Mattel Inks Disc, Digital Distribution Deals With NCircle and Mill Creek Entertainment

NCircle Entertainment and Mill Creek Entertainment Aug. 31 announced separate multiyear physical and digital distribution agreements with Mattel. Under the pacts, NCircle Entertainment and Mill Creek Entertainment will distribute series based on Mattel brands such as Barbie, Thomas & Friends and Masters of the Universe on DVD at retail stores across the U.S. and Canada, as well as digital sellthrough and VOD.

The deal includes Barbie Dreamtopia Special, Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures (seasons 1 and 2), Barbie Princess Adventure, Barbie & Chelsea: The Lost Birthday, and Barbie: Big City, Big Dreams; Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go (seasons 25 and 26, and corresponding specials), produced in 2D animation; Masters of the Universe: Revelation; and the pending CG series He-Man.

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“Our primary focus is on entertainment that is accessible and relevant for young children,” Mary Flynn, VP of sales, content and acquisitions for NCircle, said in a statement.

“This collaboration continues to enhance our ability to serve consumers and the retail community with strong content slates in the years to come,” added Jeff Hayne, SVP of acquisitions and production for Mill Creek.

Debuting this year: Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures (season 1), available Nov. 16 on DVD digital, and Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go, available Dec. 7 on DVD.

Mattel, Universal Pictures Working With Vin Diesel on ‘Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots’ Live-Action Movie

Mattel April 19 announced plans to develop with Universal Pictures a live-action movie based on the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots tabletop game, and starring Vin Diesel — lead actor of the studio’s “Fast and Furious” franchise.

Mattel Films will produce the project alongside Diesel and Samantha Vincent (Fast and the Furious) from Diesel’s One Race Films production company. Ryan Engle (“Rampage,” “The Commuter”) penned the screenplay for the action adventure, which follows a father and son who form an unlikely bond with an advanced war machine. Kevin McKeon will lead the project for Mattel Films.

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“We are proud to bring this iconic piece of Mattel IP to life on the big screen,” Robbie Brenner, executive producer of Mattel Films, said in a statement.

Launched in 1966, the Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots game was inspired by an arcade boxing game, which pitted Red Rocker against Blue Bomber in a fight to knock his rival’s block off. A staple in pop culture since its debut, the brand’s bright and bold gameplay has appeared in films, television shows and commercials over the past five decades.

The movie is the second project between Mattel Films and Universal Pictures, which are also developing a movie based on the “Wishbone” television series. Other Mattel Films projects in development, include movies based on American Girl, Barbie, Barney, Hot Wheels, Magic 8 Ball, Major Matt Mason, Masters of the Universe, Thomas & Friends, Uno and View-Master.

Mattel, Nickelodeon to Produce Animated Series, Live-Action Movie Musical Based on ‘Monster High’ Franchise

Mattel and Nickelodeon Feb. 23 announced plans to produce a new animated series and live-action television movie musical based on “Monster High,” the franchise about the children of famous monsters and creatures.

The new series follows characters Clawdeen Wolf, Draculaura and Frankie Stein as they navigate high school at Monster High. The show, which will be available globally across Nickelodeon platforms, including Paramount+, is scheduled to premiere in 2022. Similarly, the movie musical event, which marks the first time Monster High will be featured in a live-action feature film, will be available on Nickelodeon platforms globally next year. Monster High was first introduced in 2010.

“Monster High’s strong message of inclusivity is more relevant than ever,” Fred Soulie, GM of Mattel Television, said in a statement. “Nickelodeon shares our passion for the brand and its purpose having worked on the franchise when it first launched more than a decade ago. They are the ideal partners to bring these beloved characters and their stories to life through episodic television and the live-action television movie.”

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The “Monster High” series and movie musical event join other Mattel Television content in production, including series and specials based on Barbie, Masters of the Universe, Thomas & Friends, Polly Pocket and Fireman Sam, to name a few.

The forthcoming “Monster High” series and movie underscore a key element of Nickelodeon’s content strategy, to build and expand the worlds of enormously popular franchises such as “Star Trek,” “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Henry Danger,” “Big Nate” and “Real Pigeons Fight Crime,” among others.

Nickelodeon’s new content slate is informed by the network’s ongoing research and insights into today’s generation of kids, who, the media company says, are the most diverse generation ever and expect to see themselves authentically represented in media and in the world around them; want to make a positive difference in the world as they grow up; consider social media stars as their top role models, alongside their parents; and increasingly meet their much-desired need for family time by co-viewing entertainment content together.

