Collage of Mattel Toys that will soon be movies

The Only Downside to ‘Barbie’s Success Is the Inevitability of the Mattel Cinematic Universe

Barbie arrived in theaters on July 21, 2023, and has managed to live up to the enormous amount of hype that its advertising stirred up. In addition to receiving positive reviews, Barbie had a record-breaking opening weekend at the box office, and interest in the Greta Gerwig film shows no signs of waning anytime soon.

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While the film is based on the toy line by Mattel and includes countless fun Mattel Easter eggs, Barbie has also been receiving attention for its themes. It’s more than entertainment and nostalgia, boldly tackling many important topics about feminism, male fragility, and body positivity. What Barbie‘s success really seems to indicate is that audiences want more female-focused films. However, it’s anticipated that many will miss this obvious point and will instead draw the conclusion that people just want live-action movies based on toys. Soon, every toy imaginable, from Hot Wheels to Furby to the Cabbage Patch Kids, will suddenly have its own live-action film.

This isn’t an exaggeration, as Mattel alone reportedly has 45 mostly toy-based films in development, 17 of which are known. As a result, we very well could have a Mattel Cinematic Universe on our hands soon. Here’s every confirmed upcoming Mattel film that may be a part of its future cinematic universe.

American Girl

American Girl Dolls 35th Anniversary Collection
(American Girl)

In 2019, Variety reported that Mattel and MGM were partnering to create a live-action American Girl movie. This isn’t the first time American Girl dolls have appeared in live action, as an entire film series was made to adapt several of the dolls’ stories. Kit Kittredge: An American Girl even received a theatrical release, while the rest were released as TV films or direct-to-DVD. No writers or producers are attached to the film yet.

Barney and Friends

A plush Barney the dinosaur
(James Keyser/Getty Images)

Daniel Kaluuya and Mattell are collaborating to bring audiences a live-action Barney film. Kaluuya has been attached to the film for three years and will both star in and produce it. It has been confirmed that the film is still in development, with Beef creator Lee Sung Jin attached to write the screenplay. Mattel Films Executive Producer Robbie Brenner promises that the film will be off-kilter and feature adult themes examining the meaning of Barney’s hit song, “I Love You, You Love Me.”

Big Jim

A Big Jim live-action film is currently in the works, with Borat co-writer Dan Mazer set to direct. Big Jim is a line of action figures from Mattel, with the original released in 1972 as a secret agent inspired by G.I. Joe.

Boglins

Toy Boglin King Dwork from Mattel
(Amazon/Mattel, Inc)

Mattel’s rather terrifying Goblin-themed hand-puppets known as Boglins are also getting a live-action film. Just like the toys, the film will be inspired by the horror-comedy Gremlins but will feature a unique twist on the story. It’s being planned as a Halloween film but isn’t expected to be too scary, as none of the Mattel films on this list will be rated R.

Chatty Cathy and Betsy Wetsy

Jason Bateman as Marty Byrde in Ozark
(Netflix)

Aggregate Films, the production company founded by Jason Bateman, is developing a Chatty Cathy and Betsy Wetsy film. Chatty Cathy was a pull-string doll created in the 1960s that resembled a toddler and could say 11 different phrases. Meanwhile, Betsy Wetsy was a strange toy released in the 1930s that would wet itself if water was poured into its mouth, necessitating a diaper change.

Christmas Balloon

Pascal Lamorisse in The Red Balloon
(Lopert Pictures)

Mattel is also developing a film called Christmas Balloon, inspired by a true story involving the toy company. Gabriel Revilla Lugo will write the live-action family drama. It will tell the true story of a little girl named Dáyami, who tries to send a Christmas list to Santa via balloon. The list is found by a couple in Arizona who are grieving the loss of their child, and they work with Mattel to fulfill Dáyami’s Christmas list.

