Hollywood is littered with projects that have been in development for years and even decades, passing from one producer to another, from one studio to the next, from one writer to even more scribes, like an orphan no one wants to care for. And one of those projects is “Stretch Armstrong.” In the history of this blog alone, Nicholas Stoller was once hired to pen the screenplay, with Rob Letterman (“Monsters Vs. Aliens“) attached to direct. That incarnation never happened, and for a while Taylor Lautner was attached to star, before he was bounced off the project once everyone realized he wasn’t going to be able to carry a movie on his shoulders outside of “Twilight.” But the history of “Stretch Armstrong” is even stranger…
THR has an oral recap of the project (somewhat random, but something tells us Relativity will announce the new lead for “Stretch Armstrong,” now due in 2014, soon) and some rather fascinating names were approached/put on wishlists over the years. “John [Osher, owner of CAP Toys] was really locked on wanting Mel Gibson. We all thought it was kind of weird. And that was before the notoriety that Mel sort of can conjure now and then,” formerly attached director William Dear (“Angels In The Outfield,” “Harry And The Hendersons“) revealed. But it’s Osher himself who drops some of the more out there choices producers were tossing around.
“Yes, Mel was discussed. We were interested in any famous actor who had a prominent chin that could look like Stretch Armstrong. And Woody Harrelson also was considered,” the exec said. “When they got to Sinbad, I realized they didn’t care about what Stretch Armstrong looked like. I was interested in getting someone who could look like Stretch Armstrong because we had a toy that related to it and we didn’t have to make a new toy. Stretch was blond and had a big chin. Then they started talking Danny DeVito and this and that. Then I realized that they were in the movie business. Anything about toys was inconsequential.”
Yes, Danny DeVito. The actor was going make a pretty nice chunk of change for the part, but development woes and his demands thwarted it. “Danny DeVito did not want to do any short jokes,” producer Doug Draizin said. “The whole point of Stretch Armstrong was stretching and Danny DeVito, the short guy, stretching. Apparently, he didn’t want any references made to that. What came back to me was that [former president of Disney animation] Peter Schneider said, ‘There’s no way I’m paying Danny DeVito $10 million to be in a movie called Stretch Armstrong when you can’t make any real jokes.’ Something like that. Don’t quote me. I was devastated. Danny left the project. Then we had the idea of Jackie Chan.”
So yes, welcome to Hollywood, where Sinbad and Jackie Chan are considered viable options for “Stretch Armstrong.” The entire THR piece is pretty amazing to read simply as a crash course in development hell. As for the movie coming next year, directed by (sigh) Breck Eisner? Well, Relativity has their work cut out for them. “The biggest problem was that it wasn’t a superhero movie. There was no origin on Stretch. It’s just a title,” Draizin notes about the failed past movies.
Good luck, everyone and see you on April 11, 2014 (though will that date hold with no star or cast announced, and not a single frame of footage shot yet?).