Mattel Films executive Kevin McKeon suggested in July that the movie featuring the popular '90s children's television character would prove "surrealistic"
Three months after Mattel Films executive Kevin McKeon suggested to The New Yorker that the in-the-works project will be "surrealistic," Mattel's CEO Ynon Kreiz appeared to backtrack on that idea while speaking with Semafor in a recent interview.
"That one is getting a lot of reaction," Kreiz said, in response to a question about Mattel's reaction to this summer's runaway hit Barbie, which includes plans to bring feature-film versions of properties like Barney, Polly Pocket and UNO, among others, to the big screen.
"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," the CEO said, when the outlet suggested that a Barney movie "sounds weird."
"It will not be an odd movie," he added.
McKeon, whose LinkedIn profile states he has worked as a vice president of film production at Mattel since 2018, had previously compared the Barney movie project to the films of writer-directors Charlie Kaufman (I'm Thinking of Ending Things, Synecdoche, New York) and Spike Jonze (Her, Adaptation) while speaking with The New Yorker over the summer.
“We’re leaning into the millennial angst of the property rather than fine-tuning this for kids,” he said at the time. “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.”
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Barney was popularized through the PBS children's series Barney & Friends, which originally ran from 1992 to 2009. Modern millenial and Gen Z stars like Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez and Never Have I Ever's Jaren Lewison found their start on the program.
McKeon also told The New Yorker in July that he had pitched the Barney movie to potential partners as an “A24-type” movie. Kaluuya, 34, is expected to produce the movie through his company 59% and star in an unspecified role.
The Academy Award winner last commented publicly on his Barney project in June, when he told Yahoo! Entertainment that the project's script was still in development.
"I ask for high standards on anything that I work on, and I'm producing this one, so it's still in development," he shared.
When the film was first announced in 2019, Kaluuya described Barney as a popular childhood character who "disappeared into the shadows, left misunderstood,” per The Hollywood Reporter.
“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," he added at the time.
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