Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz and Mattel Films EP Robbie Brenner shared their plans for even more toy-based movies.
Now that we're all officially living in a Barbie world, following Greta Gerwig's box office-topping adaptation, starring Margot Robbie as the titular doll, Mattel is officially in the moviemaking business -- and they're not slowing down anytime soon!
Mattel Films has a host of projects in the works, with Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz and Mattel Films executive producer Robbie Brenner opening up to Variety recently about all the toy-based films they have in development.
As far as the possibility of Barbie sequels, while Gerwig skated around the question during her promotional interviews for the film, Kreiz pointed out that there's plenty of story to explore in the Barbie canon without making a direct follow-up film.
"Barbie, as a brand, has many different iterations. The product lines of Barbie is a very broad brand," he notes. "In addition to the main Barbie figure, she has family, she has a lot of elements around in her universe. It’s a very rich universe… It’s a very broad and very elastic brand, in terms of opportunities."
And, according to Mattel, there's even more stories to tell in their rich family of characters, toys and games, from Barney to Polly Pocket to Hot Wheels and more.
"At the outset, we’re not saying, 'OK, let’s think already about movie two and three.' Let’s get the first one right and make that a success," Kreiz says of Barbie's popularity. "And if you do that, opportunities open up very quickly, once you establish the first movie as a successful representation of a franchise on the big screen."
"Successful movies lend themselves to more movies," he adds. "Our ambition is to create film franchises."
In addition to the projects below, Mattel is also developing films based on Magic 8 Ball, Uno, Matchbox cars, View Master, Thomas & Friends and more.
Read on to learn more about some of the most exciting upcoming toy-based projects!
Producer: Daniel Kaluuya
Rumors and memes have circulated like wildfire as the internet wonders how filmmakers might tackle the beloved purple dinosaur in a way that will "subvert expectations," as Brenner said upon the announcement of a Barney-centric film in October 2019.
In a press release at the time, Kaluuya said, "Barney was a ubiquitous figure in many of our childhoods, then he disappeared into the shadows, left misunderstood. We're excited to explore this compelling modern-day hero and see if his message of 'I love you, you love me' can stand the test of time."
Now, however, while Brenner told Variety that the film will be "more adult and have adult themes — and sort of be a little bit off-kilter," it's not necessarily going to be dark, tonally. Rather, similar to Barbie, the Barney movie will aim to tackle more existential questions about "identity and finding who you love and who feels alienated."
"I don’t know that it’s necessarily going to be darker. It's just going to be unique — more of like a Being John Malkovich or an Adaptation," she adds. "Any movie that has Barney is not certainly going to be straightforward... We’re not making Ted. You know what I mean?”
Star/Producer: Lily Collins
Writer/Director: Lena Dunham
Collins confirmed her involvement with a Polly Pocket project with an excited Instagram post (and hilarious Photoshop job) in July 2021.
"As a child who was obsessed with Polly Pockets, it’s a real dream come true to announce this project! I am partnering with the most inspiring powerhouse team — Robbie Brenner, @lenadunham, @mattel and @mgmstudios — to reintroduce Polly to the world in a fun, modern way… bringing these tiny toys to the big screen," she wrote. "Truly so excited to be coming on as both a producer and Polly herself! Can’t wait to dive into this pastel world…"
Brenner confirmed to Variety that there is a "great" script for the project in the works.
"First of all, they are two of my favorite ladies ever," she says of Collins and Dunham. "It’s been an amazing collaboration. Lena is so collaborative and rolls up her sleeves and really likes to roll around in notes and listen. She’s incredible. Lily is so smart and so specific and so productorial. It’s just been an incredible collaboration, so we are thrilled about it. Hopefully, we’ll be making that at some point in the future."
Producer: J.J. Abrams
The Star Wars and Star Trek producer will take things back to the streets with his adaptation of Mattel's top-selling toy cars.
Brenner told Variety that Abrams' take on the line will have "real characters that you can relate to, that are three-dimensional, that have emotional journeys."
"Look at any J.J. Abrams movie. All of his movies have an incredible story and incredible characters," she adds. "That was something that was important to him — to make a movie that’s not just going to be fun and exciting, but that has real emotion and real stakes to it."
Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots
Star: Vin Diesel
Writer: Ryan Engle
The Fast & Furious franchise star will get his gloves on for a film based on Mattel’s tabletop robot-fighting game.
"Vin is excited," Brenner tells Variety. "We’re working on developing a script and we’re all very excited about it."
Brenner was more tight-lipped about the family comedy based on the popular collection of historical and modern dolls, but notes, "We have something great in the works."
Major Matt Mason
Star: Tom Hanks
Writer: Akiva Goldsman, Michael Chabon
Tom Hanks is currently attached to play the 1960s astronaut action figure who lives and works on the moon.
Masters of the Universe
A He-Man project has been in the works for several years, with stars like Noah Centineo attached to play the titular hero. However, Variety reported on July 18 that the most recent iteration -- set to star West Side Story actor Kyle Allen -- was officially dead at Netflix and is looking for a new home.
Barbie is in theaters now.