Mattel has very different plans for Barney the Purple Dinosaur, as described by an executive who works in the company’s film division. During a recent interview with The New Yorker, Kevin McKeon discussed what audiences can expect from the upcoming story, which will set a very different tone than previous iterations of the lovable character:
“We’re tapping into the millennial concern of the property rather than perfecting this for the kids. It really is aimed at adults. Not that it’s rated R, but it will focus on some of the trials and tribulations of being 30, growing up with Barney, just the level of disillusionment within the generation. It would be very bold of us and really underscore that we are here to make art.”
Darker versions of childhood characters are on the rise, after Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey is set to be released this year. They are also working on other adaptations of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, respectively.
Although it does not seem that Barney is going to orient himself to horror, McKeon said that he presented the film as an “A24 type”. Added to the surprise tone, Daniel Kaluuya will participate in the project as a producer and it remains to be seen if he finally joins the cast of the film. While there’s plenty of time left before Barney hits the big screen, the fact that the studio already has the tone and producer set for the film means the development process is moving along apace.
Mattel is hard at work developing several other projects based on its famous intellectual property. But before they can focus on Hot Wheels or Uno, they’ll have to keep a close eye on how Barbie is doing at the box office.