As you may have heard, Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, which was released a week ago, has already grossed more than half a billion dollars. Over breakfast, my wife remarked that Hollywood executives should take the hint and start making more smart, original movies aimed at women. But a couple hours later, she sent me a link to this Variety article suggesting the execs are going with a very different takeaway:
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… 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.”
If you’re familiar with the origin stories of any of my novels, you know I’m a big fan of the creative non sequitur. But even by my standards, “Barbie‘s success means there’s a market for an UNO movie” seems like a stretch.
Lisa and I did have fun going through the list of toy-related projects and speculating about which, if any, might actually make good films. If I were forced to bet, I’d put my money on Polly Pocket, not because it’s another doll movie but because Lena Dunham is attached as both writer and director, and she knows how to tell a story. J.J. Abrams’ Hot Wheels will no doubt look great and have plenty of lens flares, but without knowing the screenwriter’s name I can’t make a better prediction. Magic 8 Ball might work as a Blumhouse microbudget horror flick, but I doubt Mattel would sign off on that. As for the UNO movie, that would be my pick for least promising idea if the list didn’t also include View-Master.
That said, I do love a challenge, and I have a knack for making oddball story concepts work. So once the WGA strike is settled, if Mattel wants to hire me to write a treatment for a Scrabble trilogy, I’d be happy to take the call.