“’Thomas’ is a beloved global franchise that focuses on the importance of friendship, a theme that resonates deeply with children and parents around the world,” said Mattel Films chief Robbie Brenner. “Marc is an incredible storyteller and I look forward to partnering with him to tell Thomas’ story in a modern and unexpected way.”
The companies, which announced the project Tuesday, said “Thomas & Friends” will be a four-quadrant family adventure that blends live-action and animation. Mattel Films will co-produce the film alongside Forster and Renée Wolfe, co-founder and co-CEO of 2Dux.
Alyssa Hill (“A Taste of Power”) and Jesse Wigutow have written the script. Brenner and Kevin McKeon will lead the project for Mattel Films.
“Thomas & Friends,” celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, introduces children to the world around them through the wonder and awe of trains. Thomas was first created in 1945 by Rev. W. Awdry in stories for his son, Christopher. Today, the character is just as beloved by children as he was when he first chugged down the tracks. Thomas’ stories are currently told through the “Thomas & Friends” television series (now in its 24th season), toys, books, apps and more.
“Thomas has been a personal favorite of mine since childhood,” said Forster. “I couldn’t be more excited to be working with Robbie and the entire team at Mattel, and embarking on this beautiful journey with such a timeless property.”
“Thomas & Friends” joins other Mattel Films projects in development including films based on American Girl, Barbie, Barney, Hot Wheels, Magic 8 Ball, Major Matt Mason, Masters of the Universe, View Master and Wishbone. However, Mattel has lagged behind rivals Lego and Hasbro in terms of moviemaking in Hollywood. Lego has released a quartet of movies through Warner Bros. since 2014. Hasbro has partnered with Michael Bay and Paramount on six “Transformers” movies, which have grossed $4.8 billion worldwide, and seen movie success from its G.I. Joe and Ouija brands.
Mattel’s most recent foray into movies came with 2016’s live-action “Max Steel,” which performed poorly with less than $4 million at the domestic box office.
Forster and Wolfe have worked together for over 20 years and decided to form the 2Dux company eight years ago, partnering on “World War Z,” “Christopher Robin” and “All I See Is You.” Forster’s other directing credits include “Quantum of Solace,” “Monster’s Ball,” “Stranger Than Fiction” and “Finding Neverland.”
Hill is represented by Kaplan/Perrone Entertainment as well as Mahdi Salehi and Katherine McClure at HJTH. Wigutow is represented by Verve, Kaplan/Perrone Entertainment and Sloane, Offer, Weber & Dern.