Universal sets writer for superhero comedy

Universal Pictures has set “Bruce Almighty” scribe Steve Oedekerk to write “Stretch Armstrong,” a superhero comedy based on the Hasbro-owned toy.

The project marks the latest Hasbro property to find its way onto the Universal development slate since the toymaker made an overall deal at the studio. U and Hasbro are readying movie transformations of Monopoly (a potential Ridley Scott directing vehicle), Candyland (with Etan Cohen scripting and Kevin Lima directing), and Ouija (being developed by Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes).

Hasbro’s Brian Goldner and Bennett Schneir will produce “Stretch Armstrong.”

The toy, a 13-inch, blond-haired muscled figure whose limbs could be stretched to nearly four feet, was launched by Kenner in the ’70s. He had a dog named Fetch Armstrong, and a sibling, Evil X-Ray Wretch Armstrong. Attempts to turn him into a movie stretch back to 1998, when Disney tried to make the film with Danny DeVito and later Jackie Chan.

Hasbro’s Goldner reacquired the rights, and Oedekerk is starting from scratch. He has most recently been working on a sequel to “Kung Pow,” writing, directing and starring in the martial-arts spoof.

While the movie transformations aren’t always obvious, branded toy properties have become increasingly desirable to studios, even when, like Stretch Armstrong, they haven’t been on toy shelves for decades. Hasbro, which owns such toy lines as Nerf, Kenner, Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers, hits theaters twice this summer with “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” and “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.” Mattel is teamed with Warner Bros. and Joel Silver on “He-Man and Masters of the Universe,” recently setting “Kung Fu Panda” co-director John Stevenson to helm the large-scale film.

“This is a new well from which to draw intellectual properties that bring a pre-awareness and nostalgia,” Schneir said. “They are drawing filmmakers who find a real emotional connection and resonance, and this is proving to be a compelling driver for motion pictures.”

WMA reps Oedekerk.

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