LOL: How Toys Get Made Into Movies: "Great Story & Great Characters" Required (Except When Not), Says Hasbro

Have you ever wondered how the Transformers movies came to be? Or how about the box office failure Battleship, the two G.I. Joe movies, or the upcoming Jem and the Holograms film adaptation? All of these films started as toys owned by the Hasbro toy company.  Business Insider talked with Hasbro Chief Marketing Officer John Frascotti to find out how these toys become movies and I think some of the details are fascinating and humorous.  Find out how toys get made into movies, after the jump.

First off, how does Hasbro choose which toys they want to develop into a feature film? Hasbro Chief Marketing Officer John Frascotti explains:

"We look for those brands that have story and character at their foundation because inevitably for any type of storytelling format, whether it's a movie, a television show, a digital comic ... it has to have great story and great characters at it's foundation." ... "When you look at brands like Transformers and G.I. Joe they actually have a lot of lore and storytelling behind them already. So, in the case of Transformers, it's a 30-year-old brand and it had a long history of storytelling. Very similar, G.I. Joe who was founded in the '60s. Since then there's been a lot of storytelling and development in terms of comic books and television shows and movies and all types of rich storytelling. In those cases, where there's already a lot of storytelling in place, I think the roadmap is a little more evident."

Okay so I'm not sure how the board game Battleship offered a "great story and great characters at it's foundation." Actually, it offered so little story that Peter Berg decided to use the weak Battleship construct for an alien invasion film even though the board game doesn't even involve aliens. And I'm pretty sure none of the "great characters" in the movie appeared in the board game, either.

Currently nearing release is an action adventure thriller based on the Ouija board — thats right, a board which has no great story, and no characters. It actually is a board game that has almost no rules. (Its more of a creepy party experience.)

Other toys in development to become movies include Tonka, a brand of toy trucks and construction equipment owned by Hasbro. Again, no great story or great characters. They are also developing movies based on the board games Hungry Hungry Hippos, Risk, Candy Land and Monopoly. Hey, at least Clue has some characters. Of course, other properties like Magic The Gathering and Jem and the Holograms at least offer stories and characters, as Frascotti noted.

Remember when Frascotti said that Hasbro toys must have great story and great characters at their foundations to be made into movies? Well, I guess not...

"In cases like Ouija for example, what's essential is that there's a brand beneath it that has a lot of potential for storytelling," adds Frascotti.

Now back to the story, this is where it gets a little interesting –

  • Hasbro pays around $1 million to develop script ideas. Frascotti claims they are "very selective" and that they "do a lot of creative development ourselves before we even have discussions with third parties."
  • If a movie studio wants to make a film, Hasbro gets paid back the developing fee.
  • Hasbro receives 5% of the money a studio makes from the film in theaters.
  • Read the whole article on the Business Insider.