Mattel, Rapper Lil Yachty Producing Live-Action Movie Based Around the ‘Uno’ Card Game

If it can work for G.I. Joe, Barbie, and Hot Wheels, why not a game? Mattel Feb. 5 announced it is developing the Uno brand into a live-action motion picture.

Mattel Films will produce the project alongside Grammy-nominated rapper Lil Yachty and Quality Control’s Kevin “Coach K” Lee, Pierre “P” Thomas and Brian Sher. Marcy Kelly penned the screenplay for the action heist comedy, set in the underground hip hop world of Atlanta. Robbie Brenner, executive producer, and Kevin McKeon, supervising producer, will lead the project for Mattel Films.

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“At Mattel Films, we are looking to explore stories that bring our brands to life in unexpected ways,” Brenner said in a statement. “Uno is a game that transcends generations and cultures and we look forward to partnering with Lil Yachty, as well as with Coach, P and Brian Sher, to transform the classic game into a comedic action adventure.”

Conceived in 1971 in a barbershop in Cincinnati, Ohio, Uno was created as a way for families to spend time together, and quickly became a household staple. Five decades later, the game is now available in over 80 countries. In celebration of Uno’s 50th anniversary this year, Mattel is releasing one of the brand’s largest product lines offering new twists on gameplay, a global Uno tournament and is collaborating with a variety of names across art, fashion, sports and more.

“I played Uno as a kid and still do today, so to spin that into a movie based on the Atlanta hip hop scene I came out of is really special,” Yachty said. “It hits close to home for me.”

Uno joins other Mattel Films projects in development, including movies based on “American Girl,” “Barney,” “Magic 8 Ball,” “Major Matt Mason,” “Masters of the Universe,” “Thomas & Friends,” “View Master” and “Wishbone.”

Netflix and Mattel to Produce CG-Animated ‘He-Man’ Series

Netflix and Mattel Television are producing a new original animated adventure series of “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.”

The CG-animated series will reimagine the Masters of the Universe classic tale with new storylines and a fresh take on the iconic characters. This marks the second collaboration between Netflix and Mattel Television, joining the previously announced 2D anime series “Masters of the Universe: Revelation” with Kevin Smith

On the planet of Eternia, a young lost prince discovers the powers of Grayskull and transforms into He-Man, Master of the Universe. The classic battle between He-Man and evil Skeletor rages to new heights as both hero and villain forge new and mighty teams, a new generation of heroes fighting for the fate of us all.

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“Masters of the Universe is one of the most iconic global franchises of all time, with a 30-year history and a passionate fan base,” said Fred Soulie, SVP of content distribution and business development, Mattel.The entire team at Mattel is excited to introduce the world of He-Man to a new generation and, together with the talented team at Netflix, to reimagine the classic characters in a way that appeals to kids and families today, while also resonating with the fans who grew up with them.”

Mattel’s reboot of the classic Masters of the Universe franchise also includes a comic book series by DC Comics (available now), reimagined versions of the 80s toys (hitting retail shelves in the fall of 2020) and a feature film.

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Ex-Lionsgate Marketing Chief Anne Parducci Named Chief Content Officer at Toymaker MGA

Los Angeles-based toy company MGA Entertainment has hired Anne Parducci as chief content officer.

In the newly created role, she will head content development for MGA’s brands across multiple platforms and digital channels, oversee the MGAE Studios division, lead the in-house creative team and manage the company’s content distribution.

She will report to MGA founder and CEO Isaac Larian.

“Great storytelling is at the heart of a brand’s success — it’s the conduit between making a connection with the consumer versus a one-time transaction,” said Larian in a statement. “Anne’s expertise and experience in this area will be instrumental to growing and strengthening the foundation and preparing all MGAE brands for the next level of story creation.”

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“I am thrilled to join Isaac and his incredibly talented and creative team to further build the presence of MGA brands on screens everywhere, and partner with the best resources to create and distribute engaging content for families to enjoy,” said Parducci in a statement.

Parducci most recently served on the board of directors of Build-A-Bear Workshop. She also spent 12 years with Lionsgate and held the position of EVP of marketing and GM of family entertainment. She logged nine years at Mattel, serving as SVP of business development and marketing services and  helping to launch Barbie brand content.

