Big screen beckons for Mattel Creations

Billy Langsworthy

By Billy Langsworthy

May 13th 2016 at 10:14AM
UPDATED May 16th 2016 at 10:40AM
Big screen beckons for Mattel Creations

The new division has a slate spanning live-action movies, video games, TV shows based on the American Girl and Barbie brands, as well as feature-length specials for Fireman Sam, Thomas & Friends and Bob the Builder.

Mattel’s new content creation division, Mattel Creations, is making a serious play for big screen success.

While LEGO and Hasbro Studios have enjoyed box office success with the likes of The LEGO Movie and the Transformers franchise, Mattel has largely kept its properties out of cinemas, until now.

Mattel’s previous film production arm, Playground Productions, had Barbie, Monster High and Masters of the Universe films in development before being swallowed by the Mattel Creations umbrella, but plans to bring IP to the big screen remain intact.

“We definitely have plans to be in the theatrical space,” Christopher Keenan, senior vice president, global content and executive producer at Mattel Creations, told Licensing.biz.

“There are various deals with studios around theatrical developments for a couple of our brands. The plan, without mentioning any specific titles, is to move in that direction with a variety of our brands.

“Playground Productions, the HIT content creation team and the American Girl content creation team have all come together into one team and we’re benefitting from the expertise and technical skill of all three teams under one banner, and we’re partnering with the best in class partners, whether it’s digital, episodic animation, television or live action.

“We’re setting up each project in a unique way so our involvement, creatively or otherwise, will vary, title to title.”

The first projects launched under Mattel Creations are TV shows WellieWishers (pictured above), from the American Girl brand, and Dreamtopia, a Barbie spin-off, but Keenan believes Mattel’s wider portfolio is ripe for adaptations.

Keenan added: “In terms of which properties rise to the top, those that have character at the heart of the product tend to be more ripe for development or production, than those that are object or game-based without storytelling behind them. Those need a bit more heavy lifting.

“Most recently, we’ve also seen a lot of nostalgia plays where people are responding to IP and characters that have been around. We’re finding that those properties are now ripe for resurgence.”

Also announced from Mattel Creations are TV specials Bob the Builder: Mega Machines, Fireman Sam: Alien Alert and Thomas & Friends: The Great Race.