Evolve

Barbie movie starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling will be a 'cultural event,' Mattel CEO says

Key Points
  • Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz said the upcoming Barbie movie starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling will be a "cultural event."
  • The toy company's Barbie-based film is one of more than a dozen projects Mattel has on the docket, all part of its larger strategy of being an IP company that manages franchises.
  • Mattel is looking to better control its entertainment content by working with studios instead of simply licensing materials. It also wants films based on its IP to focus on quality, not just toy sales.
Margot Robbie will star as Barbie in an upcoming movie from Mattel and Warner Bros.
Mattel | Warner Bros.

Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz isn't looking to use upcoming theatrical releases just to sell toys. He wants them to stand on their own.

Speaking with CNBC's Julia Boorstin at the Evolve Global Summit on Wednesday, Kreiz spoke in depth about the upcoming Barbie movie starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling. He called the feature film a "cultural event."

"Barbie is very much more than a toy," he said. "And more than a doll. Barbie is a cultural icon, a pop icon. And this movie is really shaping up to be what we believe, would become a societal moment."

The Barbie film is one of more than a dozen projects that Mattel has on the docket, all part of its larger strategy of transitioning from a manufacturing company making items, to an IP company that manages franchises.

Yes, Mattel still makes toys, but in the last four years, since Kreiz has taken the helm as CEO, the business has overhauled how it thinks about its products and how it engages with its consumers.

Part of that process is being more involved in the entertainment content centered around its biggest and most popular brands. Mattel is working closely with Warner Bros. on the Barbie film and brought on Oscar-nominated filmmakers Greta Gerwig ("Lady Bird") and Noah Baumbach ("Marriage Story") to write the film, with Gerwig directing.

Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling on rollerblades film new scenes for 'Barbie' in Venice California. 27 Jun 2022.
Mega | Gc Images | Getty Images

"The approach that is very different, very unique, not something that you've seen before, is going to be very exciting," he said of the film, which is currently in production.

The other piece of the process is making quality content, not just films and TV shows tied to toy lines.

"Don't try to sell toys," he said. "We know that in success, if people watch the movie, and there's high engagement, good things will happen. We know how to sell toys, where the opportunity is really about quality entertainment, based on our IP."

"Barbie" is set for release in July 2023.