Netflix Teaming With Kevin Smith on Animated ‘He-Man’ Relaunch

A new animated version of the “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” franchise is on the way from Netflix.

Filmmaker Kevin Smith Aug. 18 told fans at Power-Con, a “He-Man” convention being held over the weekend in Anaheim, Calif., that he was working with the streaming service on a new anime series based on the Mattel toy line that first launched in 1982.

The show, called “Masters of the Universe: Revelation,” was described as “a wholly original story set in the epic world of Mattel’s … He-Man toy franchise.”

Smith, will serve as showrunner and executive producer of the show, teased that the series would pick up unresolved storylines from the 1980s era of “He-Man,” when the characters were featured in the popular animated series by Filmation.

“I’m Eternia-ly grateful to Mattel TV and Netflix for entrusting me with not only the secrets of Grayskull, but also their entire Universe,” Smith said in a statement. “In ‘Revelation,’ we pick up right where the classic era left off to tell an epic tale of what may be the final battle between He-Man and Skeletor! This is the Masters of the Universe story you always wanted to see as a kid!”

According to Netflix’s description, the series takes place “after a ferocious final battle forever fractures Eternia,” He-Man’s home planet. “It’s up to Teela to solve the mystery of the missing Sword of Power in a race against time to prevent the end of the Universe.”

The animation will be provided by Powerhouse Animation Studios, the team behind Netflix’s “Castlevania” anime series.

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Netflix’s lineup already includes “She-Ra and the Princesses of Power,” based on the She-Ra character that was introduced in the classic animated series as He-Man’s sister. A third batch of “She-Ra” episodes bowed on Netflix Aug. 2, bringing the episode total to 26.

Development of a live-action “He-Man” reboot by Sony Pictures has reportedly stalled.

Smith’s next film, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, a return to his “View-Askewniverse” franchise, is due in theaters Oct. 15.

Mattel to Capitalize on Growth of Content Platforms With Slate of 22 Programs Based on Its Franchises

Mattel announced it is in development on a new slate of 22 animated and live-action TV programs based on the company’s characters and franchises created by Mattel Television for multi-platform distribution. The productions are based on more than 20 properties in Mattel’s IP portfolio.

The slate will encompass a broad range of genres, including action adventure, humor, game shows and music, and are designed to reach a range of demographics including toddlers and preschool, boys, girls, tweens, teens and families, according to a Mattel release.

“With the proliferation of broadcasting and streaming platforms, there is a growing demand for high-quality content driven by global brands,” said Ynon Kreiz, Chairman and CEO of Mattel, in a statement. “Mattel is the owner of one of the strongest portfolios of children’s and family entertainment franchises in the world. We have countless opportunities to bring these brands to their fans through episodic programming that will capture the imaginations of kids and families worldwide. This marks another important step to capture the full value of our assets as we drive our transformation to become an IP-driven, high-performing toy company.”

Mattel Television is led by Adam Bonnett, who recently joined Mattel as executive producer. Bonnett is a 21-year Disney Channel veteran, working on such hits as “Hannah Montana,” ‘Descendants,” “Kim Possible” and other Emmy Award-winning children’s shows.

Bonnett will work with Christopher Keenan, SVP and executive producer at Mattel Television, whoc has been responsible for animated content development and production of short and long-form episodic television for Barbie, Thomas & Friends, American Girl, Monster High, Bob the Builder, Fisher-Price’s Little People and many other properties within the Mattel portfolio.

Mattel Television will work in partnership with Mattel’s Franchise Management division, in particular, global content distribution led by Fred Soulie, SVP, content distribution and business development. Soulie, a 7-year Saban veteran, will oversee Mattel’s approach to strategic distribution of the slate globally, across all platforms and geographies, according to the release.

On the theatrical side, Mattel also announced it is partnering with MGM to develop a live action motion picture based on Mattel’s American Girl line of books and dolls. Mattel Films, MGM and Picturestart’s Erik Feig will produce the film. Cassidy Lange, MGM’s co-president of production and Robbie Brenner, Mattel Films’ executive producer will oversee production.

Mattel recently announced an upcoming Hot Wheels live action motion picture and the Barbie feature film, starring and co-produced by Academy Award-nominated actress Margot Robbie, both in partnership with Warner Bros. Pictures. Mattel has also partnered with Sony Pictures for a reimagining of “Masters of the Universe,” based on Mattel’s toy line which became a successful animated television program.