Since the Barbie movie became a global phenomenon, which is on its way to an unbelievable $1.5 billion in box office takings, both Warner Bros and Mattel have been accused of taking the wrong message from its success. One of these is that a whole slew of movies based on toys and cartoons have been greenlit as a result. However, one of the weirdest sounding of these – Daniel Kaluuya’s Barney the Dinosaur movie – actually predates Barbie by some years.
It was all the way back in 2019 when Kaluuya’s production company became attached to Barney the Dinosaur – which raised more than a few eyebrows in surprise. We’ve had a few updates since then – in July 2022, Kaluuya told The Hollywood Reporter that the project was still in early development and the script was being reworked.
In July 2023, Mattel executive Kevin McKeon told The New Yorker that the Barney movie would be “surrealistic,” and compared the concept to the work of Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze. It sounds more like a dark comedy movie than a family movie.
McKeon continued; “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 thirtysomething, growing up with Barney – just the level of disenchantment within the generation.” He told me later that he’d sold it to prospective partners as an ‘A24 movie‘ and that “It would be so daring of us, and really underscore that we’re here to make art.”
McKeon has got us excited for a weird and wonderful Barney movie, but a new interview with Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz has changed the messaging somewhat. He says; “That one [Barney] is getting a lot of reaction. 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.” But we’ve been promised odd, and we want – nay, demand – odd!