‘Slinky’ Movie From ‘Billy Madison’ Director in Development

The film will focus heavily on Slinky creator Richard James's wife, Betty James, who took over the company when Richard left her and their six children.


Slinky — the popular springy children’s toy — is getting the Hollywood treatment. Tamra Davis, the filmmaker of Billy Madison and Half Baked, is set to direct Slinky, a movie based on the true story behind the inception of the playroom staple.

Though the Slinky was created by Richard James, the film will center on his wife Betty James, who took over the struggling business after her husband left her with their six children and a nearly bankrupt company. In an era dominated by male CEOs, Betty James held her own and helped turn the Slinky into a must-have item for kids.

Joanne Rubino is producing the film through her Be Brave Media production banner. Chris Sivertson is writing the Slinky screenplay, along with Ann Carli and Cristina Curbelo. Principal photography is expected to begin in 2021.

Image via MCH

“I am so thrilled to have the opportunity to tell the story of Betty James; a female inventor, business woman and dedicated mother who with her husband Dick James invented the Slinky,” Davis said in a statement. “When I read her story I was so inspired by the ups and downs of their rags to riches tale. I had no idea the iconic toy told the story of American innovation, domestic drama and the rise of the female executive. Betty James’ life is a moment in American history where women proved they could not only survive in the face of despair but flourish when the opportunity presented itself. I immediately connected with Betty James. She was an intrepid woman who’s goal in life was to create joy and make people happy.”

Just Play, the toy company behind the Slinky, is also producing the film.

“Slinky has been one of the most popular toys for generations,” said Just Play co-president Geoffrey Greenberg. “We are thrilled to partner with Be Brave Media to share the inspiring story of how this innovative product became one of the best-selling playthings of all time.”

Dino Ladki, who long championed development of the movie, will serve as an executive producer. Marcus Englefield, and George Lee of Storyoscopic Films and Jeremy Ross will also produce, and Ann Carli and Robyn Klein will serve as executive producers.

“Tamra was an instant and instinctual choice for us to helm this film,” Rubino said. “She will elevate the storytelling to a new level with Betty James point of view in the foreground and the iconic Slinky toy as the co-star.”

Davis has directed numerous TV episodes, such as Dead to Me, The Politician, Santa Clarita Diet and Grey’s Anatomy. She also worked with Spike Jonze on the music documentary Keep Your Eyes Open.

Davis is represented by Verve, 3 Arts Entertainment and law firm Lichter, Grossman, Nichols, Adler, Feldman & Clark.

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