From Brands To Blockbusters: 17 Winners and Busts

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- I had a hunch Hollywood had run out of original ideas when they dragged Indiana Jones out of his well-earned retirement. My suspicions were confirmed when they began to stuff cavalcades of actors into a single movie like it was a clown car (a la Valentine's Day, New Year's Eve, The Expendables).

But as it turns out, this isn't a new development. Tinseltown has been out of ideas for decades, mining inspiration from sources it already knows you've spent money on. If there's a slight chance audiences will throw some cash at it, you better believe they've made a movie of it.

It's a lucrative deal when brands are used as a basis for blockbusters and an audience is eager to spend $15 for a two-hour advertisement.

And while some have earned their keep, others bombed. Here are TheStreet's top picks for when brands turn blockbuster...

Note: All box office figures are sourced from

The Latest

#1 -- The Lego Movie

This isn't the first Lego movie to grace our screens. Star Wars and Lego have been teaming up for straight-to-video releases for years. But Warner Bros. managed to find the perfect mix of entertainment and substance with The Lego Movie. The film has proven such a hit the studio recently greenlit a sequel set to release in May 2017.

Brand owner: The Lego Group

Movie owner: Warner Bros. (Time Warner (TWX))

Earning power: The film has made $183.2 million in domestic markets and $275.7 million worldwide since its release on Feb. 7.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 96%

Action Figures and Loud Noises

#2 -- Masters of the Universe

Originally a series of action figures, He-Man and Skeletor were soon a part of animated TV shows, comic series and a 1987 feature film. Legend has it half the movie's $22 million budget was spent on body oil.

Brand owner: Mattel (MAT)

Movie owner: Golan-Globus Productions, The Cannon Group, Edward R. Pressman Film Corp

Earning power: Total domestic gross of $17.34 million

Rotten Tomatoes score: 18%

#3 -- Transformers

Three movies were directed under Michael Bay's eye for making things crash and explode - Tranformers (2007), Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009), Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011). And because it's been a long three years without a new release, the franchise has been rebooted with Mark Wahlberg in the lead this year.

Brand owner: Hasbro (HAS)

Movie owner: DreamWorks Pictures (DWA) & Paramount Pictures

Earning power: Transformers (worldwide gross of $709.71 million), Transformers 2 ($834.97 million), Transformers 3 ($1.12 billion)

Rotten Tomatoes score: Transformers (57%), Transformers 2 (20%), Dark of the Moon (36%)

#4 -- G.I. Joe

Before he Magic Miked his way into our hearts, Channing Tatum was G.I. Joe back in 2009's G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra. For the 2013 sequel G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Bruce Willis and Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson came along for the ride because they're contractually obligated to appear in at least five gun-and-explosion movies a year.

Brand owner: Hasbro

Movie owner: G.I. Joe 1 (Paramount Pictures, Spyglass Entertainment), G.I. Joe 2 (Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn Mayer, Skydance Productions)

Earning power: G.I. Joe 1 (worldwide gross of $302.47 million), G.I. Joe 2 ($375.74 million)

Rotten Tomatoes score: G.I. Joe 1 (35%), G.I. Joe 2 (28%)

Wait, Wasn't That a Board Game?

Board games are no longer solely engineered to create family tension and feuds. They are also now available in movie form: no dice or talking required.

#5 -- Clue

Owing to the starring roles of Tim Curry (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) and Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future)and its kitschy, over-the-top nature, the film has become something of a cult classic since it was released way back in 1985. Based on its namesake mystery murder board game, Clue follows the story of six guests invited to a house to solve a murder mystery. With sexy results.

Brand owner: Hasbro

Movie owner: Paramount Pictures

Earning power: $14.64 million in domestic sales

Rotten Tomatoes score: 62%

#6 -- Battleship

Rihanna and Liam Neeson star in this spectacularly big-budget 2012 blockbuster which was a spectacularly big flop. The film, which was estimated to cost $260 million, centers on a fleet of ships which must fight an armada of alien robots. The line "You sunk my battleship" was cruelly left on the cutting-room floor.

Brand owner: Hasbro

Movie owner: Universal Pictures (CMCSA)

Earning power: Overseas sales saved this movie. Worldwide gross was $304.08 million, of which only $65 million was from domestic markets.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 34%

#7 -- Dungeons and Dragons

This 2000 take on the infamously nerdy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons was able to get Jeremy Irons as the star, proving even Oscar winners aren't infallible.

Brand owner: Wizards of the Coast (Hasbro subsidiary)

Movie owner: Behaviour Worldwide, MDP Worldwide, Silver Pictures, Station X Studios, Stillking Films, Sweetpea Entertainment

Earning power: Worldwide gross of $33.8 million, well under its estimated budget of $55 million (CGI dragons are expensive).

Rotten Tomatoes score: 10%

Popcorn and Dolls

#8 -- Bratz

This line of dolls with proportions more exaggerated than Barbie's (think oversized heads, big eyes, even bigger lips, but short, short skirts) was turned into what was hoped to be a franchise-starter with its 2007 film. Jon Voight also had a role in the film, because, sure, why not?

