Can you say “notable IP with four quadrant brand recognition?”
You know that thing when something in real life can’t help but resemble a parody made not long ago? Like how this weekend’s Geostorm seemed like the type of movie that would have only existed in a moderately funny SNL skit? Or how any number of Tracy Jordan’s movies could also serve as latter day Tyler Perry movies? Nevermind the existence of the Trump Administration being an elaborate long con to make us all second guess Onion articles from real ones. Yes–truth can indeed be stranger than fiction.
And in that regard, we got one hell of a strange truth today: Michael “Transformers But Also The Rock, Let’s Not Forget That The Rock is Pretty Good” Bay is producing a live-action adaptation of Dora the Explorer. Yes, that Dora the Explorer. The Nickelodeon cartoon for preschoolers. Michael Bay. Preschoolers. Two things that certainly should not appear in a sentence together, and seems to indicate the type of project that this viral College Humor video about a live action Dora the Explorer made fun of over five years ago.
But as admittedly bizarre as the news might be at first glace, there’s a certain logic to it if you delve deep enough into the world of Hollywood studio politics. Because, as previously stated, Dora the Explorer IS a Nickelodeon property. And the owners of Nickelodeon are CBS/Viacom…who also own a little studio by the name of Paramount Pictures. Paramount has been Sony-ing it up lately in an effort to find a new hit franchise, and even created a label entitled “Paramount Players” to plow through Viacom-owned properties in search of potential cinematic hits. And their newest
victim property is apparently Dora the Explorer, the massive children’s cartoon that has been a pre-K TV staple for over 17 years.
Now what brings Michael Bay of all people into the mix? Well, if you haven’t noticed lately, Michael Bay has pretty much been Paramount’s savior in the last decade, giving the studio billions of dollars in profit with the Transformers series. This has given him and his production company, Platinum Dunes, a lot of clout at the company, and a first look deal on all projects that go through Paramount. And when he and his cohorts at Platinum Dunes heard what Paramount was planning, they decided they wanted in.
Now, why would they want that, exactly? Well, why did Paramount decide to develop a live action Dora the Explorer movie in the first place? Everyone believes/hopes that a marketable property will be enough to make a hit in the modern film climate. And though I would argue that is a foolhardy mantra (brand recognition sure didn’t help Warcraft, Battleship, and Ghostbusters), it’s the only strategy the studios got, and they are going to try and make it work however possible.
Now if you’ve really gotten this far and are somehow still curious about a live-action Dora the Explorer movie and what it could be, Deadline claims the current pitch finds Dora “as a teenager who moves to the city to live with her cousin Diego.” So your standard “fish-out-of-water” tale, as all these unessential live action remakes find themselves exploring. I guess if what your adapting doesn’t fit into the medium at all, it’s best to steer into that skid, huh?
If there’s any silver lining here, it’s the involvement of Nicolas Stoller, who will be penning the screenplay and potentially directing the film as well. Stoller is a very good writer/director, and has shown himself capable of writing funny kid flicks with stuff like Captain Underpants and the two new Muppet movies. And then he’ll go off and direct Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Neighbors, because you can be good at two different things, people.
So, yeah…if you’re the audience for a live action Dora the Explorer movie, having Stoller on board should be enough to quell the strangeness of Michael Bay also being involved. Then again, if you’re the audience for a live-action Dora the Explorer movie, you’re also non-existence, so your personal comfort level doesn’t really matter, does it?
Also published on Medium.