Hasbro Announces the Passing of CEO Brian Goldner

Hasbro announced that longtime chairman/CEO Brian Goldner passed away following a seven-year battle against cancer. He was 58. His death came just days after he took a leave of absence for medical reasons.

Goldner helped transform Hasbro from toymaker to media company, producing movies with Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks, in addition to acquiring Canadian media distributor eOne in 2019 for $4 billion.

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“Since joining the company more than two decades ago, Brian has been the heart and soul of Hasbro,” interim CEO Rich Stoddart said in a statement. “As a charismatic and passionate leader in both the play and entertainment industries, Brian’s work brought joy and laughter to children and families around the world. His visionary leadership, kindness, and generosity made him beloved by the Hasbro community and everyone he touched. On behalf of the Hasbro family, we extend our deepest, heartfelt condolences to his wife, daughter, and entire family.”

Goldner joined Hasbro in 2000 and was quickly recognized as a visionary in the industry. He was appointed CEO in 2008 and became chairman in 2015. He was instrumental in transforming the company beyond toys and games into television, movies and digital gaming.

The culmination of his pioneering strategy was the acquisition of independent entertainment studio eOne. Goldner served on the board of ViacomCBS and was the chair of the compensation committee.

“Brian’s passing is a tremendous loss for Hasbro and the world,” said Edward Philip, lead independent director of the board. “Brian was universally admired and respected in the industry, and throughout his over twenty years at Hasbro, his inspiring leadership and exuberance left an indelible mark on everything and everyone he touched. A mentor and friend to so many, his passion and creativity took Hasbro to new heights.

Goldner is survived by his wife Barbara and their daughter.

Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins

DIGITAL REVIEW:

Paramount;
Action;
Box Office $28.14 million;
$19.99 VOD, $24.99 Digital Purchase;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of strong violence and brief strong language.
Stars Henry Golding, Andrew Koji, Ursula Corbero, Samara Weaving, Haruka Abe, Takehiro Hira, Iko Uwais, Peter Mensah.

Fans of “G.I. Joe” know four traits about Snake Eyes, the mysterious black-clad commando of the team, that tend to stay consistent throughout the various iterations of the lore: He doesn’t talk, he wears a mask because he’s disfigured, he was an American soldier before joining G.I. Joe, and he trained in martial arts with the Arashikage ninja clan alongside Storm Shadow, who would go on to join Cobra.

This prequel look at Snake Eyes’ origins doesn’t bother with three of them and instead focuses solely on the ninja stuff.

What we do get is enough of a departure from established lore that it’s hard to tell who exactly this movie is for. Fans won’t be interested in a Snake Eyes movie in which he talks and doesn’t wear a mask, and for mainstream audience the movie plays more like a generic fantasy about a ninja family feud. References to the counter-terrorist team G.I. Joe fighting the global terror group Cobra are at least shoehorned in to connect it to the franchise’s main storyline.

Another common trait in previous depictions of Snake Eyes in comic books, cartoons and the earlier “Joe” movies was that he was a white serviceman who took up with the Arashikage clan, making for something of a cultural dichotomy (not unlike The Karate Kid).

It’s a heck of a legacy for a character that started off as an action figure molded in pure black as a cost-saving measure to round out the first wave of a collection of soldiers in the early 1980s.

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But, fearful of any hints of cultural appropriation in these hyper-sensitive times, in this movie he’s played by Henry Golding, who is half Asian (Malaysian on his mother’s side, British on his father’s). Snake Eyes is presented as the son of a spy who is murdered, taking his name from a set of loaded dice rolled by his father’s killer to determine his fate.

Growing up seeking revenge, Snake Eyes is recruited into the Yakuza by Kenta (Takehiro Hira). In a scene reminiscent of Batman Begins, Kenta orders Snake Eyes to kill a man caught spying on the Yakuza, but Snake Eyes instead spares his life and helps him escape. That man, Tommy (Andrew Koji), is the heir to the leadership of the Arashikage clan, and also the cousin of Kenta, who was cast out by the clan and seeks revenge of his own.

Tommy welcomes Snake Eyes into the clan and trains him in the ways of the ninja. The clan’s mission is to guard an ancient magical stone that can burn people with the power of thought, a weapon that Kenta wants to get his hands on so much that he’s aligned with the Cobra agent the Baroness (Ursula Corbero). She’s being tracked by “G.I. Joe” trooper Scarlett (Samara Weaving), thus providing Snake Eyes a connection to his future team.

The plot turns on a series of betrayals and double crosses, and there’s plenty of action to make this a decent run-of-the-mill martial arts movie. But with the “G.I. Joe” label slapped on, the character at the center of it doesn’t feel much like the Snake Eyes fans know.

