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Board game bonanza: Mattel sets 'action heist' UNO movie; 'Whac-A-Mole' competition series

By Josh Weiss
Lily Yachty UNO

Mattel is bringing family game night to screens both big and small with projects based on two classic properties: UNO and Whac-A-Mole.

UNO is being turned into a live-action movie — with Grammy-nominated rapper Lil Yachty attached as a producer. Robbie Brenner and Kevin McKeon (of Mattel Films) and Kevin “Coach K” Lee, Pierre “P” Thomas and Brian Sher (of Quality Films) are producing as well. Described as an "action heist comedy, set in the underground hip hop world of Atlanta," the feature was written by Marcy Kelly. Specific plot details beyond that initial synopsis are being kept in the discarded pile for now.

"I'm so excited to be part of this film with Mattel,” Yachty said in a statement. “I played UNO as a kid and still do today, so to spin that into a movie based on the Atlanta hip hop scene I came out of is really special. It hits close to home for me."

"At Mattel Films, we are looking to explore stories that bring our brands to life in unexpected ways,” added Brenner. “UNO is a game that transcends generations and cultures and we look forward to partnering with Lil Yachty, as well as with Coach, P and Brian Sher, to transform the classic UNO game into a comedic action adventure.”

Dating back to a Cincinnati barbershop (circa, 1971), Uno is a strategic card game in which players attempt to rid themselves of cards until only one remains in their hand. When that happens, the person must declare "UNO!" if they want to win fair and square. One gains the upper-hand by forcing their opponents to draw extra cards or skip their turn entirely. Today, the game is available across the world in over 80 countries. To celebrate the property's 50th anniversary this year, Mattel pans to introduce new twists on gameplay, a worldwide tournament, and more.

Last November, it was reported that an UNO game show was in development from Propagate Content and Let’s Make a Deal showrunner John Quinn. Whac-A-Mole is getting similar treatment, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Partnering with Jayson Dinsmore of Fremantle (the production company behind American Idol and America's Got Talent), Mattel hopes to craft a an engaging reality competition series out of the iconic game that requires quick timing in order to bonk subterranean mammals on the head.

"Whac-A-Mole is a beloved, action-packed arcade game with a deep fan following, and the interactive nature and comedic energy of the game makes it a great franchise for episodic television,” Mattel's Adam Bonnett, who is developing and executive producing, said in a statement run by THR. "Jayson and the team at Fremantle have had unparalleled success creating iconic reality television series and are the perfect partners to help us bring this classic game to life in new ways.”

"We’re so excited to have the iconic Whac-A-Mole brand as our newest playground,” added Dinsmore. “Partnering with Mattel to bring this classic game to television in a dynamic and synergistic life-sized world is a dream come true."


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