Barney Movie Is An A24-Type Surrealist Film For Adults

By Charlene Badasie | Updated

Kevin McKeon, the film producer at Mattel, has described the upcoming Barney movie as an A24-style film, offering more depth and seriousness than previous projects about the beloved dinosaur that were typically aimed at children. Instead, the movie, featuring Academy Award nominee Daniel Kaluuya, will explore more mature themes.

“We are leaning into the millennial angst of the property rather than fine-tuning this for kids.”

Kevin Mckeon – Mattel film producer

Speaking with The New Yorker, Mckeon compared the new Barney movie to the work of Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman. “We are leaning into the millennial angst of the property rather than fine-tuning this for kids,” he told the publication. The producer also explained how the film would appeal to older audience members.

“It’s really a play for adults,” Mckeon said. Mckeon also said that selling the project to prospective partners as an A24-type film was a daring way to underscore the fact that “we’re here to make art.”

“Not that it’s R-rated, but it will focus on the trials and tribulations of being thirty-something, growing up with Barney, just that level of disenchantment within the generation.”

Kevin Mckeon

With the intention to subvert expectations with the portrayal of Barney, audiences are eagerly anticipating this adaptation. Mattel initially announced the movie in 2019, but information about the cast, storyline, and release date has yet to be disclosed. Robbie Brenner, the Head of Mattel Films, previously discussed the project, shedding some light on its development.

“Working with Daniel Kaluuya will enable us to take a completely new approach to Barney that will surprise audiences and subvert expectations,” Brenner explained. Kaluuya, known for his work in Get Out and Nope, previously explained the reasoning behind his version of Barney. “Barney was a ubiquitous figure from many of our childhoods. Then he disappeared into the shadows.”

Barney & Friends

Since its debut on PBS in 1992, Barney & Friends made Barney the Dinosaur an iconic symbol of childhood. Sheryl Leach and Kathy Parker created the show. The heart of the series revolves around Barney, a friendly, huggable, and optimistic purple dinosaur. Barney conveys educational messages to young children through songs and engaging dance routines.

Each episode begins with the theme song and clips from various episodes. The scene transitions to a school or a park setting, where children participate in an activity relevant to the episode’s theme. Eventually, their actions transform a plush Barney doll into the “real” Barney as he appears in the children’s imaginative world.

Mattel’s upcoming Barney movie will dive into more mature themes than the original show ever covered.

Barney is one of several upcoming projects at Mattel Films, as the studio aims to transform numerous products into potential movie franchises. Among them is an adaptation of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe in collaboration with Netflix, a live-action Hot Wheels film, an intriguing Magic 8 Ball movie, and projects featuring Polly Pocket, Rock’ Em Sock’ Em Robots, and American Girl.

Barney is also getting a new animated series.

Barney is also getting a new animated series, especially for preschool kids. Scheduled for a 2024 release, the series will encompass various platforms, including television, books, apparel, toys, and YouTube content.

Although further information is limited, Fred Soulie, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Mattel Television, said the studio wants to create a more contemporary version of Barney.

While the Barney movie is still in development, Mattel is preparing to release the highly anticipated Barbie film, which takes a meta approach to the famous doll. Greta Gerwig directs the film from a screenplay she co-wrote with Noah Baumbach.

The story follows Barbie (Margot Robbie), who is expelled from the idealistic Barbieland due to her imperfections. She is then forced to embark on a journey of self-discovery in the real world. The movie is scheduled to hit theaters worldwide on July 21.