Rights deal would amp up long-gestating action film
Interest in a Hot Wheels movie is revving up again, with Legendary Entertainment in early negotiations with Mattel to acquire film rights to the popular toy car line.The deal would keep the project parked at Warner Bros., where Legendary is based. No director or writers have yet been hired, but the potential pic is not targeted at the kids who buy Hot Wheels. Instead, the plan is to produce an edgier pic along the lines of Universal’s box office success “Fast Five.” A Legendary spokesperson declined to comment. WB had previously been trying to take Hot Wheels out for a spin on the bigscreen with Joel Silver, who had been developing the project through his Silver Pictures shingle. But development on the project hit the skids after “Speed Racer” stalled at the box office in 2008. Mattel produced a sizable line of Hot Wheels cars and playsets to tie in with that film. In 2003, Sony’s Columbia tried to develop a Hot Wheels movie, with McG attached to helm. A number of producers have been vying for rights to Hot Wheels, including Lorenzo di Bonaventura (already comfortable with toy-based pics after producing the “Transformers” franchise and “G.I. Joe”), as well as Joe Roth, who has stepped up his interest in high-profile properties with “Alice in Wonderland,” “Oz, the Great and Powerful” and “Snow White and the Huntsman.” But Mattel wound up gravitating toward Legendary and Warner Bros., which are not only interested in the property but have an existing relationship with the toymaker. Mattel is the global master toy licensee for Warner Bros.’ DC Comics and has prominent placement in “Green Lantern,” out this weekend. Legendary also has been aggressive in going after the film rights to high-profile pop-culture properties — including Batman, Superman, Godzilla, “World of Warcraft,” “Mass Effect” and “Clash of the Titans” — to co-finance with Warners or self-produce. Those efforts helped attract Mattel’s execs and made them feel more comfortable setting up one of their most popular toy brands with Legendary. Mattel has a number of other toys set up at studios around town: It has “Monster High” and “Major Matt Mason” at Universal, with Tom Hanks attached to star in the latter as the astronaut based on the 1960s action figure; “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” at Sony; and “Magic 8 Ball” at Paramount. Mattel is repped by CAA.