From the Tuesday, August 11, 2009 edition of The Hollywood Reporter:
Universal Studios has ticket to ride on “My Little Pony”
“GI Joe” director Sommers to direct 2011 tentpole based on childhood toy with no noticeable storyline
by Andrew Foley
“2011 is going to be a great year for fans of gritty, action-packed films based on childrens toys from the ‘90s!” So declared Universal Pictures representative Myron Dickens this morning at the news conference to announce his studio’s acquisition of Hasbro’s “My Little Pony”.
Said Dickens, “Any toy property people have fond memories, hell, any memories of at all, they’re like gold-wrapped cocaine right now, everyone wants some. Toss in a few explosions, a little grit and you could do a 50 mill opening weekend with a ‘Slinky’.” He continued, “Hey, who owns the rights to Slinky…?”
Though Universal, Paramount, and Sony bid approximately the same amount for “My Little Pony”, only Universal was willing to commit to a three-picture deal with “Pony” licenseholder Hasbro Toys. “My Little Pony: Dark Horse Rising” is tentatively scheduled for release in July 2011.
While Hasbro-based films have been on a hot streak recently with the success of the “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” and “GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra”, “My Little Pony”, a girls toy with no obvious narrative hook, may seem an unlikely prospect to receive tentpole movie treatment. And, admitted Dickens, that was exactly how Hollywood saw the property last Wednesday. But the success of “Joe” this weekend changed things, setting off a heated bidding war for what many see as the absolute last available ‘90s toy property with any exploitable name recognition.
The critically reviled “Rise of Cobra” grossed more than $55m in North America, and more than $40m internationally in its debut weekend, so Universal’s announcement that “Joe” helmer Stephen Sommers was on-board for a “noirish, Dark Knight-esque take” on “My Little Pony” might also be considered a coup by anyone who hasn’t actually seen “GI Joe” or “Van Helsing”.
Also present at this morning’s press conference was Sommers’ agent, Len Devlin. Devlin said he’d personally delivered word of both “GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra”’s success and the “Pony” job to the director, currently at a private health facility recuperating from an accidental overdose of approximately 200 pills from 17 different prescriptions consumed Thursday night. Cautiously optimistic about his future in the film industry for the first time since “Joe” was screen-tested, Devlin quoted Sommers as saying, “ Seriously, Len, you better not be joking. If I find out Ashton Kutcher’s got anything to do with this, I swear I will kill your family in front of you with my bare hands.” Asked how Sommers could sign on to a film without being aware of it, Devlin explained that his client was technically dead for seven minutes when he first arrived at the emergency room Thursday, during which time he had power of attorney for his client.
36-year old virgin men and six year old girls alike will be chomping at the bit to see “My Little Pony: Dark Horse Rising” for a while yet. But plenty of other plotless, toy-inspired SFXtravaganzas should keep them entertained in the coming months. In addition to the early 2010 releases of Universal’s own “Stretch Armstrong” feature and “Rom: Spaceknight” at Sony, Disney has reportedly fast-tracked the Jim Henson Studios-developed “Cabbage Patch Kids”, aiming for a late 2010 release date. And visionary “Watchmen” director Zak Snyder is rumoured to be close to reaching an agreement with Dreamworks to tackle yet another beloved toy franchise, according to Dreamworks co-founder Steven Spielberg, who went on to say, “Visual effects technology has reached the point where we believe we can finally do the Care Bears justice.”
About the author: In addition to a sporadically updated blog with a readership well into the mid-teens, Andrew Foley wrote the comic books Parting Ways, Done to Death, and The Holiday Men. He also has a co-writing credit on the Cowboys & Aliens comic, but we don’t talk about that. He’ll be posting on Mightygodking.com until either he or Christopher Bird realize they’ve made a terrible, terrible mistake.