Recently, Michael Eisner's company announced that they would be bringing Bazooka Joe to the big screen, and I wondered if Hollywood has any perception of the future they're creating.
Check IMDb: there are movie versions of Stretch Armstrong, Battleship, Monopoly and Ouija Board in development, along with an updated take on Clue. Over time, they've also tried to make Slinky, Super Soaker and Hot Wheels into movies, and of course we've succeeded in gracing theaters with Bratz, Transformers, and the 1980's gem Mac and Me, which regardless of the blatant E.T. rip-off, was clearly a movie about McDonald's. Really?
The point of adapting an existing, established brand name is that you have a built-in audience, but what exactly is the audience for Bazooka Joe comics? How many people out there love Joe so much they'll leap at the chance to see a movie with his character? But more importantly, do we really want to look forward to a future where all we've got coming out is licensed properties? I mean, we're pretty much already there: seeing Star Trek a second time this weekend, they played the trailers for Land of the Lost, G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra and Transformers: Rise of the Fallen. And these are at least properties with established fans, who are going to go see the movie adaptations in question. I can't imagine people lining up for Stretch Armstrong, and even if people would, I don't think I want to see it.
It's easy to complain about established franchises and the growing commercialization of Hollywood, but I wonder if people even think about what they're missing. Instead of a Beverly Hills Cop for the 21st century, we're probably going to end up with a literal new Beverly Hills Cop movie. Instead of any Die Hard-level action movies, we're going to have to a third Transformers or future X-Men prequels. Our generation won't get a Ghostbusters or a Back to the Future, we're just going to get more of what we've already had, whether that means sequels, reboots, or adaptations we don't want, like the unfortunate Bazooka Joe.
But I'd like to be wrong. Let's hope summer 2010 brings us a blockbuster of surprising scope and exhilarating invention, and that no part of the idea came off of the back of a bubble gum wrapper.