Barbie is finally getting some TV time on her own big-screen movie. The toy company Mattel announced on Tuesday it partnered with Warner Bros. to bring the iconic doll to life in theaters with Academy Award-nominated actress Margot Robbie to star as Barbie. Robbie will also co-produce the film, alongside Rom Ackerley and Josey McNamara, under the LuckyChap Entertainment banner.
This is the first movie deal announced by Mattel Films, as CNBC reports. When news broke on Tuesday, shares of the company increased as much as 5 percent, before giving up some of its gains.
“Margot is the ideal producer and actress to bring Barbie to life on screen in a fresh and relevant way for today’s audiences,” Toby Emmerich, chairman of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, said in a statement. Robbie added glory to her name for her portrayal of Harley Quinn in “Suicide Squad,” Tonya Harding in “I, Tonya” and Jane Clayton in “The Legend of Tarzan.”
Ynon Kreiz took over the helm at Mattel last April, previously stating he plans to take the struggling company’s iconic toy brands and further expand them into other potentially money-making areas. Movies just so happen to be one of those avenues.
Over the past year, shares of Mattel fell more than 27 percent, being damaged from weak sales of its iconic brands, including American Girl Doll and Fisher-Price. As technology continues to advance, more children are beginning to gravitate toward video games and electronics, rather than traditional toys. Sales also took a huge hit due to the bankruptcy of Toys R Us.
Despite their attempts at strengthening toy brands by overhauling the company’s management team, suspending its dividend and developing plans to cut $650 million in costs, Mattel continued to be unsuccessful at reviving sales.
The company announced last year that it will be cutting 2,200 jobs, roughly 22 percent of its global non-manufacturing workforce, and shutter its New York office, affecting nearly 100 employees.
Despite the company’s struggles, Kreiz told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” in October that “Mattel is the owner of one of the strongest catalogs of children and family entertainment in the world, think Barbie, Hotwheels, American Girl, Fisher Price, Masters of the Universe, Thomas the Tank Engine … Ageless, timeless, generational, iconic brands.”
On the other hand, sales of Barbie dolls in particular were up 17 percent globally in the third quarter, while 22 percent growth was in North America. At the time Kreiz noted he wanted to restore Mattel to a “high-performing” toy company and to capitalize on its intellectual property by expanding into film, television, live events, video games and consumer merchandise.