Skip to main content

Mattel wants to be the new Marvel

After the record-breaking success of Greta Gerwig's Barbie, the toy company wants to put more IPs on the big screen

Image credit: Warner Bros

It's official: the big pink 'B' stands for 'billion.'

Barbie, the Greta Gerwig-directed, Margot Robbie-starring, Ryan Gosling-glamorizing hit of the summer just crossed the billion dollar mark at the global box office, and producer Mattel is thrilled. So thrilled, in fact, that it appears they're ready to change the purpose of their company. Get ready, toy fans, your favorite company might just be getting a Marvel-style makeover.

To understand what that means, we've got to start by looking at Mattel's current CEO, Ynon Kreiz. Kreiz, who is very different than the Mattel CEO played by Will Ferrell in the Barbie film, came to the company in 2018 amidst some major changes. The fourth CEO in just four years, Kreiz arrived with the vision of turning Mattel properties into movies.

"We look at Marvel as a very good analogy," Kreiz told TIME Magazine in 2022. "That is directionally what we believe we can achieve in terms of the strength, appeal and built-in fan base of our franchises."

Over a year and a half later, Kreiz's comparison looks pretty darn accurate. In an interview with Vanity Fair after Barbie's jaw-dropping $155 million opening weekend, Kreiz touted the film's immediate success as proof that Mattel has a big future in movies.

"It’s a milestone for Mattel in terms of releasing our first theatrical release and really seeing it as a showcase for what we mean when we say we’re becoming an IP company," says the CEO. "It’s a showcase for the strength of our brands, and how we collaborate with creative talent and major studios to create cultural events."

So just what does a Marvel-esque future look like for Mattel? Well, with the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, it's impossible to nail down an exact picture, but we do have some starting ideas. According to the same Vanity Fair article just mentioned, there are 14 (!!) movies based on Mattel IPs in some stage of development, and with several notable examples of Kreiz's "creative talent" attached. Those include J.J. Abrams's Hot Wheels, Lena Dunham's Polly Pocket, and Tom Hanks's Major Matt Mason (That's an astronaut toy, by the way. Don't worry, I hadn't heard of it either.)

With the media landscape in the constant state of flux that it has been in, it's impossible to guess at how successful a Marvel-style Mattel filmography would be. For now, we can only sit and speculate which IP could bring the toy company its next billion dollars.

And, of course, which prestige biopic will be released same-day.

There's a joker in the Barbie film about her creator getting in trouble with the IRS. It's funny because it's true.

Featured events