Hot Wheels

A shot from the Hot Wheels Unleashed video game
(Milestone)

Mattel is collaborating with Warner Bros. and J.J. Abrams to develop the first live-action Hot Wheels movie. The toy car line from Mattel has had animated and video game adaptations, but a live-action film has floundered in developmental hell for over two decades. Mattel and Abrams have confirmed it is finally moving forward with Dalton Leeb and Nicholas Jacobson-Larson writing. Abrams has described the film as “emotional and grounded and gritty.”

Magic 8 Ball

James Marsden with an 8 Ball in Interstate 60
(Samuel Goldwyn Films)

A live-action adaptation of Mattel’s fortune-telling toy Magic 8 Ball was first announced in 2019 as a collaboration between Mattel and Blumhouse Productions, with Jeff Wadlow attached as writer. Blumhouse is no longer attached to the film, and it’s unclear if Wadlow is still on board. However, Mattel is still moving forward with the film and revealed it will most likely be a PG-13 thriller film.

Major Matt Mason

Tom Hanks as Gene in Maya and Marty
(NBC)

Major Matt Mason, an astronaut action figure from Mattel, is getting a live-action film from Paramount Pictures, with Akiva Goldsman producing and Tom Hanks set to star in it. The film is based on a short story about Mason written by author Michael Chabon.

Masters of the Universe

Chris Wood as He-Man/Prince Adam in Masters of the Universe: Revelation (2021)
(Netflix)

Mattel is still working on creating a live-action Masters of the Universe film. For over 15 years, the company has been looking to create big-budget Masters of the Universe film to add to its large media franchise of the same name. The film most recently found a home on Netflix, but the streamer recently dropped it. However, Mattel is currently looking for a new studio to take on the project.

Matchbox

Matchbox Tesla Roadster Toy
(Mattel, Inc.)

Mattel and Skydance Media are collaborating to create a live-action film based on the toy car line of the same name. The film will be written by Orphan: First Kill’s writer, David Coggeshall. No further details about the film have been released.

Polly Pocket

Emily Tennant as the voice of Polly Pocket in Polly Pocket show
(Netflix)

Mattel’s Polly Pocket doll and doll accessories line is getting a live-action adaptation, starring Emily in Paris’ Lily Collins and directed by Lena Dunham. The film will follow the friendship between a girl and her pocket-size doll that comes to life.

Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots

Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots
(Amazon/Mattel, Inc)

Mattel’s dueling robot boxers, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, are getting a live-action filming starring Vin Diesel. Diesel will also produce the film alongside his sister, Samantha Vincent, with Rampage’s Ryan Engle writing. It has been described as a “Real Steel-like film” following a father and son who befriend a boxing robot.

Thomas & Friends

Joseph May as the voice of Thomas the Train in Thomas and Friends
(Channel 5)

The sprawling Thomas & Friends franchise is getting another live-action film from Mattel and 2Dux. The film will be a hybrid of animation and live-action and has A Man Called Otto director Marc Forster attached to direct and produce.

UNO

(Mattel, Inc)

Mattel’s acquired card game UNO is getting a live-action film. It was initially developed as an action heist film written by Marcy Kelly. However, it appears Kelly has departed the film, and Mattel is currently looking for a new direction for UNO.

View-Master

View-Master Toy
(Amazon/Mattel, Inc)

Mattel is also developing a live-action film inspired by its stereoscope toy line View-Master. The film will be made in collaboration with MGM and will be a family film that will somehow see the 1960s stereoscopic toy blend with modern-day virtual reality. No writer or director has been attached to the film yet.

Wishbone

Soccer as Wishbone the Jack Russell Terrier in Wishbone
(PBS)

After winning over many hearts in PBS’ live-action Wishbone TV series, the little dog with a big heart is returning for a live-action film. Mattel is working with Universal Pictures to create a film adaptation of Wishbone. Peter Farrelly will produce, and Roy Parker will write the script. The film will be a modern reimagining of the beloved series that followed Jack Russell Terrier Wishbone as he traveled the world in his daydreams.

(featured image: Mattel, Inc/Netflix/Channel 5)


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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.