Universal Drops Hasbro’s Stretch Armstrong Film, Taylor Lautner Out As Star, Relativity Picks Up For April 2014 Release

BREAKING… UPDATE… Another movie in Hasbro’s groundbreaking deal with Universal Pictures bites the dust. So has another Taylor Lautner project. If you recall, Universal was planning a slate of films based on Hasbro board games beginning with Battleship. Then, the studio put Ouija, Clue, Monopoly and Magic, The Gathering in turnaround. Now, it’s Stretch Armstrong, which Universal at first was determined to make but which now has been dropped and picked up by Relativity Media. The Universal version had Rob Letterman attached to direct and Taylor Lautner attached to star in a whopper of a deal to play the title character. But Deadline has learned that the Twilight Saga star is no longer attached. The Tay-Tay camp is claiming “it was our choice” to pull out of the film, but in fact a project insider told Deadline months ago right after Lautner’s Lionsgate film Abduction bombed that the studio was rethinking the project with Lautner as star but that Hasbro would make the final decision on the status of the project. Looks like that has happened. The Relativity release below makes no mention of Letterman either:

(Beverly Hills, Calif.) January 30, 2012 –Relativity Media has partnered with global branded play company Hasbro, Inc. [NASDAQ-HAS] to develop and produce a live-action tent-pole film based on Stretch Armstrong, the iconic action hero figure launched in the 1970s, it was announced today by Relativity’s Co-President, Tucker Tooley and Hasbro’s President and CEO, Brian Goldner.

Relativity will be the domestic distributor and will release the film internationally through its network of foreign output partners. The film is targeted for an April 11, 2014 release date.

The film will be produced by Relativity’s CEO, Ryan Kavanaugh (The Fighter), Hasbro’s Goldner (Transformers) and Bennett Schneir, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Motion Pictures (Battleship). Tooley (Immortals) will serve as executive producer.

Hasbro has become an entertainment powerhouse by creating hit movies and television shows from its rich portfolio of world class brands. Since 2007, Hasbro’s Transformers and G.I. Joe franchises have grossed nearly $3 billion at the worldwide box office. 2012 is shaping up to be another stellar year for Hasbro with its partners Universal Pictures releasing Battleship in April and Paramount Pictures releasing G.I. Joe: Retaliation in June. In television, Hasbro Studios produces shows like Transformers Prime and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic that can be seen on the HUB television network in the U.S. and in more than 140 countries globally.

“We are absolutely thrilled to partner with Hasbro, a company whose global reach and ability to innovate has made them immensely successful in the arena of brand re-imagination– as evidenced by their legacy of creating such franchises as Transformers and G.I. Joe,” said Tooley, “We look forward to bringing Stretch Armstrong to audiences worldwide.”

“Stretch Armstrong is a great example of Hasbro’s rich portfolio of intellectual properties that we are continuing to develop globally,” said Goldner, “We are excited to partner with Relativity on this movie as they are a growing and innovative studio.”

Stretch Armstrong is the classic action hero figure first launched by Hasbro in 1976 and re-launched in the 90’s, sold successfully throughout North America and in markets across the world. The original Stretch’s unique design broke free of traditional action figures, as he could be stretched over and over and always returned back to his original size. The nostalgic toy is considered to be rare and collectible to this day.

Relativity recently released Oscar®-winner Steven Soderbergh’s dynamic action-thriller Haywire in theatres. Looking ahead, Relativity will release the the heart-pounding Navy SEAL action-thriller Act of Valor (in theatres February 24, 2012) and magical adventure comedy Mirror Mirror (in theatres March 30, 2012), starring Oscar®-winner Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Nathan Lane, and Armie Hammer. The studio just wrapped production on the comedy 21 and Over and is currently in pre-production on Nicholas Sparks’ gripping love story Safe Haven and the international espionage thriller Hunter Killer.

Comments (73)

  • I think “Battleship” is going to surprise people and become a big global hit. “GI Joe 2″ is going to be a big hit too. There is still significant value in these pre-awareness properties with general audiences. Say what you will about Hollywood’s lack of creativity, but from a business perspective, movies based on pre-awareness properties have a big leg up. In this industry, there has always been commercial filmmaking, as well as artistic filmmaking. Sometimes the two types cross over (Dark Knight, Inception, etc), but the film business (from its very beginning) has always had both in equal parts. With all that said, I have no interest in seeing movies like “Mirror Mirror” (which looks like complete shit) but there is definitely a commercial audience out there who will go see them.

