State of Play

Toy companies have become Hollywood's new auteurs

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Alexander Ho for TIME

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Toy companies are also digging through their vaults in hopes of reviving favorites as new blockbusters. Battleship, based on the Hasbro board game and starring Liam Neeson, True Blood's Alexander Skarsgard and Rihanna, is due next May; Hasbro also has movie versions of Ouija, Candy Land and Clue in the pipeline. Mattel is developing films around its tried-and-tested toy lines, including Masters of the Universe, Hot Wheels cars and Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots--though Real Steel, a DreamWorks movie starring Hugh Jackman and an army of boxing robots, is already slated for an October release. DreamWorks says its mechanical pugilists have nothing to do with Mattel's. But amid all this repurposing of vintage brands, Real Steel might just represent something akin to true innovation: the first bootleg toy-franchise movie.

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