Taylor Lautner drops MAX STEEL for STRETCH ARMSTRONG

Whenever I hear Taylor Lautner has been cast in yet another movie, I can't help but think of that scene in Disney's Cinderella where Gus Gus is trying to gather up as much corn as possible, and keeps fumbling them. Lautner's team attaching him to everything in arms length isn't a bad business move, the high demand for the actor has driven up his price tag, making him the highest paid teenage actor in Hollywood. But we knew -- we've called it for months -- that he would simply not be able to do all these films.

Lautner has already dropped out of director John Moore's Northern Lights. Now, he's pulled out of another Paramount pic, Max Steel, in favor of Stretch Armstrong.

But Vulture reports that it wasn't Lautner's crowded schedule that caused him to pick one toy over the other:

Lautner had originally been signed on to do both Paramount's Max Steel (based on the doll by Mattel, the world's biggest toy company) and Universal's Stretch Armstrong (a classic character for Hasbro, the world's second biggest toymaker), with Steel up first. But insiders tell us that Lautner has just dropped the Mattel movie.

It apparently came down to the difference in efficiency between the two toy companies. Hasbro has already pumped out big-screen versions of their toys with the Transformers films and G.I. Joe raking in the box-office dough, while Battleship, CandyLand and Risk are moving faster through the development maze than Mattel's, despite being the dominant toy company. 

It doesn't hurt either that Stretch Armstrong has attracted a more experienced talent at the helm. Ron Howard had been rumored to be a possible director, but the LA Times reports that Monsters vs. Aliens co-director Rob Letterman, may helm the Stretch Armstrong.

Of course Howard is a far superior director, but the film seems a much better fit for Letterman. Stretch Armstrong had been pushed from its spring 2011 release date back to spring 2012 -- in part to accommodate Lautner's schedule, but this would also ensure they could properly shoot for 3D. Letterman has experience with 3D and stretching and growing humans with Monsters, and having just finished his first live-action feature, Gulliver’s Travels with Jack Black, the tale also entails growing and shrinking.

I imagine Paramount will look to recast the part of Max Steel, and somehow Stretch Armstrong may have a good director attached, but my interest in either is as a skeptic. Can these really make for good films?

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