Mattel wants to be like Marvel: Barbie is his strong card to star in movies

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For 62 years, Barbie has been the hardest-working woman in the toy aisle, thanks to her endless variety of outfits and accessories; lately, even his complexion and skin color have changed as he moves from one profession to another. Astrophysicist Barbie. The dancing Barbie. Farmer Barbie. Firefighter Barbie.

But she has never gone through that great metamorphosis: the Barbie protagonist of an acted movie.

Time and time again, her corporate masters at Mattel have teamed up with Hollywood studios to make a big-budget movie, hoping to land a fresh source of income while bringing new relevance to Barbie. Time and again, those efforts have been unsuccessful, in part because Mattel has wanted to control the creative process in detail, which has put off filmmakers. (Do you want Barbie to do what?). Financial turmoil and executive turnover at Mattel have not helped either.

Something similar has happened with other Mattel brands, such as Hot Wheels, American Girl and Masters of the Universe, which is humiliating when you consider the success that other toy companies have had in Hollywood, where they love a concept the most. for a movie that already has its own fan base.

In 2014, the ingenious “The Great LEGO Adventure” earned nearly $ 500 million at the worldwide box office for Warner Bros. and the LEGO Group, resulting in a sequel and two spin-offs. Paramount Pictures and Hasbro have turned the Transformers doll line into a $ 5 billion big screen franchise over the past 14 years; A seventh installment is on the way and it will undoubtedly shine on Hasbro as previous feature films have done, and as a consequence its share price will rise and demand for toys will be boosted.

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Because a whopping like this is at stake, Mattel has stuck to its Hollywood dream. “There is ‘Fast and Furious 9’ and Hot Wheels zero,” said Ynon Kreiz, Mattel’s more or less recent CEO, referring to the Universal Studios modified car franchise, which has raked in $ 6.3 billion since 2001. “That’s going to change.”

There are portents, 13, that this time Mattel is not playing.

Under Kreiz, who has overseen a shocking financial turnaround at the company since he became the fourth CEO in four years beyond 2018, Mattel has taken steps to turn its toys into full-fledged entertainment brands. He now has 12 films standing with various studios, including “Barbie,” an adventure acted with Margot Robbie (“Yo Tonya”) in the starring role and directed by Oscar-nominated Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”). Robbie, who is also one of the producers, in an email described the big-budget film as one that is aimed “at fans and skeptics alike,” a filmmaking initiative that will be “very entertaining, but also completely amazing.”

The script, written by Gerwig and Noah Baumbach (“Marriage Story”), even pokes fun at Barbie and Ken, her plastic crush.

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