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As Barbie Burns Up Theaters, Mattel Films Takes a Victory Lap and Unveils Its Movie Slate Based on Iconic Toys

With Barbie burning up theaters with the biggest opening weekend of the year, Mattel Films boss Robbie Brenner is taking a well-deserved victory lap while promising more hits to come based on Mattel’s iconic toy brands.

Working with the support of Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz, who long envisioned a Mattel Cinematic Universe of sorts, Brenner has been empowered to create a slate of 14 projects, including Barney from producer Daniel Kaluuya; Polly Pocket from director Lena Dunham; and Hot Wheels from producer J.J. Abrams.

While Mattel will almost certainly partner with Warner Bros. on additional Barbie movies and spinoffs — “It’s a very rich universe,” Kreiz told Variety — director Greta Gerwig isn’t thinking about her next movie right now, as she’d prefer to bask in the success of the one currently in theaters, where it has grossed an astounding $380 million worldwide in less than a week.

“Successful movies lend themselves to more movies. Our ambition is to create film franchises,” added Kreiz.

“Everybody hopes that when you create a movie that there is going to be a franchise. That’s the hope — that it goes on and on and it’s a gift that keeps giving. But, in this day and age, you just want to get the first one right,” noted Brenner.

With that in mind, here are some of the “first ones” that Brenner is currently working on at Mattel Films.

Barney
Barney image via Mattel

BARNEY

Daniel Kaluuya is producing this “off-kilter,” A24-style movie about the purple dinosaur, which will explore themes of identity while aiming for the high-minded tone of Spike Jonze‘s acclaimed films Being John Malkovich and Adaptation.

POLLY POCKET

Lena Dunham is set to direct this family comedy starring Lily Collins as the pint-sized doll. The project is in the works at MGM, which has a finished script that Brenner says is “great.”

HOT WHEELS

J.J. Abrams is producing this car movie for Warner Bros. based on the best-selling toy in the world.

ROCK ‘EM SOCK ‘EM ROBOTS

Vin Diesel is set to star in this action movie, which Ryan Engle is writing for Universal.

AMERICAN GIRL

Mattel is developing a family comedy based on the world of its popular dolls.

MAGIC 8 BALL

A PG-13 thriller featuring the titular toy at its center? Signs point to yes…

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE

Mattel is shopping for a new buyer for this feature project after Netflix dropped it despite spending at least $30 million developing a movie that the toy company believes has franchise potential. Kyle Allen and the Nee brothers remain attached to star and direct, respectively, but we’ll see if those attachments hold should this project find a new home.

MAJOR MATT MASON

Tom Hanks is set to play the title character, an astronaut who lives and works on the moon. Mattel’s action figure was popular in the ’60s, and Akiva Goldsman is working on the script with Michael Chabon.

MATCHBOX

David Coggeshall is writing an action movie for Skydance based on the toy cars that every kid just had to have back in the ’50s.

Thomas and Friends
Thomas and Friends image via Mattel

THOMAS & FRIENDS

Marc Forster (World War Z) is attached to direct a fantasy movie based on the animated children’s series about the talking train.

UNO

Marcy Kelly is writing a script based on the popular card game, as Mattel believes this movie has the potential to open “numero uno” at the box office.

VIEW MASTER
Mattel is developing an adventure movie based on the classic toy that was invented in 1939 and has captivated children’s imaginations for decades.

WISHBONE

Peter Farrelly is producing a feature adaptation of the popular PBS series from the ’90s about the beloved Jack Russell terrier. The family-friendly adventure comedy is in the works at Universal.

CHRISTMAS BALLOON

This isn’t based on an actual toy, but it is based on a true story, as producer Chris Lemos has set writer Gabby Lugo to pen a family drama about the time that Mattel donated toys in an effort to help make a young girl’s dream come true after she tied her Christmas list to a balloon that was found by a grieving couple.

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