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The New MCU: Thanks To The Raging Success Of 'Barbie', It Appears We're Getting A Mattel Cinematic Universe

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[Variety]

"After dominating the box office and breaking records with Barbie, Mattel has officially arrived in Hollywood.

"In 2018, after a tumultuous period of declining toy sales, Mattel brought in a new CEO, businessman Ynon Kreiz, who had a vision to turn the storied toy company into an IP-driven machine, essentially creating a Mattel cinematic universe. Now, with the immense success of Barbie, the path is clear for Mattel to make whatever they want — and they already have a ton of projects in the works with A-list partners attached.

With dozens of children’s toys on their film slate, 14 Mattel properties are in active development, including Barney, Polly Pocket, Thomas and Friends and American Girl."

Part of what made Barbie so great is that it took a seemingly potentially awful idea, somehow pulled off a fresh, original take that was appealing to a worldwide audience, and executed it to near-perfection.

Now look. The Marvel Cinematic Universe had a hell of a run through Avengers: Endgame , and Barbie is only the first chapter in this reported Mattel series of interconnected movies. But I get weird vibes from all this. As you can see, Barbie writer-director Greta Gerwig doesn't feel compelled to make a sequel. It's almost like when something works in Hollywood, they immediately latch onto it, try to commercialize it, and just milk the IP for all it's worth and then some.

Like LOOK at all this shit:

I don't mean "shit" as in they're all going to be shit. That said, how many of these projects are going to have a killer Oscar-caliber writing tandem/power couple like Gerwig and Noah Baumbach on hand to pen the scripts? 

I'm holding out hope for Barney, because Daniel Kaluuya is attached as a producer and that dude doesn't miss from what I've seen. The Variety article at the top gives descriptions for all the Mattel projects in development. Barney is aiming to be an "A24-type" of dark thriller. Could be cool.

Other than Barney and a prospective second Barbie flick (if Gerwig returns), I guess you could stretch any sort of Magic 8 Ball premise into whatever genre you'd want. Wouldn't mind seeing the take on that. 

Giphy Images.

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Lena Dunham has apparently written a "great" script for Polly Pocket, where she'll direct star Lily Collins. That ain't my lane. I'll keep an open mind, because Barbie traditionally isn't my lane either.

The other notable movies mentioned are Major Matt Mason starring Tom Hanks as a 1960s astronaut. They could either update it and set it in today's world, or do a For All Mankind alternate history type of thing with it. Hanks' character would live and work on the moon if Mattel sticks with Mason's origins.

Finally, JJ Abrams is producing a Hot Wheels flick that'll be "grounded and gritty." Alrighty then. AND, here's a whopper: Vin Diesel attached to star in a Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots vehicle for Universal. Is there any other actor who'd be leading this? Not my cup of tea, but for what it is and for how much success Diesel has had at Universal with the Fast franchise, this has the makings of a profitable box office.

Another refreshing aspect of Barbie was that it felt like a complete, standalone story that didn't need to set up sequel bait. I think many of us consumers of big-budget tentpole fare are pretty over that by now. Or maybe Mattel can flip that perception on its head by somehow churning out hit after hit like Kevin Feige has at Marvel Studios. That is, until Marvel started legitimately, actually feeling like this (Spoilers for the She-Hulk finale):

So yeah, to close out here, I'll power rank my five favorite/most anticipated proposed Mattel Cinematic Universe by excitement level:

1. Barney

2. Barbie 2 (if it happens)

3. Magic 8 Ball

4. Major Matt Mason

5. UNO — bring on the board/card game adaptations! Many years ago, Ridley Scott was aboard to direct a Monopoly movie that's since gone through many iterations and is now going to star Kevin Hart. UNO is a fun game, too. So whatevs. Send it. 

Twitter @MattFitz_gerald/TikTok

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