Following the news that the popular Transformers franchise will see at least four more films in the next decade, another 1980s toymaker is looking to jump on that train. According to The Tracking Board Mattel is working with Solipsist Film to produce a movie based on the animated series Dino Riders.
The show was essentially an extended infomercial from the Transformers era that focused on selling dino action figures, and saw a limited run of 14 episodes when it first aired in 1988.
Here’s the thing: they were pretty awesome action figures — and in today’s Hollywood, that might be all it takes to craft a money-churning hit. The show featured time-displaced humans fighting aliens from laser-equipped warships which they had attached to the backs of dinosaurs. The prehistoric partners were recruited to the cause via some kind of interspecies telepathy. (Do we smell Oscar buzz?)
The short-lived series didn’t have much time for story development, but there should be enough backstory to build the all-important franchise the producers are no doubt hoping for. The series focused on the war between an advanced human race called the Valorians who sent themselves back in time during a battle with the frog-resembling Rulons, with plenty of tangential adventures to be had in the Jurassic landscape.
Executive producers Alissa Phillips (Moneyball, Dracula Untold) and Stephen L’Heureux (Sin City: A Dame To Kill For) are heading development, but there has yet to be a writer or major studio attached to the project, which is in its early stages.
So far, the best remakes of classic 1980s cartoons (Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, GI Joe) have embraced the ridiculous, focusing on the sheer entertainment that comes with big explosions and relatively corny extended fight scenes. On the business front, it’s hard declare immediately that a Dino Riders film can compete directly with the Transformers franchise, given the big bucks those films bring in. After all, these films trade on nostalgia, and Dino Riders is a lesser known entity to the 30-somethings many of these films target.
That said, perhaps the success of Jurassic World proves that a laser-backed dinosaur war film might have some real earning potential.
Either way, at the very least we can be sure there will be some great new action figures to go with the movie.