Great Moments In Development: How DreamWorks Found A Movie Inside The View-Master


Perhaps seeking to build a slightly more family-friendly brand of toy-based blockbuster than the wrecking-ball-betesticled, deadly-whorebot-laden one that's currently dominating the box office, DreamWorks is in negotiations with Mattel to buy the film rights to the View-Master -- everyone's favorite childhood slide-viewer -- and has convinced Transformers writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci to come on board to produce the project. In an admiring nod to the kind of brave, out-of-the-box thinking necessary to go searching for a potential movie franchise in something as unconventional as a chunky red photo-viewing toy, Movieline is posting a recreation of the moment that led the mavericks at DreamWorks to chase their View-Master muse.

DreamWorks Development Offices. Recently.

"Hey, Mandy, come in here."

"What's up?"

"Close the door."

"Something wrong?"


"You know how pissed I was Universal closed Asteroids, right?"

"Yeah. By the way, that mock-up one-sheet you had put together with Matt Damon as the captain of the little triangle that shoots the space-shapes into smaller shapes is finally done."

"Jesus. Just have it shredded, OK?"


"So I've been thinking. What's our Asteroids? Everyone's gotta have an Asteroids or they're gonna get slaughtered in the family-friendly marketplace."

"Well, we did kick around Kaboom!, but McG didn't really respond to the material."

"But then it dawned on me. Atari games? That sh*t is too high-tech. Keep It Simple, F*ckface, that's an expression for a reason."

"I have that poster! With the little kitty hanging onto the branch! Sooo cute!"

"Stay with me here. So this morning I nearly break my neck tripping on this because my kid is too damned spoiled to put his stupid crap away."

He places a red View-Master toy on the desk. Mandy picks it up and holds it up to her face.


class="pullquote">Binoculars: The Movie? O-M-G, I love it! I'll call Steven right now!"

"No, you have to put in one of these discs with a bunch of photos on it. Here. Then you push the littler lever deal on the side."

She places a slide disc in the View-Master.

"I don't see anything."

"You have to hold it up to the light."

"Wait, so in the theater, are they going to have to hold one of these up to the light to see the movie?"

"Jesus, no! [beat] Maybe. [beat] No. Definitely no. Cost prohibitive. Regular 3D."

She holds it up to the light.

"Oooooh. Wow!"

"I mean, is that not a movie?. That. Is. A. Movie."

"I see two giraffes! In 3D! It's like Madagascar, but with just giraffes and no other animals! Why aren't they talking?"

"In the movie, they'll talk."


"I feel like the smaller giraffe has a Jamaican accent and makes a lot of jokes, and the bigger giraffe is like the more serious giraffe."

"Now click the lever."

"Now I see the Eiffel Tower! Are the giraffes going to France?"

"Oh, that must be an old sample disc.Click the lever again"

"A Ferris Wheel! It's like every slide is its own movie!"

"Now you're getting it."


"I'm thinking franchise."

"Are we gonna need to like option every slide separately?"

"Let's not get ahead of ourselves."

"So just the giraffes for now."

"Shhhh. OK, we're gonna need some kind of connective story. about a shy kid, his single dad works too much, he likes to escape into his View-Master world. And they have a bad fight, because maybe he never picks up his toys. Daddy's too busy to always be picking up his crap, you know? And so the kid says he wishes his View-Master world was real. Goes to bed crying. Picks up his View-Master. WHOOSH, he's sucked into the View-Master world."

"This is gonna be sooo much better than Asteroids."

"I'm thinking Matt Damon as the dad."

"Love Matt Damon for this!"

"He's gotta be looking for something his kids can watch with him."

"I'll start setting up the meetings."

"Call Kurtzman and Orci first. Mattel will be so horny to get them away from that Hasbro junk."

She clicks the lever again.

"Chihuahuas in top hats!" ♦


  • MCU says:

    The test now will be whether they're too fucking embarrassed after the bit about "Spitballing..." to go ahead with their idea which is...probably exactly the same thing.

  • nojo says:

    Make it View-Masters of the Universe, and there's yer 2010 tentpole.

  • jj says:

    I love it when people talk in periods.

  • Kyle Buchanan says:

    Soon enough, "Spitballing" itself may become its own franchise.

  • brainylagirl says:

    I dunno...I'm holding out for "Lincoln Logs: Wood vs. Plastic" a touching, intergenerational boy-builds-house coming-of-age story. Also, "Spirograph: The Reckoning." Then the raping of my childhood memories by studio execs will be complete.

  • Colander says:

    My life was complete after the Fat Albert movie. This is just icing.

  • Lowbrow says:

    How about a slide of some otters wearing keffiyehs and drinking caramel macchiatos.

  • Moochia says:

    Combine this with the proposed Bazooka Joe movie, and you got yourself a box office bonanza!

  • Mr. Sex says:

    I think there was some confusion. Maybe Spielberg was looking through Duck Tales slides in his viewfinder toy and exclaimed; Holy shit this would make a sweet movie.
    If only Orcci and Kurtzman weren't so afraid to talk to him and realize he wasn't talking about the viewfinder itself.

  • Pamela Strangeways says:

    Okay folks. They're dangerous. They look mean and yet not too mean. And they're hungry. Damned hungry. They are hungry, hungry hippoes! I'm thinking a Cloverfield meets Congo vibe.
    Group of scientists on safari thisclose to finding the solution for global warming. I'm thinking Gyllenhall and Portman as the leads. Maybe Seymour Hoffmann as a villainous Big Game Hunter. It's got Globes written all over it.

  • Steve Wimer says:

    A "Viewmaster" movie? It's a retro high-concept spitball! Destined for the Hall-of-Fame right beside Gaylord Perry. Actually, it's a charming idea. Takes me back to the 50's when I was a wee-lad and back when dimes were valuable for phone booths.

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