G.I. Joe unit drafts Kasanoff

G.I. Joe is raiding the shores of interactivity but not before he headlines a big-budget pic chock-full of juicy war exploits.

Indie producer Larry Kasanoff said Wednesday he’s been enlisted to put together a feature on the well-known war toy with plans for a blitzkrieg of other related interactive projects.

Kasanoff, who recently inked a similar accord to develop the videogame “Mortal Kombat,” agreed to terms with toy manufacturer Hasbro to create a whole film and videogame campaign for the fatigue-clad G.I. Joe battalion, which has sold more than250 million dolls and 130 million vehicles since the birth of the original G.I. Joe in 1964.

After the pic, Kasanoff will produce, along with Sunbow Prods., an animated and live-action TV series. Several new interactive videogames, a film-based merchandising program and even a theme-park attraction are possible.

“It really is an opportunity that abounds,” Kasanoff said. “It’s the most identifiable action-hero name in the world. It has been for 30 years. Generations of kids have grown up playing with his toys.”

Before Kasanoff got involved, a group including producers Martin Abrams, Gene Kirkwood, Silvio Berlusconi and brothers Anthony and John Gentile pacted to bring G.I. Joe to the bigscreen this year to commemorate the toy’s 30th anniversary. But that deal, with Warner Bros. as distributor, fell apart and the rights reverted to Hasbro.

In a statement, Hasbro prexy Larry Bernstein said he was excited about signing Kasanoff. “We couldn’t think of a better person to translate the legend of G.I. Joe into an exciting, unforgettable live-action feature film.”

Kasanoff, the former Lightstorm Entertainment prexy, said he’s already begun looking for financing for the pic, which he expects to be big-budget. Though he would not divulge any salient plot points, he said the story would explore a “whole mythology” heretofore unknown about the character.

Kasanoff added the film will appeal to more than just today’s youngsters because so many kids from another generation grew up with the beard-stubbled playmate.

In September, in his first major move since leaving Lightstorm last summer, Kasanoff signed on to produce the “Mortal Kombat” pic, which may be spun into an ani or live-action series. With these projects under way, Kasanoff is quickly turning into a major player for synthesizing feature ideas with interactive potential.

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