Mattel has announced the launch of Mattel Films - a division that will seek to develop and produce films based on the company's iconic brands of toys. The company, known largely for producing toys such as Barbie, Hot Wheels, and Thomas and Friends, seeks to take on the film market, in which its rival, Hasbro, has seen much success.
This is not the toy company's first attempt at the film industry. Mattel has had several film projects developed within their Playground Productions division - the largest of which was 2016's Max Steel. Although Max Steel did not see success critically or commercially, Mattel has sought to continue their foray into blockbuster filmmaking. Earlier this year, the company announced that J.J. Abrams had joined them in a project to bring The Beastlies to the big screen. Mattel has also been working with Sony on a Barbie movie starring Anne Hathaway, which is set to be released in 2020. Now it appears the company is taking another step in their filmmaking efforts.
Deadline reports that Mattel Films will be Mattel's new movie production division. The division will be overseen by its executive producer Robbie Brenner, who produced the Oscar-nominated Dallas Buyers Club. Speaking on this announcement, Mattel's CEO and chairman, Ynon Kreiz, said:
"Mattel is home to one of the world’s greatest portfolios of beloved franchises, and the creation of Mattel Films will allow us to unlock significant value across our IP. Robbie is a gifted storyteller and a highly respected filmmaker with deep relationships in entertainment. She is the perfect leader to bring our celebrated brands to life."
Brenner also shared in the excitement, saying, "There are so many stories to be told and so many imaginations to be captured by these iconic brands, and I look forward to working with Ynon and his team to do so." As executive producer, Brenner will report to Kreiz.
Brenner has had a successful career producing a variety of films. Her latest film, Burden, won the Audience Award at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, and she has also overseen production of many other popular films, such as The Fighter, Mirror, Mirror, and Safe Haven. She is also a partner at The Firm - a film and TV production company - and is the current president of its film division. Adding executive producer to Mattel Films to the list will simply add more variety to an already diverse resume for the film executive.
While Brenner's presence in the leadership of Mattel Films appears to be a strong first step for the division, Mattel still has quite a bit of ground to cover in the wake of their competitor, Hasbro. With the massive success of the Transformers franchise alone - not to mention other properties such as G.I. Joe and Ouija - Hasbro has dominated in their efforts to bring toys to life as blockbusters. However, with the number of sequels Hasbro is churning out from the same properties, as well as the popularity of another toy-based franchise in The Lego Movie and its spin-offs, the time may be right for Mattel to see some major film success.