As part of a growing effort to extend its franchises as entertainment brands, toymaker Mattel has announced plans to develop a slate of 22 animated and live-action tv programs based on its toy lines and characters.
The company will develop the programs through Mattel Television, an internal division focusing on creating episodic content for multi-platform distribution. In a press release, Ynon Kreiz, chairman and CEO of Mattel, noted that its focus on series production comes as a response to the growing demand for content from “the proliferation of broadcasting and streaming platforms.”
Mattel’s episodic efforts will be led by Adam Bonnett, a 21-year Disney Channel veteran who was hired as an executive producer earlier this month. At Disney, where Bonnet was Disney Channels Worldwide executive vice president of original programming, he oversaw shows like Hannah Montana, Descendants, and Kim Possible.
Bonnett will work with Christopher Keenan, svp/executive producer at Mattel Television, who has been in charge of developing and producing Mattel’s recent animated content based on Barbie, Thomas & Friends, American Girl, Monster High, Bob the Builder, and Fisher-Price’s Little People, among other properties in Mattel’s portfolio.
The nearly two-dozen shows will target a broad demographic, including toddlers and preschool, boys, girls, tweens, teens, and families, and will encompass a broad range of genres, such as action-adventure, humor, game shows, and music.
Mattel’s extensive episodic plans are part of a strategic effort to catch up with toy industry competitors like Hasbro and Lego that have already done extensive worldbuilding with their properties. As Mattel CEO Kreiz explained, “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 also launched Mattel Films last year, a division headed by film producer Robbie Brenner. A priority project for the theatrical division is its live-action Barbie film, which has passed through many writers and stars over its last half decade in development. Last month, it was confirmed that the project has moved from Sony to Warner Bros., where Margot Robbie will play the lead (Amy Schumer and Anne Hathaway had previously been attached to star in the title role). Robbie will also serve as a co-producer on the film.
(Pictured at top: “Barbie: Spy Squad”)