Mattel plans Daniel Kaluuya-led Barney film and plenty more

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An adult-focused take on the friendly, purple dinosaur Barney? That’s just one of the projects Mattel has lined up after this month’s Barbie. 

Mattel, it seems, has a plan. The toy company has a film production named Mattel Films and it looks like the folks over there have been rather busy. The New Yorker did a profile piece on the production company and amid all kinds of interesting nuggets, it is revealed that Mattel Films have no less than 45 projects in some kind of development. Oh, it’s also got Hot Wheels cars that are life-size too, a huge Castle Grayskull and framed pictures of Barbie as the first woman in space.

But back to the projects. Leading the pack is a take on Barney, the friendly purple Dinosaur. That project has no less than Daniel Kaluuya attached to it. It’s said to be an A24-style adult-focused, surrealist take on the material in the style of Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze.

Says Mattel Films executive, Kevin McKeon: “We’re leaning into the millennial angst of the property rather than fine-tuning this for kids. It’s really a play for adults. Not that it’s R-rated, but it’ll focus on some of the trials and tribulations of being 30-something, growing up with Barney – just the level of disenchantment within the generation”.

He added that it would be so daring of us, and really underscore that we’re here to make art.”

We have to admit, it does sound interesting. It would be even more interesting if they actually got Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze on board to join Kaluuya who clearly sees something of artistic value in the project.

Other in-development projects name-checked by the piece include American Girl, Major Matt Mason, Matchbox, Masters of the Universe, Polly Pocket, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, Uno, View-Master. There’s also the Hot Wheels movie, which J.J. Abrams has been attached to for some time now.

The box-office performance of Barbie will go a long way to determining the viability of these projects. Great Gerwig’s take on the iconic doll releases on the 21st of July. Some blockbuster films are having a tricky tim at the box office this summer and Barbie has to contend with competition from Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer too. Should all turn out as planned for Mattel, we’ll likely hear more of its plans for cinematic domination in the months to come.

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