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Among the extras included with the digital version of the film, and which also will be available with the future disc release, are five deleted scenes that run about 30 seconds each — too short to have much impact.

There are also four featurettes: the nine-and-a-half-minute “Enter Snake Eyes,” a look at the making of the film; “A Deadly Ensemble,” about the cast and the characters they play; a seven minute look at the Arashikage clan; and a three-minute short film about the history of Snake Eyes’ sword, Morning Light. Interwoven throughout is an interview with Larry Hama, the comic book writer who created the original storylines for most of the characters.

Snake Eyes arrives on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Oct. 19. Note that the 4K edition does not include a regular Blu-ray copy.

G.I. Joe Movie ‘Snake Eyes’ Available Digitally Aug. 17, on Disc Oct. 19

Paramount Home Entertainment will release the action movie Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins for premium digital purchase and on premium video-on-demand Aug. 17, followed by Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Oct. 19.

Based on Hasbro’s G.I. Joe toy line, Snake Eyes delves into the backstory of the mysterious title character, a ninja warrior who conducts covert operations for the counter-terrorist military unit known as G.I. Joe. Welcomed into an ancient Japanese clan after saving the life of their heir-apparent, Snake Eyes (Henry Golding) joins the battle against the terrorist group Cobra. The cast also includes Andrew Koji as Storm Shadow, Úrsula Corberó as Baroness, and Samara Weaving as Scarlett.

This is the third live-action “G.I. Joe” movie, rebooting the franchise following 2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and its sequel, 2013’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation.

Snake Eyes earned $27.5 million at the domestic box office.

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The 4K version of Snake Eyes will include Dolby Vision, while both the 4K and Blu-ray discs include Dolby Atmos sound. The 4K and Blu-ray combo packs also include access to a digital copy of the film.

Extras include deleted scenes and several featurettes:

  • “Morning Light: A Weapon With Stories to Tell” — a short film that reveals secrets about Snake Eyes’ legendary sward;
  • “Enter Snake Eyes” — A look at the making of the film;
  • “A Deadly Ensemble” — a look at the cast;
  • “Arashikage” — an examination of the elite ninja warrior world of the film.

 

Also available will be Steelbook edition of the 4K combo pack, and a three-movie set of Snake Eyes, Rise of Cobra and Retaliation.

Vudu is offering an extended seven-minute action scene from Snake Eyes as a free preview.

‘Old’ is New in Weekend Box Office Forecast

The Universal Pictures thriller Old, from director M. Night Shyamalan, joins Paramount Pictures’ newest “G.I. Joe” franchise release Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins as the July 25 weekend’s biggest new theatrical releases.

The two films will take on previous domestic box office champs Disney/Marvel Studios’ Black Widow and Warner Bros. Pictures’ Space Jam: A New Legacy

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Unlike Black Widow and Space Jam: A New Legacy, both Old and Snake Eyes will have exclusive theatrical runs. Universal, which has abbreviated window agreements with AMC Theatres and Regal, could offer Old to consumers in the home for $19.99 PVOD after three weekends if total ticket sales fall below $50 million.

The studio’s sequel The Forever Purge is available today (July 23) across myriad digital platforms, including Redbox Digital, Vudu Fandango and Amazon Prime Video.

Both Old and Snake Eyes are reportedly projected to generate around $15 million each this weekend across 3,500 screens, which includes Thursday (July 22) previews.

Black Widow and reigning box office topper Space Jam: A New Legacy, starring LeBron James, are concurrently available online, the former, starring Scarlett Johansson, via a $29.99 Premier Access Disney+ add-on, and the latter for no extra charge to HBO Max subscribers.

Recent data from Samba TV found that 2 million households have purchased Black Widow, a $60+ million tally Disney confirmed in its first-ever PVOD data disclosure. Some observers contend the strong in-home consumer demand hurt the Marvel superhero’s sophomore weekend box office, which plummeted about 68%.

Other holdovers include Universal’s F9: The Fast Saga with $4.8 million projected box office, according to Box Office Pro; Sony Pictures’ Escape Room: Tournament of Champions ($3.7 million); The Boss Baby: Family Business ($3.3 million, Universal); The Forever Purge ($2.2 million); A Quiet Place Part II ($1.5 million, Paramount), and Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain ($1 million, Focus Features).

‘G.I. Joe’ Films ‘The Rise of Cobra’ and ‘Retaliation’ Due on 4K Ultra HD July 20

Paramount Pictures’ G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and G.I. Joe: Retaliation, based on Hasbro’s action figures, will make their U.S. 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray debuts on July 20 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

The releases, coming in anticipation of the theatrical premiere of Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins, include Dolby Vision and HDR-10.

