvel spent half a decade building their universe around their characters. Will Hasbro and Paramount’s vision work the same way?

I guess it will be interesting to find out.

Meanwhile, I’m just ecstatic that there are two more Hasbro properties I’m enthusiastic about potentially getting a stronger focus in the coming years.

Check out the Hollywood Reporter’s article for more details.

(Visionaries image courtesy of the immensely talented stratosmacca on DeviantArt)

Writers Room from Transformers films makes its way to G.I. Joe

Paramount made waves last year when it announced a “writer’s room” with some heavy hitting film writers and developers who were all working together to build a cohesive universe for the continuation of the Transformers series of films with Michael Bay apparently stepping away from the franchise.

Well, according to Nerdist, a similar writer’s room is now forming on other Hasbro properties, including G.I. Joe and Micronauts.

This is an interesting conundrum for fans of G.I. Joe, because while a concerted team of folks working on future film development is certainly proof that Hasbro (and Paramount) are committed to investing in the future of the brand, it most assuredly means the next G.I. Joe film is likely still a few years away.

Perhaps that’s a good thing?  While many fans felt that G.I. Joe: Retaliation was a step in the right direction, it wasn’t especially well-received by the movie going public, and the delay in release certainly didn’t set a good precedent either.  With the recent financial hiccup with Jem and the Holograms, it seems that Hasbro is investing in this writer’s room to hopefully not make the same mistake with this next generation of G.I. Joe films.

Now, just because this writer’s room is happening doesn’t necessarily mean the first two Joe films are being wiped from Hollywood memory.  After all, the writer’s room worked to develop Transformers 5, which is essentially a continuation of the film franchise.

How this all turns out is anyone’s guess, but the mere fact that this writer’s room is focusing on G.I. Joe is potentially good news for fans of the franchise.  It’s proof that G.I. Joe’s  future in Hollywood isn’t yet decided, and in fact steps are being taken to try and put together a powerful film franchise.

The leader of the writer’s room working on these other properties is Akiva Goldsman (the same man who led the Transformers team), though who the actual other members are, at this point, unknown.  If some of the members remain the same, we could get some pretty powerful Hollywood talent focused on G.I. Joe, including Robert Kirkman (Walking Dead), Zak Penn (The Avengers w/ Joss Whedon), Art Marcum & Matt Holloway (Iron Man), and Andrew Barrer & Gabriel Ferrari (Ant Man).  Now it’s clear that these folks won’t likely all join Goldsman on the G.I. Joe film brand, but it’s still a fun thing to consider.

Check out the latest news on the Nerdist article here, and to get an idea of what the Transformers Writer’s Room was trying to accomplish, check out this Deadline article for more info.

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The Full Force Podcast interviews yours truly, plus some actually interesting guests, too…

When good friend Chris asked if I wanted to go on the Full Force podcast to discuss my latest non-G.I. Joe novel, The Fog of Dreams, I was pretty ecstatic.  For all of the work I put into developing the book, I’ve found precious few chances to talk about it, and it was an absolute blast.

I talked about the writing process, character building, and of course couldn’t help but dip into the G.I. Joe universe and also speak about my Kindle Worlds projects.  Thankfully, this episode of The Full Force actually has some credible people on as well, as they speak with Paddy Lennon and Brian Hickey of Total Retaliation fame, as well as caster/customizer extraordinaire RagingSpoon and Nichole.

It’s an action packed episode, so join Chris, Dave Tree, and Eddie Inman for a fantastic packed episode.  Then after you listen, please consider hopping over to Amazon.com and picking up The Fog of Dreams so you can see what the talk is all about.  It’s only $2.99 for Amazon Kindle and has a lot of appeal for G.I. Joe fans.

Take it away Full Force!