It’s Hollywood’s Barbie Moment (And She’s Bringing Her Friends)

for 62 years, barbie The hardest-working woman in the toy aisle has been women, gliding from one career to another—and, more recently, changing body shapes and skin tones—and, more recently. Astrophysicist Barbie. Ballerina Barbie. Chicken Farmer Barbie. Firefighter Barbie.

But she never made the final transformation: Barbie, the live-action movie star.

Over and over again, his corporate overlord here mantel is In association with Hollywood Studios To make a big-budget film in hopes of creating a new revenue stream while giving Barbie new relevance. Over and over again, nothing has come to the fore, as Mattel tries to micromanage the creative process while alienating the filmmakers. (You want Barbie to do What?) The financial turmoil and executive business at Mattel haven’t helped.

A similar situation has played out with other Mattel brands, including Hot Wheels, American Girl and Masters of the Universe — a disgrace given the success other toy companies have had in Hollywood, which loves nothing more than a movie concept with a built-in fan base.

Inventive “Lego Movie” 2014 grossed nearly $500 million at the global box office for Warner Bros. and The Lego Group, resulting in A sequel and two byproducts. Paramount Pictures and Hasbro have transformed the Transformers action-figure line into a $5 billion big-screen franchise over the past 14 years; A seventh installment is forthcoming and will undoubtedly provide the same halo for Hasbro as the previous films, driving up the company’s share price and demand for turbocharging Transformers toys.

With that kind of money on the line, Mattel has stuck to its Hollywood dream. “‘Fast & Furious 9’ and Hot Wheels have zero,” Mattel’s new CEO Yvonne Krause said in reference to Universal hot-rod film franchise, which has earned $6.3 billion worldwide since 2001. “It’s about to change.”

There are signs — 13 of them — that Mattel isn’t playing this time around.

Craze, who has overseen a surprising financial turnaround at the company since becoming the company’s fourth chief executive in four years in 2018, Mattel has shifted its toys from becoming full-fledged entertainment brands. It now has 13 films in the works with various studio partners, including “Barbie,” a live-action adventure starring Margot Robbie (“I, Tonya”) and directed by the Oscar-nominated Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”). Ms Robbie, who is also one of the producers, described the big-budget film in an email as “for both fans and skeptics”, a theatrical effort that would be “really amusing but also utterly surprising. “

The screenplay by Ms. Gerwig and Noah Baumbach (“Marriage Story”) even makes fun of Barbie and Ken, their plastic lover.

Like, what happened to their genitals?

Toby Emmerich, President of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, said, “I’m excited about this film because it’s emotional and touches your heart and honors the legacy that reflects our current society and culture – and the toys to sell. Not designed.” , where “Barbie” is tipped for a 2023 theatrical release.

Dozens of other films in Mattel’s pipeline include a live-action Hot Wheels spectacle; a horror film based on fortunetelling magic 8 ball; a wide audience Thomas the Tank Engine film that combines animation and live action; and, in partnership with Sony Pictures Entertainment, a big-screen Masters of the Universe adventure about the universe that includes He-Man and his superhero sister, She-Ra.

Mattel, Universal and Vin Diesel are collaborating on a live-action film Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, a tabletop game introduced in 1966. Lena Dunham (HBO’s “Girls”) is directing and writing a live-action family comedy based on Mattel. Polly Pocket Line of micro dolls. Lily Collins (“Emily in Paris”) will play and produce the title role; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is the distribution and financing partner.

“Young women need smart, playful films that speak to them without grace,” said Ms. Dunham.

by Mattel. Films based on view master, american girl and United Nations organisation, the ubiquitous card game. (If you think an Uno movie sounds like a satirical title from The Onion, consider this: There are non-Mattel movies in development in Hollywood that are based on Play-Doh and Peeps, Easter Candy.)

Mattel’s all-or-nothing film projects could connect with audiences—if they were a total success. This is the nature of Hollywood Casino.

“Familiarizing yourself with a toy or character is a start, but no movie makes it through without clever character and story development,” said David A. Gross, who runs Franchise Entertainment Research, a movie consultancy.

Toys have a surprisingly strong track record as film fodder. Other hits include the 2016 animated musical “Trolls” and “Ouija” based on the wild-haired doll, which cost $5 million in 2014 and collected $104 million worldwide. (Pixar didn’t base “Toy Story” on a toy, but it has filled the franchise with classics, including barbie.) But there has also been a wipeout of the genre, notably “warship“, which is based on the Universal and Hasbro board game and cost over $300 million to make and bring to market. It reached $25 million in North American ticket sales in 2012.