    Comment by Yes — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 9:45am PST  
    • re: battleship, sadly I agree. It’s most likely going to be a big hit.

      Comment by jkl — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 10:27am PST  
      • I agree. I saw the next “Battleship” trailer, and it looks entertaining in a “Mission Impossible” kind of way. Liam Neeson was a smart casting choice, even though he’s clearly not in much of the movie.

        How did that guy become a big movie star?? I’m a big fan, but it still baffles me.

        Comment by Have to agree — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 10:37am PST  
        • Liam became a star when he did a little movie called “Schindler’s List”….

          Comment by geme — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 10:55am PST  
          • Husbands and Wives

            Comment by Woody Allen — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 12:29pm PST  
          • Yes, but it’s still weird he’s the go to action star right now.

            Comment by dee123 — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 4:37pm PST  
        • You’re a big fan but you’re baffled how he became a movie star? Really??? Please tell me you don’t live in LA County. I hate the thought of someone like you driving on the same streets as me. At least tell me you don’t drive in Santa Monica.

          Comment by Joe in SM — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 12:17pm PST  
        • I agree it is baffling that Neeson has become a huge action movie star, the Charles Bronson of today. I think it primarily started with him playing a Jedi in Phantom Menace. Not a good role and not a good film, but seen numerous times by many kids who are now young adults. His acting talent from his acclaimed dramatic roles in the 90s led to him being cast in Gangs of NY and Kingdom of Heaven playing strong, swashbuckling, tough characters, culminating in him being cast in Batman Begins as the samurai/ninja master and finally he goes full Chuck Norris in the smash action hit Taken. But the funny thing is that Neeson had always been willing to do those kind of roles, back in the start of his career he was in Excalibur, Krull, Chuck Norris’ The Delta Force, and the Dirty Harry sequel The Dead Pool. Plus in the 90s he did a Braveheart type film with a lot of sword-fighting, called Rob Roy, that probably had a lot to do with him being cast by Lucas as a Jedi.

          Comment by Andrew — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 4:08pm PST  
          • The reason people like Liam Neeson doing action? Because he’s a real man. Unlike the plucked girly boys like Taylor Lautner, Matt Damon etc that usually populate action movies these days. Women (and other men) want to see men onscreen. Not girly boys (unless you’re one of the many pedo casting directors in Hollywood that is).

            Comment by Dorothy Palmer — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 7:38pm PST  
        • No pun intended, but TAKEN took Neeson to a whole ‘nother level, and showed Hollywood the man could be an action star.

          Comment by Fucking Studio Plant — Tuesday January 31, 2012 @ 9:29pm PST  
    • Has the release date for Battleship been moved to April? When did that happen?

      Comment by Battle Weary — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 12:26pm PST  
  • I feel bad for the kid Lautner.

    Comment by Zach — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 10:08am PST  
    • You feel bad for a kid who starred in a successful franchise and has done movies on his own? I feel bad for the unknown actors out there just waiting, while the same people get films time and time again. Lautner will be fine.

      Comment by BRETT — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 10:17am PST  
      • well said.

        Comment by gp — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 10:29am PST  
      • Lautner is not yet among those who get cast for everything. He’s still trying to prove himself and Abduction didn’t help. And, remember, he was thisclose from getting fired from the Twilight sequels altogether. It hasn’t exactly been served on a silver platter for him.

        Talented or not, I hope he’s saving his Twilight money.

        Comment by Michael — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 10:42am PST  
        • Taylor Lautner is just another Josh Hartnett. Just another pretty face the suits will push until the public come around to the idea this guy is actually just that… a pretty face. So expect a half of dozen or so more terribly acted movies by Lautner before we say goodbye forever. At least his movies will always have a great supporting cast ;)

          Battleship looks awful. If hasbro is going to whore out their properties then at least think long term and not short term. Transformers was soooo successful cause the first movie was pretty damn good, much better than most of us thought it would be. GI joe sucked but the sequel looks like Paramount realized their mistake from the first one and actually looks pretty good.

          Comment by baby jesus — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 12:22pm PST  
          • A “pretty face”??? Seriously? The first transformers was “pretty damn good”? Wow. Low standards triumph.