Starring Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayans, Sienna Miller, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rachel Nichols, Ray Park, Dennis Quaid and Christopher Eccleston, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra follows a top-secret elite strike force featuring the best operatives from around the globe.  After a high-tech secret weapon is stolen by a mysterious and evil organization known as Cobra, it’s a race against time for the G.I. Joe team to avoid their enemy from plunging the world into chaos.

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Dwayne Johnson, Channing Tatum and Bruce Willis star in G.I. Joe: Retaliation. The G.I. Joe team has been set up to take the fall for a terrible crime they didn’t commit. Now, Roadblock, Duke and the rest of the team must once again face their mortal enemy Cobra, as well as dangerous new threats operating within the government.

The G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra two-disc 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray set includes access to a digital copy of the film along with previously released bonus content, including commentary by director Stephen Sommers and producer Bob Ducsay.

The G.I. Joe: Retaliation two-disc 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray set includes access to a digital copy of the film along with previously released bonus content, including commentary by director Jon M. Chu and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, and on the Blu-ray the commentary, several featurettes and deleted scenes.

The Toys That Made Us: Seasons 1 & 2

DVD REVIEW: 

Street Date 5/7/19;
Screen Media;
Documentary;
$29.98 DVD;
Not rated.

This eight-part documentary series that originally premiered on Netflix delves into the history of some of the most influential toy brands from the past 50 years.

With a particular focus on toys that were big in the 1980s, when the loosening of the rules governing television programming blurred the line between content and advertising, it’s no surprise that many of the toy lines profiled here also rank among the most significant pop culture franchises as well.

Fittingly, then, the first episode deals with “Star Wars,” and how the George Lucas space opera forever changed the landscape of movie merchandising, while elevating a small toymaker such as Kenner into a national powerhouse. Not that other major players such as Hasbro and Mattel aren’t represented.

The hour-long episodes are divided into two seasons — one season per disc — and smartly focus on a different toy brand each episode. That allows each episode to find its own voice in telling the story of that particular toy, while letting viewers pick and choose which episodes they want to watch based on which of the toys are of interest to them.

Other season one episodes focus on “Barbie,” “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” and “G.I. Joe.” Season two deals with “Star Trek,” “The Transformers,” “Lego” and “Hello Kitty.”

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Aside from some invaluable under-the-radar lessons about business and marketing, the episodes offer a pure blast of childhood nostalgia, particularly for Gen Xers who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s.

Which isn’t to say that younger viewers can’t find something to enjoy in the show, as most of these toy lines are pretty timeless. Plus, the upcoming third season will look at newer toys such as “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Power Rangers” (in addition to “My Little Pony” and professional wrestling toys).

The shows offer a lot of fascinating details about how the toys were created and evolved. The “He-Man” show is entertaining simply for how so many of the line’s creators want to take credit for coming up with it. The story of the creation of Battle Cat is particularly hilarious.

The first disc offers an eight-minute behind-the-scenes featurette with series creator Brian Volk-Weiss, who delves into what his goals for the show were and why certain toys were chosen to be profiled.

It seems like a bit of an odd choice to include “Star Trek,” which has never really been associated with a robust toy line. But as the narrator continually brings up how less successful “Trek” toys have been compared with “Star Wars,” the episode comes across more as an avenue to profile the various toy companies like Mego, Galoob and Playmates that tried their hands at “Star Trek” toy lines over the years, with varying degrees of success.

In fact, the lone deleted scene included with the DVDs is from the “Star Trek” episode, consisting of a two-minute clip of various talking heads wondering why the toys based on the J.J. Abrams “Star Trek” reboot didn’t sell well.

That discussion hints at the challenges that not just toymakers, but any steward of a popular brand face in the rapidly changing information age. Some brands have always had better success than others in crossing from one generation to the next, but the means of instant gratification brought on by the Internet have altered the tactile relationship viewers have with their favorite content, both in the collectability and playability of the merchandise associated with it.

As one of the talking heads notes in the deleted scene, we don’t really have pop culture anymore. We have a customizable culture, in which consumers can focus on their fandoms like never before.

Whatever the case, at least we have shows like “The Toys That Made Us” to help remind us why we love these things to begin with.

Documentary Series ‘The Toys That Made Us’ on DVD May 7

Screen Media will release The Toys That Made Us: Seasons 1 & 2 on DVD May 7.

The eight-episode Netflix documentary series chronicles the creation, marketing evolution and rise in popularity of several key toy lines, with each episode focused on a different brand.

The first four episodes focus on “Star Wars,” “Barbie,” “He-Man” and “G.I. Joe,” with the second season dealing with “Star Trek,” “Transformers,” “Lego” and “Hello Kitty.”

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