Russo brothers to produce ‘Magic: The Gathering’ series

Hasbro Inc and Wizards of the Coast display their Magic: The Gathering Amonkhet series at the 2017 American International Toy Fair in New York City, US. (AP pic)

NEW YORK: Hasbro Inc’s popular fantasy card game “Magic: The Gathering”, featuring wizard duels and mythical creatures, is about to go more mainstream.

The toymaker is teaming up with the Russo brothers, known for their work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – including the two recent “Avengers” films – to create an animated series for Netflix.

The series “Magic: The Gathering” will feature a new storyline that expands on the game’s power-wielding heroes, called Planeswalkers.

The “Magic” franchise was launched more than two decades ago by publisher Wizards of the Coast, a company started out of a Seattle basement and later acquired by Hasbro. The trading card game has expanded into a digital format, a novel and a comic series.

The Netflix series will be produced by a comic book nerd’s dream team: Joe and Anthony Russo of “Avengers: Endgame” and “Infinity War” fame, who have said they are “huge fans and players” of the game.

And for the lead writers, Hasbro has hired Henry Gilroy of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and Jose Molina of “The Tick.”

Since the June 2 announcement, Hasbro shares have posted the biggest two-day gain in more than a month.

The stock rose 6.2% Tuesday. Wall Street is mostly bullish on Hasbro, with nine buy ratings, seven holds and zero sells.

One of those bulls is MKM Partners analyst Eric Handler, who praised the project’s ability to attract big Hollywood names.

“We believe ‘Magic: The Gathering’ has significant revenue and above average profit margin potential for Hasbro,” he said. “The franchise brand for Hasbro appears on a meaningful path for growth over the next 3-5 years.”

Meanwhile, peer Mattel Inc climbed 12% Tuesday after signing an international licensing agreement with Sanrio Inc to develop toys and products inspired by long-time favourite Hello Kitty & Friends and other characters in Sanrio’s portfolio.