Have you secured your Transformers movie tickets yet? The Michael Bay film, which opened last night at a cinema near you, promises to be a hot ticket as we head into the Independence Day weekend.
There are plenty of companies banking on a strong showing here. Let's take a quick peek at the obvious -- and some not-so-obvious -- publicly traded companies with their fingers in the celluloid pie.
Sure, the movie studio behind the film always has plenty at stake. Bankrolling a big-budget epic is no small feat, especially one with Steven Spielberg attached as executive producer. A strong showing would justify Viacom's Paramount studio's purchase of DreamWorks.
A film based on a popular toy line? Hasbro should be enjoying the (Optimus) prime of its life. With a hit film carrying over into the critical holiday toy-selling season this year, Hasbro, not Viacom, has the most to gain here.
GM donated $1 million worth of its cars to star as the heroic 'bots in the film. Unless you heaved your TV out the window in recent weeks, you've probably also seen plenty of Chevy and GMC commercials promoting the film. If the roundabout product-placement strategy works (GM supposedly didn't physically pay for the placement, beyond providing the cars and bankrolling its own ads), it could make GM cool again with young future car owners.
Every good action flick deserves an equally exciting video game, and Activision snagged the license to the Transformers titles. Sure, Activision's slate is loaded with other games, but after seeing how the first wave of Spider-Man games catapulted the company back into the spotlight, a prolific licensed property like this one can go a long way.
You're probably not stuck on Glu just yet. The mobile entertainment provider just went public four months ago. However, this company produced a licensed Transformers game for cell phones. You can even check it out online before buying it.
The home of the Whopper has flame-broiled its way through a pretty impressive turnaround in its first year as a public company. Now it's packing its latest kids' meals with Transformers tie-in toys.
Didn't see this one coming, did you? The world's leading auction marketplace has joined forces with Transformers to create the Transform Your World site, featuring an instant-win game, the ability to bid on movie props, and other flick-related features.
By the time Optimus Prime and his fleet of Autobots have finished their big-screen run, this will be Hasbro's feast or famine. Even if the film's PG-13 rating keeps younger Transformers fans away, the movie's publicity is stirring up demand for the playthings, both among pint-size neophytes and older fans with buckets full of much-used Transformers in their attic. And if you have no interest in checking out the film, the TV spots in which General Motors cars morph into good-guy Autobots are still providing healthy exposure to Hasbro's toy brand.
Most importantly for Hasbro, its conquest of Hollywood doesn't end here. Next month, the Bratz dolls have a live-action film coming out. Bratz are the handiwork of the privately-held MGA Entertainment, but Hasbro licenses the popular dolls, putting out a Bratz board game as well as a themed BOP IT electronic game.
There may also be bigger fish to fry later. Isn't it time for a G.I. Joe revival? (Indeed, Transformers producer Lorenzo DiBonaventura is working to bring that other '80s toy staple to the big screen.) Aren't popular Hasbro board games like Monopoly, Life, and Candy Land ripe for the silver screen? The fact that Transformers toys may wind up being hotter than ever -- 23 years after their debut -- should make any shareholder excited.
Toymakers as content juggernauts? Believe it. The transformation of Hasbro may be even more impressive than that of its heavy metal playthings.
More (Foolishness) than meets the eye:
Hasbro, Activision, and eBay are all Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter recommendations. You can screen that service over the next 30 days for free with a trial subscription.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is hoping Tim Burton takes on Candy Land as his next project. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.