Analysis & Comment

Opinion | Can Barbie Make It in Hollywood?

Produced by ‘Sway’

Mattel went through three chief executives in four years before Ynon Kreiz took the job in 2018. He stood the test of time in part because of a big bet: taking Mattel's toys to Hollywood. The toy giant is partnering with Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie to bring Barbie to life on the big screen, and creating films based on everything from UNO to Magic 8 Ball. It’s a strategy that draws on Kreiz’s past experience at entertainment companies like Maker Studios and Endemol, and one that draws inspiration from franchises like Transformers and companies like Lego, which Kreiz says was able to make “great movies out of bricks.”

[You can listen to this episode of “Sway” on Apple, Spotify, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.]

In this conversation, Kara Swisher stress tests Kreiz’s strategy, asking whether these potential movie franchises are any more than glorified marketing and what a movie based on the Magic 8 Ball may look like. (Reply hazy, try again.) They also discuss the future of play in an age of video games and smartphones, and when Mattel might introduce a transgender Barbie. Oh, and Kara pitches her own media franchise mash-up: a Teletubbies movie directed by Martin Scorsese.

(A full transcript of the episode will be available midday on the Times website.)

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“Sway” is produced by Nayeema Raza, Blakeney Schick, Matt Kwong, Daphne Chen and Caitlin O’Keefe, and edited by Nayeema Raza; fact-checking by Kate Sinclair; music and sound design by Isaac Jones; mixing by Carole Sabouraud and Sonia Herrero; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Liriel Higa.

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