How they ever thought this was a good idea is beyond me. But then, a 3-D movie based on the Stretch Armstrong action figure is really no less ridiculous than making a $200 million alien invasion flick based on Battleship - you know, the board game - and that thing was actually produced (it comes out in May).

Nevertheless, the leadership over at Universal (who were previously developing the title with "Twilight" beefcake Taylor Lautner in the lead) have apparently dropped the project from their slate, as today Relativity Media announced they would now be developing the film with Hasbro - sans Lautner (no mention of whether they're still planning it as a 3-D movie).

I'd say that's a smart move on the part of both Universal and Lautner (assuming the decision to exit the project was his and/or his team's), given the inherent absurdity of making a live-action movie based on a largely-irrelevant action figure. And yet...

“We are absolutely thrilled to partner with Hasbro, a company whose global reach and ability to innovate has made them immensely successful in the arena of brand re-imagination-- as evidenced by their legacy of creating such franchises as Transformers and G.I. Joe,” said Relativity co-president Tucker Tooley in a press release. “We look forward to bringing Stretch Armstrong to audiences worldwide.”

The difference between properties like Transformers and G.I. Joe versus a property like Stretch Armstrong, of course, is that the mythologies of the former two toy franchises had been previously fleshed out via animated series and comic books, while Armstrong...well, even if the character does have some kind of a back-story, how many people can honestly say they know what that is?

There's a larger observation to be made here, in that Relativity's pickup of the Stretch Armstrong project is indicative of a larger problem in Tinseltown these days - namely, the obsession with creating film franchises based on pre-existing properties. Still, what good is a pre-existing property when no one really cared to see a movie made about it in the first place?

Universal, of course, is still the studio that will either suffer the consequences or reap the rewards of "Battleship"'s box-office success or failure, and with its bloated budget and the uncertainty of how far the Battleship brand can stretch (pun totally intended), you can bet they're getting nervous as the film's spring release date approaches.

Lautner, meanwhile, still needs to prove himself outside the "Twilight" franchise, with last fall's "Abduction", if not exactly tanking, not exactly establishing his solo box-office credentials either. Signing on to the Stretch Armstrong movie seemed a bad decision from the start, and he's wise to have extricated himself from it (again, assuming the decision was his) and instead set his sights on establishing his "serious actor" bona fides by attaching himself to star in and produce that new Gus Van Sant indie film that was announced a few months ago.

So, what are your thoughts on a Stretch Armstrong movie? Does the idea sound as silly to you as it does to us? Also, do you agree that Lautner is better off now that he's no longer attached to star? Sound off in the comments!

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