After exploiting old television shows, movies, comic books, action figures and board games, Hollywood is moving on to the next logical property: gum.
Michael Eisner and his Tornante Co. have tapped newcomer Mark Hammer to pen a feature adaptation of “Bazooka Joe,” the comic strip that comes with Bazooka bubble gum.
Hammer, who this weekend is attending the graduation ceremony at Orange County’s Chapman University, where he studied film, wrote a spec titled “Sonny Takes to Peru,” which made the studio rounds but ultimately did not sell.
That spec, however, turned into a strong writing sample that got him into meetings as well as representation at management outfit the Safran Co. Execs at Tornante, seeking to fill their open writing assignment,liked the spec and brought in Hammer, who gave them his winning take.
“Bazooka Joe” has been a comic strip used as an advertising device for the gum since the 1950s. Joe, who wears an eye patch for reasons never explained, has child-friendly misadventures, sometime joined by a host of friends with the names Pesty, Mort (always with a turtleneck sweater pulled up over his mouth), Toughie, Hungry Herman, love interest Jane and a dog named Walkie Talkie.
Bazooka, the gum and the comic, are part of trading card company Topps’ stable. Eisner purchased the company in 2007 for $380 million with a mandate to rejuvenate the brand.
For too long: this important pop culture icon has been hampered by poor story telling in the form of unfunny two-panel comic inserts. Here’s hoping they take the character back-to-basics with a complex, realistic, “darker” origin story in the vein of Nolan’s Batman films.
Since this is likely signaling a new trend, please pitch your own product-turned-movie in comments.
My personal dream casting is Dwayne Johnson for a Mr. Clean movie. I’m just sure he can capture the essence of the character: a vaguely ethnic, chrome-domed lothario who charms lonely housewives with his washboard abs and nearly-debilitating obsessive compulsive disorder.
Previously: Larry Clark’s ‘Candy Land’