Joel Silver Producing Big-Screen ‘Ben 10’

“I tried to do (something similar) with Speed Racer and failed miserably,” says mega-producer Joel Silver of his last foray into family films. “You always learn more from the ones that don’t work than the ones that do work.”

The story is really that Joel Silver has been tapped to produce a tentpole version of the Cartoon Network licensing machine Ben 10, about a ten-year old boy who finds a watch-like piece of alient technology that allows him to take ten different alien forms. It will more of a story as soon as a screenwriter is announced, and the film is greenlit and actors are hired. But for now there are some quotes to get us started, and then we can come back to his admission of Speed Racer as a total failure.

Variety reports that all involved parties see a possible big-screen Ben 10 film as a franchise starter, and one that will be aimed squarely at kids. As the producer said, “I think we have to try something fresh and go at it in a way that stays true to the original material. I have a 5-year-old and a 9-year-old, so it’s somewhere between them.”

This will have an all-new cast, so the previous live-action Ben 10 roster is sadly out of luck. But that’s what happens when Joel Silver and Warner Bros. latch onto the property as something that could be “as big as possible,” according to the trade.

And that quote about Speed Racer tells us more or less exactly what to expect. That movie has problems, but is also wild and adventurous and it tried to do a great many things with the tentpole format, even if it didn’t always succeed. The fact that it was such a failure from a financial point of view has to be a sort of landmark in Joel Silver’s career, and so with Ben 10 I expect we’ll see a very by the book sort of film. Given that it looks like it will be aimed primarily at kids — Warner Bros. own Star Wars, the studio might hope — that isn’t shocking. But you’d like a movie about a kid who can take alien forms to be a little weird and wooly, and that’s something we probably won’t see from Silver now.

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