‘The Last Blockbuster’ Director Taylor Morden Making Build-A-Bear Documentary (EXCLUSIVE)

Taylor Morden

Having chronicled the decline of one influential business with “The Last Blockbuster,” Taylor Morden will instead tell the story of the incredible rise of another in his next feature length documentary.

Morden’s new film will examine Build-A-Bear Workshop, charting its growth from startup fad to decades-old experiential retailer. The film is being made with the company’s cooperation and will coincide with Build-A-Bear’s 25th anniversary. It recently started production at the company’s headquarters in St. Louis.

For the uninitiated or the childless, Build-A-Bear sells teddy bears and other stuffed animals and characters. In a unique spin, customers get to tailor the toys, choosing outfits, accessories and sounds that it wants the stuffed character to make.

Morden’s breakout film “The Last Blockbuster” examines the negative impact the video rental retailer faced during the rise of streaming services. Although the Build-A-Bear documentary will follow the company as it grapples with tectonic shifts in the retail space (malls, after all, aren’t doing so hot), it will explore what dynamics how Build-A-Bear’s offerings have continued to resonate with customers. In fact, a pandemic-ravaged 2021 was the most profitable year in the company’s history.

The Build-A-Bear Workshop documentary will be produced in a mixed media format including animation and storyboarded sequences.

Foundation Media Partners is producing the project and its founder, Patrick Hughes, commented, “We’re thrilled to tell the engaging story of this beloved company in a way that we expect will be as fun and inviting as visiting a Build-A-Bear Workshop store or one of the brand’s latest digital experiences. Our goal is to make a documentary that can truly be enjoyed by the entire family. Taylor has an amazing vision for it and we couldn’t be more excited to kick this off.”

“Going into this project I have so many questions,” said Morden. “What is it about Build-A-Bear that resonates with so many people? Why do people line up to stuff their own plush animals, when they can buy them already stuffed? Can experiential retail save the shopping mall as we know it? Or is it too late? I’m hoping the audience will have as much fun as I do finding the answers!”

“Since 1997, Build-A-Bear Workshop has enabled guests around the world to create over 200 million furry friends and countless stories and memories,” said Sharon Price John, Build-A-Bear CEO and president. “As we celebrate our 25th anniversary, we are excited to share our own story and memories, as well, and this documentary, led by Taylor, is the perfect vehicle. From a dynamic founder to a global pandemic, you will learn how a stuffed animal company that started in a St. Louis mall evolved to become an iconic global brand that navigated through one of the most uncertain business and retail periods in modern history to emerge stronger than before all while remaining focused on our mission of adding a little more heart to life.”

Morden is repped by ICM.