Okay, it seems safe to say that this cinematic toy adaptation trend has officially entered “race to the bottom” territory now. Hot on the heels of the announcement that the American Girls series of dolls is being made into a feature film, and following in the wake of Hot Wheels, Barbie and Masters of the Universe (He-Man) also moving ahead with adaptations comes the following news: MGM and Mattel are making a movie based on the classic View-Master toy as well. According to The Hollywood Reporter, no writer or director is yet attached, but the project is described as a live-action feature film.
“Since the 1940s, View-Master has inspired wonder and joy in children of all ages, creating huge opportunities for storytelling,” said Robbie Brenner, Mattel’s head of film, in a statement. “MGM Pictures has tremendous expertise and a proven track record in capturing audiences’ imagination through film, and we’re proud to be partnering with them to bring another Mattel franchise to theaters. This marks another important milestone as we transform Mattel into an IP-driven, high-performing toy company.”
It’s exactly what you’d expect to hear in an announcement, but … really? The View-Master movie? I look forward to hearing this film’s high-concept plot—perhaps a young boy inherits a magical View-Master that allows him to look into a parallel dimension, or back in time? Or maybe they’ll take it in a more morbid direction, and it will simply show him how everyone he knows and loves will die. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part. I’m still reeling from the thought of 100 minutes of cinema being devoted to a View-Master.
The original View-Master toy launched way back at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, in order to hype the fair’s tourist attractions. It became a nationwide phenomenon in the 1950s, and has persisted ever since, even into the age of HD streaming video and virtual reality. According to THR, “modern View-Masters” now include some form of smartphone tech as well, but it’s been a while since we last laid eyes on one.
“View-Master was the first device that allowed families all over the world to escape their reality and take them places they never thought they could go,” said Jonathan Glickman of MGM. “We couldn’t be more excited to partner with Mattel to create a family adventure integrating the old school turn and click stereotypic device with the modern world of virtual reality.”
We look forward to the inevitable Slinky movie that will surely follow.