Brand owner: MGA Entertainment

Movie owner: MGA Entertainment, Lionsgate Entertainment (LGF) (because they weren't always so lucky to have The Hunger Games)

Earning power: $10.01 million total domestic gross, $26.01 million worldwide gross

Rotten Tomatoes score: 9% (by way of comparison Jackass: The Movie received 48%. Just putting things in perspective)

#9 -- Kit Kittredge: An American Girl

A surprisingly good film starring Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine), Jane Krakowski (30 Rock) and Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games), based on the American Girl doll line, a series where each model is set in various periods of American history.

Brand owner: Mattel

Movie owner: Picturehouse, New Line Cinema, HBO Films

Earning power: $17.66 million total domestic gross

Rotten Tomatoes score: 78%

Good Luck Sleeping Again, Kid

#10 -- Garbage Pail Kids

This 1987 movie was so campy it was creepy. The concept was based on a trading card game of the same name -- a parody of Cabbage Patch Kids, though instead of adorable toddlers sprung from a veggie garden, the characters usually had a gross habit (think snot and toilet humor).

Brand owner: The Topps Company

Movie owner: Atlantic Entertainment Group

Earning power: Total domestic gross of $1.58 million

#11 -- Mars Attacks!

Tim Burton: giving children nightmares since 1971. His 1996 film Mars Attacks! was no different - a black humor take on an alien invasion starring a buffet of stars (Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Michael J. Fox, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Martin Short). The film was based on sci-fi trading cards originally released in 1962 but which have since seen waves of popularity in the 80s and 90s.

Brand owner: The Topps Company

Movie owner: Tim Burton Productions, Warner Bros.

Earning power: Worldwide gross of $101.37 million

Rotten Tomatoes score: 52%

Captain Jack Sparrow Gets His Own Category

#12 -- Pirates of the Caribbean

Once a ride, now a franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean has four films under its belt -- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), Dead Man's Chest (2006), At World's End (2007), On Stranger Tides (2011) -- with a fifth on the way (out in 2016), and was responsible for propelling Johnny Depp from fringe player to blockbuster star.

The film series is based on the boatride attraction, the original which is located in the New Orleans Square sector of Disneyland. Interesting fact: it was the last attraction Walt Disney oversaw construction of before his passing.

Brand owner: The Walt Disney Company (DIS)

Movie owner: Walt Disney Pictures, Jerry Bruckheimer Films

Earning power: PotC 1 (worldwide gross of $654.26 million), PotC 2 ($1.06 billion), PotC 3 ($960.99 million), PotC 4 ($1.03 billion)

Rotten Tomatoes score: PotC 1 (79%), PotC 2 (54%), PotC 3 (44%), PotC 4 (33%)

Unicorns and Rainbows and Smiles

#13 -- Care Bears

Nothing says warm and fuzzy like Mickey Rooney. He starred in the animated film The Care Bears Movie back in 1985.

Brand owner: Originally conceived of by American Greetings in 1981, though Kenner Products (later purchased by Hasbro) was responsible for the toy lines.

Movie owner: Nelvana, The Samuel Goldwyn Company

Earning power: Domestic gross of $22.93 million

Rotten Tomatoes score: 60%

#14 -- My Little Pony

Hasbro has a monopoly in parlaying its portfolio into every other bankable product possible, whether a success or not. It was the latter for this 1986 animated film which starred Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman.

Brand owner: Hasbro

Movie owner: Marvel Productions, Sunbow Productions, Hasbro

Earning power: Total domestic gross of $5.96 million

#15 -- Pound Puppies

The mid-80s were a smorgasbord of toy-movie crossovers but the 1988 animated film Pound Puppies and The Legend of Big Paw fell in the trash. Listen out for Nancy Cartwright as one of the characters, Bright Eyes, before she hit the big time voicing Bart on The Simpsons.

Brand owner: Tonka before 1991, but later purchased by Hasbro. Because of course.

Movie owner: Tonka, Carolco Pictures, Family Home Entertainment, The Maltese Companies, TriStar Pictures

Earning power: Total domestic gross of $586,131

The well is dry. We've run out of ideas.

#16 -- Hot Wheels

The rights to this film have played hot potato all around Hollywood but it's looking likely Legendary Pictures and Universal will pilot this movie which is slated to be "more Mission: Impossible than Fast & Furious," according to Hollywood Reporter. Legendary is hoping to get the project into gear in the current quarter.

Brand owner: Mattel

#17 -- Angry Birds

Angry Birds isn't exactly the must-have app anymore, having been surpassed by the next gaming fad (Flappy Bird, Candy Crush, et al). But Angry Birds has been parlayed into other mediums - it's a cartoon, a theme park, a plush toy - so maybe this movie can take wing. The full-length is slated for a summer 2016 release.

Brand owner: Rovio Entertainment

Movie owner: Developed, produced and financed by Rovio, distributed by Sony Pictures  (SNE)

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