The “Uglydolls” was a smaller scale adapted from a line of plush toys box office disaster For STX Films in 2019. Mattel suffered an injury only in 2016, when Max Steel, a modest-budget action figure film, hit almost empty theaters. received it zero percent positive score On Rotten Tomatoes, the review-aggregation site.

“Unless you can make something that feels really sticky and really interesting and really authentic, there’s no point in doing it,” said Robbie Brenner, head of Mattel Films, which created in 2018. (Matel’s previous film division, Playground Productions, was launched in 2013 and folded in 2016.)

Ms Brenner said she had approached all of Mattel’s assets with the same question: “How can we flip this a bit while still respecting the integrity of the brand?”

Mr Kreuz said he has no interest in creating ads for thin-set toys. In a change from Mattel of the past, “we want to give creative freedom to our filmmaking partners and enable them to do unconventional and exciting things,” he said. “Focus on creating great content and the rest will follow.”

However, he added that Mattel “did not sign the deal and disappeared.”

The message seems to resonate in Hollywood, allowing Mattel to attract A-plus talent. The “Barbie” team is an example. Tom Hanks has agreed to star in and produce an adaptation of Major Matt Mason, an astronaut action figure introduced by Mattel in 1966; Oscar-winning author of “A Beautiful Mind” Akiva Goldsman is working on the screenplay. Mark Forster (“World War Z”) is directing and producing that “Thomas and Friends” film. and Daniel Kaluya, who won an Oscar in April for his role in “Judas and the Black Messiah,” is attached to the Mattel film project based on Barney, the ultimately perky purple dinosaur.

Even Ms. Brenner has a sophisticated film pedigree. She produced the AIDS-drug drama “Dallas Buyers Club”, which received six Oscar nominations in 2014, including one for Best Picture. (It won three: Actor, Supporting Actor, and Makeup and Hairstyling.) Prior to this, she was a senior executive at 20th Century Fox and Miramax.

Mattel’s momentum in Hollywood has resulted, in part, as a result of a turnaround in the company as a whole. According to Richard Dixon, Mattel’s president and chief operating officer, Mattel has fixed many of its core problems, making it less risk-averse.

“Five years ago, the foundations on which our brands were sitting were not strong enough,” Mr. Dixon said.

When Mr Krause arrived in April 2018, the toymaker was battling gut punches, some self-inflicted. It lost its license to Disney’s Charming Princesses toys to Hasbro. An important retail partner, Toys “R” Us, was evaporated in the cloud of bankruptcy. Barbie was dismissed as sly and non-inclusive by millennial parents. And some of Mattel’s other stars — American Girl, the glam Monster High crew — were adamant, unsure how to capture the attention of a generation of kids running iPads.

Total revenue fell to $4.5 billion in 2018, from $6.5 billion in 2013, and a loss of $533 million in profit from more than $900 million in 2013.

Mr Krause stabilized Mattel by restructuring its supply chain and reducing costs by $1 billion over three years, closing factories and laying off more than 2,000 non-manufacturing workers. At the same time, the long-standing modernization plan for Barbie began to pay off in a big way. She now comes with about 150 different body shapes, skin tones and hairstyles; Wheelchair Barbie was such a smashing success last year that Wheelchair Ken arrived only recently.

In 2020, with parents looking for ways to keep kids entertained at home during the pandemic, Mattel sold more than 100 Barbie dolls a minute, Mr Dixon said. (He was endorsed by Julie Lenet, toy industry consultant for the NPD Group.)

Last year’s total revenue was $4.6 billion, and Mattel made a profit of $127 million. In the first quarter of 2021, sales grew 47 percent from a year earlier, the company’s highest growth rate in at least 25 years. Mattel’s stock price has climbed 52 percent since Mr. Craze took over.

Based in El Segundo, Calif., Mattel is now turning to the next phase of Mr. Craze’s growth plan. With a massive inventory of intellectual property, Mattel wants to be like Marvel, which started as a comics company and turned into a Hollywood superpower.

“In the mid to long term, we should become a player in film, television, digital gaming, live events, consumer products, music and digital media,” said Mr.

and by player he means player. For example, Mattel has a long history in direct-to-DVD animated films, but its television division, run by Fred Sauley, is working to capitalize on the streaming boom. The company is making one or two Barbie cartoons a year for Netflix, an arrangement that is expected to continue. “Masters of the Universe: Revelation“,” an animated series from filmmaker Kevin Smith (“Clerk”), arrives on Netflix on July 23.

In total, Mr. Souli has 18 shows in production, including a new “Thomas and Friends” and a new incarnation of “Monster High”. An additional 24 are in development.

“We’re planting a lot of seeds,” said Mr. Souli, “and we’re about to see the results.”

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