It’s Hollywood Barbie time (and she brings her friends)


“UglyDolls,” adapted from a line of plush toys, was a smaller-scale box office disaster for STX Films in 2019. Mattel himself was bruised in 2016 when “Max Steel,” a film in the modest budget based on a figurine, arrived at almost empty theaters. It received a zero percent positive score on Rotten Tomatoes, the review aggregation site.

“Unless you can create something that’s really sticky, really interesting, and really authentic, there’s no point in doing it,” said Robbie Brenner, who heads Mattel Films, which premiered in 2018. ( Mattel’s previous film division, Playground Productions, started in 2013 and folded in 2016.)

Ms Brenner said she approached all of Mattel’s properties with the same question, “How do we flip it a bit to the side while still respecting the integrity of the brand?” “

Mr Kreiz said he was not interested in doing ads for thinly disguised toys. In a change from the Mattel of the past, “we want to give our film partners creative freedom and allow them to do unconventional and exciting things,” he said. “Focus on creating great content and the rest will follow.”

He added, however, that Mattel had “not signed an agreement and disappeared”.

The message seems to resonate in Hollywood, allowing Mattel to attract A-plus talent. The “Barbie” team is one example. Tom Hanks agreed to play and produce an adaptation of Major Matt Mason, an astronaut minifigure presented by Mattel in 1966; Akiva Goldsman, the Oscar-winning writer of “A Beautiful Mind”, is working on the screenplay. Marc Forster (“World War Z”) directs and produces this film “Thomas & Friends”. And Daniel Kaluuya, who won an Oscar in April for his role in “Judas and the Black Messiah,” is involved in a Mattel film project based on Barney, the endlessly perky purple dinosaur.

Even Ms. Brenner has a sophisticated cinematic pedigree. She produced the AIDS drug drama “Dallas Buyers Club,” which received six Oscar nominations in 2014, including one for Best Picture. (He won three: actor, supporting actor, and makeup and hairstyle.) Prior to that, she was a senior executive at 20th Century Fox and Miramax.


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