Tom Hanks circles 'Major' toy story
Universal will develop "Major Matt Mason," a live-action feature based on the vintage Mattel action figure. Pic will be developed as a star vehicle for Tom Hanks, and Graham Yost will write the script.
Playtone partners Hanks and Gary Goetzman will produce.
The toy line originated in 1966; Mason led an astronaut team that worked on the moon and lived in a space station. The toy was a hit in the buildup to the first manned moon mission. Mattel retired the line in the 1970s.
When Mattel execs Tim Kilpin and Barry Waldo came to Playtone for a meeting, they brought an arsenal of the Matt Mason figures. Hanks came armed with his own.
It might be difficult to convey how huge this is unless you were seven years old in 1969, in which case it doesn't require explanation. The toy line was iconic. I would ordinarily be pretty upset at the thought of someone unearthing a bit of my personal mythology and turning it into a Hollywood project all these years later. I mean to say, it's not like someone taking a book or comic you loved and turning it into a crappy film. It's more like someone stealing your favorite childhood toy and making you watch while he plays with it clumsily and breaks it. Right after taking twelve dollars from you.
However...if there's anyone in the world who could do this right, it's Tom Hanks. He might just pull it off and produce a film that conveys what space travel -- and space travel-based toys -- meant in the Sixties, up until we actually landed on the Moon. After that happened, it suddenly became boring and a waste of money and a distraction from the serious business of ending the war in Vietnam and campy and hopelessly naive and a relic of Cold War thinking. When it was no longer fantasy, nobody wanted to hear about space anymore (other than sad nerdy kids) and Major Matt Mason sales plummeted. But for a while there, this was the future.
(I do hope he puts in a female astronaut, though, because that's been waiting 40 years to happen. And Matt's space buddy Jeff Long damn well better be there too...)