            Comment by CMR — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 1:43pm PST  
          • GI Joe was a lot better than Transformers. Transformers action was hard to follow, it looked like piles of junk rolling down a hill, the robots were fairly indistinguishable. The action in GI Joe was better because they had a better cast playing characters with more personality. Shya Thebeef is a terrible action star and he can’t make the lame broad comedy of Transformers work. Obviously I realize that neither film was particularly great, but for what they were trying to be, GI Joe was the better film.

            Comment by andrew — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 3:00pm PST  
        • You believed that? Pretty sure the “Taylor Lautner not returning to Twilight” saga was all PR.

          Comment by BRETT — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 9:32pm PST  
          • They didn’t even audition anyone else for the role of Jacob. So yes, his job was never really in danger. With the kind of rushed schedule they were on (the reason Hardwicke took a hike) and moving the entire production up to Vancouver, they were never going to take the time to recast a lead role.

            Comment by carrie — Tuesday January 31, 2012 @ 5:36am PST  
          • PR that helped who? They’d already fired Catherine Hardwicke and Lautner was a nobody. Other actors were considered for his role before Weitz decided to keep him.

            Comment by Michael — Tuesday January 31, 2012 @ 6:00am PST  
    • He has eight figures in the bank, earned by total luck and zero discernible talent. I’d reserve such feelings for someone else.

      Comment by alan — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 10:29am PST  
    • No need to feel bad. That’s like feeling bad for someone who won the lottery. Everyone that works in hollywood knows that the whole thing with him and Twilight was a big fluke. He was never destined to become a $10 million actor – and yet he found himself on that perch. Team TL has been trying to capitalize on that fluke – but he can’t act and has no appeal outside of taking his shirt off. He’s a little guy who was destined to become one those stunt actors doing the Waterworld show at Universal theme park, yet found himself being billed as the next Tom Cruise.

      He’ll be fine, he’s made lots of money – but winning the lottery twice? I think not.

      Comment by Markham — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 10:42am PST  
      • Couldn’t agree more. It was a total fluke that he landed Twilight. Fans aren’t flocking to see TAYLOR, they are flocking to see their favorite book character JACOB. The kid cannot act at all. I hope he does well in whatever profession it is he chooses down the road – he’s very talented in martial arts, etc, but I hope it’s not acting that he continues with.

        Comment by Cali — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 3:12pm PST  
    • Don’t feel bad for him, instead chastize the studio execs who pounced on him b4 he had the talent to carry a film. They’re the villains here.

      Comment by Joe B. — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 10:53am PST  
      • Call the Waambulance.

        Comment by Bitch, please — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 9:34pm PST  
    • He was/is greedy, asking ten million per pic, even for an indie (per Hollywood Reporter). He lined up and dropped out of deals and now apparently has nothing. The supposed Gus Van Sant deal looks like hot air his camp used to distract from Abduction bombing.

      Joe Roth must be having a huge laugh over this. Lautner should have made Max Steel after all.

      Comment by C — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 5:22pm PST  
  • I still think a dark, gritty version of Clue would be awesome. The rest of these don’t interest me in the slightest.

    Comment by BRETT — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 10:16am PST  
    • YES! Clue would be amazing.

      Comment by Steve — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 10:58am PST  
      • You’ve seen the Hub show?

        Comment by ILDC — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 11:20am PST  
    • I really hope this becomes a priority for Gore. It really is ripe for an inventive re-imagining.

      Comment by TM — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 11:21am PST  
    • At first I assumed you were kidding when you said a “dark gritty version of Clue.” Then I realized you were serious. Perhaps we can also hope for Oliver Stone or Michael Moore to direct Monopoly, or Terence Malick to direct LIFE, or Rob Zombie’s Twister. Operation directed by Eli Roth.

      Comment by Andrew — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 3:30pm PST  
      • I would definitely pay to see “Operation” directed by Eli Roth. Rob Zombie’s “Twister,” too, for that matter. I’d also enjoy either Stone or Moore’s lefty take on the entirely horrible gameplay concept of Monopoly, wherein children are taught that becoming Mitt Romney is the greatest thing one can aspire to, no matter how many lives are shattered in the process. I’ve already SEEN Terrence Malic’s “Life” (it’s called The Tree of Life).

        I think you were trying to be ironic, but you just named perfectly appropriate directors for all the games you mentioned. Sarcasm Fail.

        Comment by Aggregator — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 3:45pm PST  
        • LOL, you’re taking those seriously. You think Terence Malick would direct a movie derived from a board game. Keep waiting, it will happen right as soon as David Lynch directs My Little Pony. Or that Hasbro would want their family franchises that are all destined for PG ratings directed by the others. ” ..perfectly appropriate directors” in what alternate universe? The punchline you missed, is that dark, NC17/R rated adult takes on kiddie franchises defeat the whole reason those toy franchise family films exist.

