Having realized that it can trick millions of moviegoers into plunking down their hard-earned cash for CGI-heavy, plot-bereft riffs on cheap plastic toys, Paramount Pictures is attempting to turn Beyblade into a live-action franchise.
The spinning top toy was originally developed and manufactured by Takaratomy, which also created Transformers. The product has sold well around the world, and a since-ended manga and cartoon series were created to support sales. Though it came out of Japan, Beyblade was eventually licensed to Hasbro in 2001, leading to the toy’s massive popularity (for a time) in the United States.
Paramount has found success with blockbuster adaptations of Hasbro toys like G.I. Joe and Transformers. Now, as it plots a third installment of the former and works to expand the latter into a cinematic universe, the studio evidently feels other products have box office potential.
What’s immediately questionable about this decision is the fact that, while Transformers and G.I. Joe toys came with actual characters and expansive backstories, Beyblades are really just spinning tops that bump up against one another, and the anime series really just centered on teens competing in high-stakes Beyblade tournaments – hardly the most exciting material for a mainstream franchise.
Hatching the stories for the movies will fall to Mary Parent (Pacific Rim, Godzilla, Monster Trucks), who is producing through her Disruption Entertainment banner. Parent has some experience turning toys into characters capable of supporting their own films, so she seems like a solid-enough choice for a job that still sounds frustratingly dumb.
Really, though, audiences have no one to blame but themselves. Transformers: Age of Extinction was the most profitable movie that came out last year, breaking a billion at the global box office and becoming the twelfth highest-grossing movie of all time. Of course Paramount is going to do whatever it can to spin out a winning formula – even if that means trying to make people care about something as silly as Beyblade spinning tops.