Toymaker Mattel Inc. is creating of Mattel Films, a new division producing motion pictures based on its globally recognized franchises.
Hollywood veteran Robbie Brenner, producer of “Dallas Buyers Club,” has been appointed to lead Mattel Films as executive producer, reporting to Ynon Kreiz, Mattel’s new chairman and CEO. The deal was announced on Thursday afternoon.
“Mattel is home to one of the world’s greatest portfolios of beloved franchises, and the creation of Mattel Films will allow us to unlock significant value across our IP,” said Kreiz. “Robbie is a gifted storyteller and a highly respected filmmaker with deep relationships in entertainment. She is the perfect leader to bring our celebrated brands to life.”
Brenner scored an Oscars best picture nomination for “Dallas Buyers Club,” and her film “Burden” was a 2018 Sundance Film Festival audience award winner. She was a partner and president of the film division at the Firm, as well as president of production at Relativity Media. Brenner also ran the classics division at Davis Entertainment, and held senior VP roles at both 20th Century Fox and Miramax. In 2015, Brenner was invited to join the executive branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
She oversaw production of “The Fighter,” “Mirror Mirror, “Dear John,” and “Safe Haven” and was involved in the acquisitions of the Sundance documentary “Catfish” and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut, “Don Jon,” starring Gordon-Levitt and Scarlett Johansson.
“Generations of children around the world have grown up with deep emotional connections to Mattel’s brands and characters,” said Brenner. “There are so many stories to be told and so many imaginations to be captured by these iconic brands, and I look forward to working with Ynon and his team to do so.”
Mattel has lagged behind rivals Lego and Hasbro in terms of moviemaking in Hollywood. Lego has released a trio of movies through Warner Bros. since 2014. Its “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” will open in February.
Hasbro has partnered with Michael Bay and Paramount on five “Transformers” movies, which have grossed $4.4 billion worldwide. A “Bumblee” spinoff will open in December. Hasbro has also seen movie success from its G.I. Joe and Ouija brands.
Mattel has Barbie, Hot Wheels, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Monster High, and Max Steel as potential properties. Most recently, it’s been developing “Barbie” and “Masters of the Universe” movies at Sony but Sony’s options have expired on those properties. Earlier this year, Sony announced that it had pushed back the release of “Barbie,” which had Anne Hathaway attached at that point, from 2018 to 2020.
Mattel’s most recent foray into movies came with 2016’s live-action “Max Steel,” which performed poorly with less than $4 million at the domestic box office.