Barbie is just the first toy to star in Mattel’s cinematic universe

After the massive success of Barbie, Mattel has its sights set on something much bigger: The Mattel Cinematic Universe.

From Barbie to Hot Wheels, Mattel has enough toys at its disposal to entertain children, and bring nostalgia to adults, all over the world.

So it’s no surprise the brand is ready to leverage this power with Hollywood to make the most out of its intellectual property.

In 2018, Mattel was stuck in a rut, with declining toy sales. Enter new CEO Ynon Kreiz.

Before joining Mattel, Mr Kreiz was the chairman and CEO of Maker Studios, which specialised in short-term video content and was acquired by The Walt Disney Company in 2014.

Before Maker Studios, he was the CEO and chairman of Endemol Group, the world’s largest independent television production company, which produces some of the world’s biggest franchises.

Dating back to the 1970s, Mattel had teamed up with several studios and producers to push out content.

In 2013, it launched Playground Productions, which was also sometimes referred to as Mattel PGP.

In September 2018, just months after Mr Kreiz secured the top position at the company, Mattel Films was born. It was seen as a replacement for Mattel PGP.

With Mr Kreiz at the helm, Mattel Films has announced several live-action pictures, partnering with major studios. The first was Greta Gerwig’s Barbie.

Speaking to Variety before Barbie‘s release, Mr Kreiz expressed hope that the famous doll and Gerwig’s flick could spawn sequels in the future.

“At the outset, we’re not saying, ‘OK, let’s think already about movie two and three’,” he said.

“Let’s get the first one right and make that a success. 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.”

However, Gerwig has reportedly not expressed interest in creating another Barbie movie just yet.

The Mattel Cinematic Universe

Variety was able to reveal some details of the 14 films Mattel is setting out to make.

Mattel will work with several studios to pump out the movies and will include some of Hollywood’s biggest names, including Tom Hanks, Lily Collins, Daniel Kaluuya and Vin Diesel.

Some films were announced a few years ago and production is under way. All centre around the brand’s toys, with the exception of one true story.

Barney movie

One of the more obscure projects is about the beloved, big, purple dinosaur, Barney.

It will be produced by Kaluuya, who has won several awards and starred in Get Out and Black Panther.

According to The Guardian, Mattel expressed its intention of working with Kaluuya on the Barney film in 2019.

Robbie Brenner, who produced Barbie and works for Mattel films, told Variety the Barney movie won’t necessarily be darker, but will be “unique”.

The film will apparently be about “identity and finding who you love and who feels alienated”.

Plenty of doll movies

Mattel also sourced inspiration from another line of its dolls with the upcoming Polly Pocket movie.

Collins stars in the film, which will be directed and written by Lena Dunham.

As a child who was obsessed with Polly Pockets, it’s a real dream come true to announce this project!” Collins said, back when the film was announced.

In the film, a young girl and a pocket-sized woman become friends, Variety reported in 2021.

There’s also an American Girl doll movie in the works and the film is being pitched as a family comedy. There hasn’t been any casting announcement related to the project yet.

Cars, trains and Vin Diesel

JJ Abrams will produce a Hot Wheels flick, which he said will be “grounded and gritty”.

Brenner promised the film will have characters people can relate to.

“Look at any JJ Abrams movie. All of his movies have an incredible story and incredible characters,” she said.

Matchbox cars will also get their own flick, which will be written by David Coggeshall.

Mattel will release a Hot Wheels movie

Mattel and JJ Abrams are onboard for a Hot Wheels movie.

Fast and Furious actor Vin Diesel will star in a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots film.

Ryan Engle’s script for the table-top, red and blue robot game is still being written and Universal will be the studio behind the film.

“To take the classic Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em game, with Mattel as my partner, and align it with the kind of world building, franchise-making success we have had with Universal, is truly exciting,” Diesel said.

Thomas and Friends, featuring Thomas the Tank Engine, will be getting a movie too and it will be directed by Marc Forster, with Variety describing it as a “fantasy” flick.

Magic 8 ball, UNO, 1980s nostalgia and ’90s revival

The Magic 8 ball will be turned into a “thriller” while UNO cards will also get its own film, however details are pretty limited for both projects.

Mattel will also be making a film about the View-Master, the device that allows people to click through 3D images. Variety said it will be an adventure film based on the toy.

Peter Farrelly will write the script for a Wishbone project.

Wishbone was a PBS program about a Jack Russell terrier that aired during the 1990s.

Tom Hanks an action figure

Variety reported that Tom Hanks will be starring in a movie about Mattel’s action figure, Major Matt Mason.

Children were able to explore the Moon’s surface with Major Matt Mason’s Space Crawler, use his Space Sled and soar with his Jet Propulsion Pack.

The action figures were introduced in the 1960s and Hanks will star as the action figure.

Pictured is Major Matt Mason a Mattel action figure

Tom Hanks will play Major Matt Mason, a Mattel action figure.

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