Tom Hanks is so widely acclaimed as Hollywood’s head of the A-List, that he was actually depicted literally as such in 30 Rock’s one hundredth episode. But lately, he’s been far busier behind the scenes. Hanks’ production company, Playtone Productions, is currently developing a thematically diverse but universally high-power trio of projects.
The first is a promising adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Nebula Award-winning novel, American Gods: a widely acclaimed epic characterization of the very ideas of gods and faith, borrowing from a vast resume of mythologies. The series promises a dense representation of the author’s vision via what we can expect to be some of the most impressive visual effects on modern television.
The second project reunites Hanks with Forrest Gump director Robert Zemeckis to breathe life into the classic Mattel toy Major Matt Mason, in a film named after the character. Hanks will play the lead: an astronaut whose work forces him to live perpetually on the moon. As to be expected from a contemporary action figure-based space film, it is to be shot in 3D and will foster a budget over $100 million. Major Matt Mason will remind viewers of an earlier Hanks, circa Big, as it marks the actor’s return to live-action films directed at children and parents alike. This 3D space film suggests a pattern in Playtone Productions’ tastes. In 2005, the company teamed up with IMAX to produce the documentary Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D, in which Hanks participated as co-writer, co-producer and narrator.
The third project on Playtone’s plate is a screen adaptation of Green Day’s American Idiot Broadway musical (itself adapted from the band’s 2004 album).
Of course, all of these projects will follow July’s Larry Crowne, a romantic comedy reuniting Hanks with Julia Roberts, in a student-teacher relationship at a community college, highlighting overtones of the present state of America’s economy and society. Hanks himself co-wrote the script with Nia Vardalos of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame: the pair’s teaming suggests nuanced characters making poignantly funny even the most dire of situations.