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Mind-Reading Movies: Hollywood's Latest Resurrected Trend

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | April 16, 2010 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | April 16, 2010 |

It was 80’s horror movies; then 80’s toys; then 80’s board games; and, most recently, a resurgence of talking baby movies. Now, it seems, the latest trend in Hollywood development deals is the mind-reading movies. Hollywood loves their gimmicks, but what exactly is the appeal of this one?

The success of 2000’s What Women Want, probably. That movie — about a man (Mel Gibson) who could read the thoughts of women — made $182 million and, a decade later, still stands as the second-biggest romantic comedy in box-office history. It’s taken a while, but the influence of that movie is finally starting to trickle down into the bowels of studio development.

First out of the gate, it would seem, is the sequel to What Women Want, a Peter Chiarelli penned script that Cameron Diaz is currently attached to. What Men Want is a reversal on the original’s conceit, now set in the workplace. On paper it seems to have decent odds to repeat the success of the original — Diaz coming off of Knight and Day, and it’s a sequel to the second highest grossing rom-com penned by the writer of the sixth highest-grossing romantic comedy (The Proposal). But it needs to get out ahead of the competition before the idea grows stale; there is no deal yet in place for a director.

One of those major competitors is What Boys Want, which is essentially the same premise geared toward a younger audience. It has “Wizard of Waverly Place’s” Selena Gomez attached, but Gomez hasn’t yet proven that her appeal goes beyond the tweeners (and their Dads) who watch the Disney Channel.

But that’s not all. MGM is developing a movie that’s almost the same in concept as What Boys Want. Vibes is being described as What Women Want set in high school. At the moment, Emma Roberts is attached to that project, which was penned by Tiffany Paulson (Nancy Drew). There is a slight twist on this variation: Things begin to go pear-shaped for the girl when she learns what people really think about her.

But there’s more than just gender reversal or applying the concept to the Millennials. Columbia Pictures is applying the concept to … dogs. In Sammy, based on a Delia Ephron script, a woman who can read the minds of animals falls for a TV psychic ho claims to have the same relationship with dead people. Yeah. That one, at one time, had Lasse Hallström attached, though he’s since fallen off. Columbia, however, is trying to snag poor Anne Hathaway for the lead.

The only thing left, of course, is combining What Women Want with Look Who’s Talking, about a woman’s ability to read the minds of infants. It’s coming. You can bet on that.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.