Live-action movies inspired by toys and action figures have been hot properties in Hollywood for decades, and most recently found blockbuster success with Michael Bay's Transformers franchise, launching new products for the iconic brand's owner, Hasbro. And while Hasbro briefly lost its mojo when the board game-inspired Battleship sunk at the box office, the company has found success with moderate hits in its G.I. Joe and Ouija movies.
Hasbro's chief action-figure movie competitor, Mattel, on the other hand, has gotten off to a shaky start in the live-action movie realm. Max Steel was a financial and critical bust last year – the film grossed only $3.8 million domestically and scored an embarrassing zero percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes – and now comes the news that the star of its highly anticipated Barbie movie, Amy Schumer, has left the project.
According to Variety, Schumer issued a statement Thursday about her departure from the film, citing her busy schedule:
“Sadly, I’m no longer able to commit to Barbie due to scheduling conflicts. The film has so much promise, and Sony and Mattel have been great partners. I’m bummed, but look forward to seeing Barbie on the big screen.”
Mattel and its production partner, Sony Pictures, will apparently have to find a replacement fast. According to the report, the film was scheduled to go into production June 23 for a June 29, 2018, release. The studio needs to stick that date, insiders tell Variety, because "Mattel already has merchandise and product cycles in motion – moving the production to accommodate Schumer would put on a strain on other partners on the film."
Sony, meanwhile, issued a statement in reaction to Schumer's decision:
"We respect and support Amy's decision. We look forward to bringing Barbie to the world and sharing updates on casting and filmmakers soon.”
Schumer's sudden departure from the Barbie movie is no doubt a huge blow for Sony. The film, which is reportedly in the vein of Big, Splash, and Enchanted, is about the "main character getting kicked out of Barbieland for not being perfect enough and lands in a real-world adventure." The description of the plot sounds like something Schumer would have been suited for, but with Mattel involved, it's quite likely her risque brand of material never would have made the cut.
Only time will tell whether Schumer is missing an opportunity by passing up what looks to be a family-friendly film, and broadening her audience base in the process. She has at a couple more chances this year, though, with the June comedy Snatched, opposite Goldie Hawn, and the drama Thank You for Your Service, set for October.