Universal Studios has confirmed a six-year partnership with toy manufacturer Hasbro to produce at least four films based on their properties.

Popular entertainment items such as Monopoly, Clue, Ouija and even Stretch Armstrong could receive big screen outings as part of the deal, although Hasbro's GI Joe and Transformers are not included in the contract as they are already attached to Paramount films.

The huge box office success of Michael Bay's Transformers movie in 2007 has inspired a sequel described by star Shia LaBeouf as "just massive", while The Mummy helmer Stephen Sommers is currently commencing production on the GI Joe movie, scheduled for a 2009 release.

However Universal has exclusive access to all other Hasbro products, with a first film likely to be released in 2010 and Michael Bay attached as a producer for a Ouija movie.

"This deal gives Universal access to some of the greatest brands in the world," said Universal chairman Marc Shmuger and co-chairman David Linde in a joint statement.

"Hasbro's portfolio of products has tremendous emotional resonance with children and adults. They offer an exciting opportunity for us to develop tentpole movies with built-in global brand awareness, which is a key component of our slate strategy."

While products such as Battleship and Magic: The Gathering could present attractive propositions for filmmakers, Monopoly is currently the project with the most momentum.

The film is being developed by Ridley Scott, who directed American Gangster for Universal and plans to reteam with Russell Crowe for Nottingham, his retelling of the Robin Hood legend, for the same studio.

Talking to Empire magazine after the BAFTA awards, the Blade Runner director confirmed he is currently with Universal regarding the project.

He added: "What's amusing about Monopoly is that it underscores the mean side of people. Monopoly changes people, the nicest person becomes a monster – as soon as they buy Park Lane, that's it, they've all changed.

"I'm trying to figure out what tone of comedy it could be. It could be a really big film."


21/02/2008 11:45:16