          Comment by Andrew — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 4:19pm PST  
  • Not the best news for Taylor Lautner. There must be a way for a studio to tap into his Twilight “value” but it needs to be in a broad-audience commercial movie that plays to his strengths. Probably something with a big idea that doesn’t require any real acting… The post-Twilight choices he’s made so far have been horrendous. He was funny on SNL — maybe a broad comedy?

    Comment by TL — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 10:26am PST  
    • Lautner should do a Terminator-type role — speak little, look great, and save the day.

      Comment by XYZ — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 10:54am PST  
  • I totally agree. If I was a studio exec, I would sleep much better knowing I had a property or a toy franchise to brand my film. Look at the films from 30, 40, 50 years ago. Disney animated films were mostly based on fairy tale properties, most live-action movies were based on books, plays, existing characters. Nothing has really changed. I think there can be a mix of new ideas too (although there’s really no such thing as an “original” idea from a story/structural perspective – just the way it’s re-packaged). If I was betting my own money, I’d choose a property over an unknown concept.

    Comment by Agree — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 10:32am PST  
    • Very true. It’s easy for people to throw stones anonymously in a comments board, but I would do the same thing if my ass was on the line. Whether we writers like it or not, these things are smart business choices.

      I never thought about that before re: Disney and old films.

      Comment by Good point — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 10:56am PST  
    • Board games aren’t stories. Stretch Armstrong isn’t a character, he is silly putty. He is as much a dramatic property as Slinky is. You can’t compare fairy tales that are rich with human archetypes to a rubik’s cube.

      Comment by Andrew — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 5:11pm PST  
      • I think there’s much more creativity and artistic invention involved in making a movie based on a simple concept or a character like a toy property — than making a movie based on a dramatic property. Every “commercial” movie needs a high concept to start with, but everything beyond that simple idea is a writer/producer/director’s imagination. I actually think that’s a more impressive achievement than adapting an existing novel/play, etc.

        Comment by Point no one is mentioning — Tuesday January 31, 2012 @ 9:22am PST  
  • Spielberg’s “Lincoln Logs” is likely to be a big hit and turn this whole Hasbro thing around.

    Comment by Just Me — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 10:36am PST  
    • HAAAAAAAAAA!!!! Post of the week.

      Comment by TM — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 11:21am PST  
  • Coming soon, “Boggle: The Movie.” Starring Taylor Lautner as the G!

    Comment by Jacob — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 10:38am PST  
  • Taylor Lautner would be perfect in the sequel to ‘The Artist.’

    Comment by JettaJameson — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 10:43am PST  
  • Wow. I am giddy with joy to see a studio actually back away from what surely have been a DUMB movie. With a pug-faced, wooden star. Who had his chance and couldn’t draw. Now it’s time to give someone new a chance. Maybe someone who has the screen persona of a real alpha male. And some charisma, too.

    My parents got Harrison Ford and Steve McQueen and Paul Newman. I get Taylor Lautner and Channing Tatum.

    Stretch Armstrong is a Z-list property. It has zero currency today. No one cares about it.

    Kinda like John Carter. Of Mars. Who can take that trailer seriously?

    Some titles are AAA properties. Others, not so much.

    Maybe this is a sign that major studios are learning to tell which are which.

    And no, I do not work in this industry. Not for a studio. Not a writer. Nothing of the sort. I just like good movies, be they commercial or not.

    Comment by hardyharhar! — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 10:45am PST  
    • I love how the geniuses decide to rename “John Carter of Mars” and call it instead “John Carter” – believing that it would be more appealing to a wider audience. Yeah, sure. Great idea. I think they should have just gone a step further and called it “John”, which I think appeals to even MORE people.

      Comment by Just Me — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 11:19am PST  
      • I’m fairly certain the studio removed the ‘From Mars’ from the title after the horrible box office on ‘Mars Needs Moms’.

        Comment by justsayin — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 4:00pm PST  
  • Don’t see how this is a real loss for Lautner — he’ll be just fine. Glad to see this project out of Universal’s hands and in someone else’s.

    Comment by Anonymous — Monday January 30, 2012 @ 10:57am PST  
  |  More Comments

Sorry, comments are closed for this article.