Daniel Kaluuya Barney Movie ‘Not Odd,’ Says Mattell CEO



With Mattel Films off to the races thanks to the blockbuster success of “Barbie,” the studio is moving full steam ahead on its upcoming Barney movie produced by Daniel Kaluuya. The project became a subject of fascination for cinephiles after Mattel Films executive Kevin McKeon told The New Yorker in July that the script was similar to an A24 movie and the “surrealistic” films from Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze. Neither of these sources of inspirations are necessarily family friendly.

“That one is getting a lot of reaction,” Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz recently told Semafor. “It’s too early to be specific, but I can tell you we are taking a fresh approach that will be fun, entertaining and culturally oriented. It will not be an odd movie.”

According to Kreiz, Kaluuya’s Barney movie will not be odd. This comes after McKeon said of the project: “We’re leaning into the Millennial angst of the property rather than fine-tuning this for kids. It’s really a play for adults. Not that it’s R-rated, but it’ll focus on some of the trials and tribulations of being 30-something, growing up with Barney—just the level of disenchantment within the generation.”

Describing the Barney film as an “A24-type” movie, McKeon added, “It would be so daring of us, and really underscore that we’re here to make art.”

When the project first got announced in November 2019, Mattel Films’ Robbie Brenner said that working with Kaluuya would allow the studio “to take a completely new approach to ‘Barney’ that will surprise audiences and subvert expectations.”

“Barney was a ubiquitous figure in many of our childhoods, then he disappeared into the shadows, left misunderstood,” Kaluuya added at the time. “We’re excited to explore this compelling modern-day hero and see if his message of ‘I love you, you love me’ can stand the test of time.”

In an interview with Variety amid the success of “Barbie,” Brenner said the Barney movie isn’t “necessarily going to be darker” but it will be “unique — more of like a ‘Being John Malkovich’ or an ‘Adaptation.’” Like McKeon, Brenner evoked Kaufman and Jonze’s collaborations as inspiration points. She also said the film will be about “identity and finding who you love and who feels alienated” and “what does it all mean?,” adding that it will “be more adult and have adult themes — and sort of be a little bit off-kilter.”

“Any movie that has Barney is not certainly going to be straightforward,” Brenner concluded. “We’re not making ‘Ted.’ You know what I mean?”


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