Toys to Cartoons to Movies

As Transformers: Dark of the Moon rakes in the big bucks, it is a good example of an unexpected path to box office success.  The franchise began as a bestselling toy series by Hasbro then was adapted into a popular cartoon and finally became a hit film trilogy. 

Others have tried this model with various levels of success.  Masters of the Universe did fine as a toy line and cartoon, but failed as a movie (starring Dolph Lundgren as He-Man and Frank Langella as Skeletor).  Dungeons and Dragons began as a famous role-playing game and then drew fans as an animated series, but couldn't capture that magic as a motion picture with Jeremy Irons, Marlon Wayans, Justin Whalin, and Thora Birch.  Both of these franchises aren't giving up, though, as new reboots are being developed.

G.I. Joe has a long history as an iconic toy line and then a high-rated television cartoon.  Its recent live-action movie, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, did surprisingly well, sparking an upcoming sequel. 

Let's not forget (as much as I wish I could) the upcoming adaptation of The Smurfs, which started as collectible toy figures and become the poster-series for 1980s sugary cartoons.

I previously wrote about cartoons based on toys, but how many of them can translate into successful live-action movie series?  Thundercats is being revived soon as a new cartoon, but will it ever make the jump to the big screen?  One of my favorites, Star Blazers, has received the live action treatment overseas, but will it ever fly in America?

Hollywood, always on the look out for a pre-established idea, is already planning adaptations of other toys, such as Hot Wheels, Monopoly, Battleship, and others, skipping the cartoon middle phase all together. 

There are some toys/cartoons that I wouldn't mind seeing on the silver screen in big budget live adaptations:  Voltron, Battle of the Planets, Thundarr the Barbarian, The Herculoids, and Space Ghost.  Any movie, no matter its source material, is only as good as the creative talent behind it.  Then again, flops like Speed Racer might quelch the trend before it picks up any more steam.