Some of the most well known and/or successful movie franchises can't claim that they are "original" per se. Many movies nowadays derive their inspiration from book series and comic books series (Harry Potter, Marvel Cinema Universe, Hunger Games, Dark Knight, just to name a few). Others get source material from video games such as Resident Evil, Mortal Kombat, and even Super Mario Bros (1993 for those who remember that one). However, there is one potential source that I believe is being under utilized by the film industry: toys and games.
Sure there have been a decent amount of movies based on classic toys and games. The most well known being the Transformers franchise. Other movies that people may not remember, chose to forgot, or possibly didn't realize include Clue (1985), G.I. Joe (2009 & 2013), The LEGO Movie (2014), and Real Steel (2011 - inspired by Rock'em Sock'em Robots if you haven't connected the dots yet). Early last year, 20th Century Fox announced that they acquired the film rights to the first trading card game: Magic: The Gathering.
That being said, I feel like there is an untapped reservoir of source material that is just begging to find a home on the big screen. With the creative freedom that directors, writers, and producers have with the concepts of these films (Battleship for example), the possibilities are endless. In this article, I'm going to highlight 5 old-school toys and games that have the potential to be great films.
Simon: The Mastermind (Brain Teaser/Mental Games)
I might be starting this list off with toys that are a bit of a stretch but hear me out. Toys and games like Simon, Rubik's Cube, Mastermind, Tangrams, etc. were always the ultimate tests to see who was the smartest. With a toy that is made to test someones mental capacity, a film inspired by it probably won't be an action packed thriller. However, I still think that it is possible.
Premise: Think along the lines of a Saw type movie: mysterious force/being captures unsuspecting individuals for his entertainment. The group soon discovers that they are at the mercy of a super-genius named Simon The Mastermind, a man known for his elaborate death traps and riddling mind games. The captives have to figure out a way to navigate their way through this man-made labyrinth with different road blocks (hyper-stylized versions of the games) stopping their progression. After each completed task, they receive a portion of the color sequence needed for their escape. If they guess incorrectly, they not only have to tackle yet another puzzle but sacrifice one of their group members as tribute.
Mouse Trap is a two step game: 1.) build a Rube Goldberg-like contraption, 2.) trap all opposing mice. This game was right along side Monopoly in the frustration department. Looking back at my childhood, I can't remember ever playing a game of Mouse Trap that didn't end with someone getting angry and quitting before an actual winner was declared. Despite all that, this game still has potential to be the inspiration for a movie.
Premise: In a dystopian style universe, one rat has risen to power over all the resources of the vermin world. Not only does he control the food and supplies the mouse population are in desperate need for, he has forced generations of mice to construct intricate traps in order to secure his fortress and treasure. After years of tyranny, an underground resistance has finally acquired the blue prints in order to infiltrate the compound and take back what was rightfully theirs.
This game has been a classic for as long as I can remember. Candy Land has the simplest game play: draw a card (or in the remodeled version - spin the spinner), move to that color, be the first to get to Candy Castle. This board game is full of possibilities for a movie from creating full-scale versions of its delectable locations like the Ice Cream Sea or Gumdrop Mountain to bringing to life the classic characters like Mamma Gingersnap or Lord Licorice.
Premise: The fact that Candy Land is such a straight forward game, there are tons of openings to expand upon. Let's say that Lord Licorice has taken control of Candy Land with the help of his Licorice Lizard Army and the misunderstood Gloppy (a chocolate creature who gets mixed up with Lord Licorice in search of a friend) and are now holed up in Candy Castle with King Kandy hostage. The Kids (a group of vigilantes) now go on a quest to find anyone and everyone who are willing to help overthrow Lord Licorice. Along the way they meet the likes of Mr. Mint, The Duke of Swirl, and the lost princesses (Princess Frostine and Lolly) and together they journey their way to the (now) Licorice Lair. Possible Easter Egg: A reference to Django Unchained and their version of "Candy Land." They could have a dark Teddy Graham blow up a gingerbread house and ride off in the background.
Much like Candy Land, Hot Wheels is a mega classic dating back to 1968. In the past 50+ years, there has been a new line of Hot Wheels introduced almost every year. With every new generation of kids, this mainstay has always been a fan favorite for birthdays and holidays.
Premise: It is a contest of the ages, literally. Generations of cars dating back to the 1930's Woodie to the present day Challenger; classics like the VW Bus and pop culture icons such as the Back to the Future DeLorean have gathered to participate in the Hot Wheels Grand Prix. Instead of just participating on the traditional NASCAR raceways or the Formula 1 race tracks, these cars are going to be racing along different Hot Wheels tracks: Criss-Cross-Crash, Dino-Stunt Track, Robo-Stunt Track, etc. But not everything is what it seems when racers begin to disappear before and after the races and "freak" accidents start thinning out the competition. Possible Easter egg: Mix in some cars that resemble racers from Cars 2 like Lightning McQueen or Francesco Bernoulli.
This game might not be as well known as the others previously stated but this is a personal childhood favorite. For those who are unfamiliar with this game, it's a basic roll and move game. Roll the dice, move that amount of spaces down a river, up a cliff side, across a bridge to retrieve a jewel from the idol and return back to the start. What really sparked my interest with this game was two things: 1.) It's resemblance to the show Legends of the Hidden Temple (okay, not really but as a 4-year-old kid seeing a giant idol head and having to cross a swamp type thing was enough for me to connect the dots to the old game show) and 2.) The thrill of the motorized head possibly knocking you off the bridge. No other game had that kind of excitement of those cliché movie scenes where someone falls from a bridge and hangs on with one hand with miraculous-inexplicable strength.
Premise: An archaeological expedition leads a group to discover a temple dedicated to a god-like being. As they excavate and explore the inner workings, the group stumbles upon an ancient treasure in the form of priceless unknown gems. After each taking a gem, they make their way to the exit, they begin to realize that the temple is changing and reacting to them; bridges shake, walls move, doorways close off. It becomes a game of survival as the group battles the threats of this mysterious force halting their escape to freedom. Possible Easter egg: Include rooms and aspects that pay tribute to Legends of the Hidden Temple. Running away from temple guards, finding a key hidden in a room full of ancient relics, constructing the nearly impossible puzzle of the Silver Monkey, etc.
There are plenty of other games and toys out there that can be the inspiration for a new film franchise. What do you think it could be? Leave it in the comments!