July 17, 2024
Hot Wheels and Barney: Mattel plans for cinematic universe ‘big as Marvel and DC’

Hot Wheels and Barney: Mattel plans for cinematic universe ‘big as Marvel and DC’

Hot Wheels and Barney: Mattel plans for cinematic universe ‘big as Marvel and DC’

If one thing is clear this summer, it’s that Barbie is a hit.

Greta Gerwig’s film, the first to come out of Mattel’s film division, stars producer Margot Robbie as the Mattel doll and Ryan Gosling as her trusty companion Ken.

Since its release last week (21 July), Barbie has broken more than one box office record.

The movie took in $52m in the US and Canada over two consecutive weekdays, beating records previously held by The Dark Knight (2008) and Aquaman (2018).

Greta Gerwig has also broken a domestic box office record for a female director, catapulting her past both Anna Boden’s Captain Marvel and Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman.

Given the film’s huge success, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Mattel is looking to replicate that triumph with its other toys, games, and brands.

A recent article in The New Yorker suggested that a total of 45 movies are in development at Mattel, led by film producer Robbie Brenner.

Of those possible 45 titles, however, only 17 have been announced.


Polly Pocket

Emily in Paris star Lily Collins is set to star in a family-comedy adaptation of Polly Pocket, the popular Nineties toy. Girls star and writer Lena Dunham is attached as writer and director.

Brenner told Variety that a script for the family comedy has been completed.


In 2021, Variety reported that an action-heist comedy about the card game Uno was in development at Mattel, with rapper Lil Yachty circling the lead role.

The script was written by Marcy Kelly, who told The New Yorker that she was asked to pitch a script about UNO and ended up writing a heist movie set in Atlanta’s hip-hop scene.

Kelly said that while her first draft was heavy on the expletives, the next draft had only one F-word.

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Barney (left) and Daniel Kaluuya

(Getty Images)


Everyone’s favourite purple dinosaur is getting an edgy film courtesy of Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya. In 2019, it was reported that the actor would be producing the project through his company 59% Productions.

According to The New Yorker, the film will be a “surrealistic” movie in the style of indie production company A24. Brenner said, however, that he does not know whether that means it will necessarily be “darker”. The Mattel executive said it will focus on “identity and finding who you love and who feels alienated”.

Major Matt Mason

Announced in 2019 is Major Matt Mason, based on the Sixties astronaut action figure of the same name.

Variety reported that Tom Hanks will be playing the lead role, and that the script will be written by Akiva Goldsman and Michael Chabon.

Magic 8 Ball

Deadline reported in 2019 that Mattel was partnering with horror experts Blumhouse to create the horror movie. Last year, though, CNBC reported that Blumhouse was no longer attached to the project.

The New Yorker reports that the film will be a horror-comedy, written by Cocaine Bear screenwriter Jimmy Warden.

Brenner told Variety that the film will likely be a PG-13 thriller.

Masters of the Universe

As reported by Deadline, Mattel will be teaming up with Netflix for a live-action movie based on the famous He-Man franchise. In July, though, Variety reported that Netflix has dropped the project and Mattel is looking for a new buyer.

Head of Mattel Ynon Krez told The New Yorker he believes the film could spawn a franchise “as big as Marvel and DC”.

Hot Wheels

Last year, Variety reported that a movie based on the Hot Wheels toys is being produced by JJ Abrams production company, Bad Robot.

Abrams said the franchise will be “emotional and grounded and gritty”.

Christmas Balloon

Deadline has reported that Mattel is developing a live-action holiday movie Christmas Balloon (not based on any toy).

The family drama is based on a true story, first reported in 2018, and follows a young girl living in a Mexican border town who tries to send a Christmas list to Santa via a balloon. The list is found by a couple in Arizona grieving the loss of their child.

According to Deadline, Palm Springs writer Garbiela Revilla Lugo is writing the script.

Thomas the Tank Engine

Mattel is teaming up with director Marc Forster’s production company to turn Thomas the Tank Engine into a film that is a mix of live-action and animation.

Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em

Vin Diesel is reportedly starring in and producing a live-action film based on the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em robots. The publication reports that Rampage writer Ryan Engle will write the script, and the story will follow a father and son who bond with an advanced war machine.

American Girl

Deadline first reported that an American Girl movie was in the works in 2019 from Mattel and MGM.

According to The New Yorker, the script will be similar to the 2019 film Booksmart and Bill & Ted. Brenner later told Variety the movie is a family comedy.

(Getty Images)

Big Jim

The Seventies action figure Big Jim will be getting the movie treatment courtesy of Dan Mazer, who is developing the film. Mazer previously wrote Bridget Jones’s Baby, co-wrote Borat, and directed the latest Home Alone reboot.

Chatty Cathy and Betsy Wetsy

Last year, Variety reported that Jason Bateman’s production company will be making a film based on Mattel’s Chatty Cathy and Betsy Wetsy dolls.

No further details have been announced as to the plot of the film.


It’s not just Hot Wheels on the roster, The New Yorker reported that Mattel is working with Skydance to create a movie based on Matchbox.

Variety later reported that David Coggeshall is now the lead writer on the film.

(Hot Wheels )


In 2019, The Hollywood Reporter reported that MGM and Mattel were partnering to produce a live-action movie based on the 20th century stereoscope toy.


Deadline first reported that Mattel and Universal Pictures are rebooting Wishbone, a Nineties PBS TV series about an ordinary Jack Russell Terrier who dreams about being the protagonist in famous books.

Roy Parker will write the script and the film will be produced by two-time Oscar-winning producer Peter Farrelly.


You’ve heard of Gremlins, but what about Boglins. The New Yorker has reported that Mattel is turning the hand puppets known as Boglins into a new movie.

Reportedly, there are already numerous “millennial” directors and screenwriters who want to work on the forthcoming film.

Kevin McKeon, the vice president of Mattel films, said: “We’re thinking Gremlins-ish, but with a twist.”

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