The Barbie movie served as “a template” for Mattel, with 14 other live action movies in development and plans to expand into other verticals.
“What you saw around the Barbie movie was we believe a template, a case study, an opportunity to truly understand the value and appeal that our brands have, the cultural resonance, and importantly, our ability to execute these projects both creatively and commercially, and we hope to and expect to have more of those,” said Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz. “We’re not saying it will be as big or as successful as Barbie, but it will be the same approach, the same opportunity and the same capitalized methodology that we believe served us very well in this case.”
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Speaking at Goldman Sachs Communacopia and Technology conference Thursday, alongside Mattel CFO Anthony DiSilvestro, Kreiz outlined upcoming films involving Mattel IP, including the J.J. Abrams Hot Wheels film, a Matchbox car film from Skydance, a Major Matt Mason film starring Tom Hanks, Polly Pocket, developed by Lena Dunham and starring Lily Collins, Barney, in development with Daniel Kaluuya, and a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots movie with Vin Diesel.
The toy company, which also a growing television slate, including Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge on NBC and Pictionary on Fox, said even as the number of projects grow, Mattel will largely remain “capital light” in their approach to these kinds of partnerships, preferring to largely be a contributor of IP, rather than a larger participant.
However, Mattel is still benefiting greatly from the success of the Barbie movie, which has now become the top-grossing film of 2023, bringing in close to $1.4 billion worldwide. Mattel participates in this success as the rights owner and a producer, with the company’s profit participation scaling with the success of the film, said DiSilvestro. In 2023, the company expects direct movie participation and related toys and consumer products to result in gross billings of more than $125 million, he said. There’s also the expectations of continued profits in 2024 and beyond.
This is helping offset some of the softness that Mattel is seeing in the retail segment, as retailers struggle with elevated inventory levels and lower spending on toys. DiSilvestro added that he believes the company is now in a better spot, in terms of inventory levels, as it heads into the holiday season.
Regardless, Kreiz said the company is now able to explore other verticals, even outside of the film business, thanks to the Barbie movie.
“The market reaction to the success of the movie really opened up new opportunities for Mattel,” Kreiz said. “It changed the conversation for us with other partners, not just in the film business, but in other areas, and it really served to shine a light on the strategy and the strength of our portfolio.”
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