First manufactured as a wallpaper cleaner in the 30s, a modeling compound known as Play-Doh is coming soon to a theater near you, per a recent report in Deadline. Hasbro and entertaintmentOne (eOne) announced on March 17 that they are mounting a Play-Doh animated feature film. Written by the writer of The Big Sick, Emily V. Gordon, it will be produced (and possibly directed) by Jon M. Chu, best known as the director of 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians.
Play-Doh is the number one arts and crafts toy brand sold in over 80 countries. “The team looks forward to bringing the audience a moldable, pliable, iconically scented story about the importance of imagination,” Chu and Gordon told Deadline.
Gordon, married to Eternals actor Kumail Nanjiani, is best known as the producer and writer of the Oscar-nominated original screenplay The Big Sick, loosely based on the couple’s relationship. She also co-created Apple TV+’s Little America. On Thursday, Marcy 17th, Gordon tweeted, “Jon and I had a series of conversations about creativity, imagination, and the purpose of art that were so fun and juicy that I knew I had to do this. I’ll get to use some of my play therapist training too, maybe….”
Chu directed the first major Hollywood film to feature a primarily Asian cast in a modern setting since 1993’s The Joy Luck Club. He is also known as the director of 2021’s In the Heights and 2015’s Jem and the Holograms. Chu also has other experience directing films based on toy products, having directed G.I. Joe: Retaliation. According to People, on his Instagram Story, Chu said, “How cool is it that I get to play with @emilyvgordon and the rest of our #ElectricSomewhere team for this animated event!!”
When Marketing Meets Movies
Hasbro first wanted to bring Play-Doh to the big screen in 2015. That year, Hasbro Studios and 20th Century Fox announced they were working on a film based on the multicolored, moldable compound and Hasbro’s subsidiary company Allspark Pictures and Chernin Entertainment producing. The 2015 Play-Doh movie was going to be directed by Bridesmaids and Spy director Paul Feig through his production company Feigco, with Jason Micallef writing the script. Now, eOne is joining forces with Gordon and Chu to revive the Play-Doh movie.
This becomes the latest example of branded products jumping to the big screen. People mocked Warner Brothers for producing The Lego Movie. But with Phil Lord, Chris Miller, and an incredibly talented cast on board for the $60 million films, it grossed $658 million worldwide and got a fantastic sequel and spinoff, thanks to Will Arnett’s role as the first Emo Batman (sorry, Robert Pattinson, but Lego Batman came first).
There is also 1988’s Mac and Me, which is much maligned and notorious for being one of the worst movies ever made because of the blatant Coca-Cola and McDonald’s product placement throughout the movie. Although that movie even has a good side (and it isn’t just the film’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode), it also has to do with its place in disability film history. Mac and Me was a “huge deal” in 1988 because “it marked one of the exceptionally few times in film history where a disabled actor had secured a role for a character that wasn’t ‘written disabled’ and didn’t have the disability made into a defining character trait or plot element.”
What will the Play-Doh movie bring to the table? Lance Johnson and Jane Lee will oversee the new Play-Doh movie at Chu’s Electric Somewhere banner. Gordon will also executive produce. Joining her are eOne’s Jillian Share, Chanel Vidal, and Steven Holster.