More movies based on toys in the works after 'Barbie'

The toy box is headed to the silver screen

Hot Wheels
Can a Hot Wheels movie be the next "Barbie," or will it crash and burn?
(Image credit: Jakub Porzycki / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Hollywood may soon be taken over by a new MCU: the Mattel Cinematic Universe.

The highly anticipated "Barbie" film looks set to become one of the biggest hits of the summer after generating a surprising amount of hype for a movie based on a toy. If it's as big as box office analysts expect, a whole wave of toy-based movies could move full steam ahead, and according to The New Yorker, Mattel alone has a whopping 45 of them in various stages of development.

But can any of these projects be nearly as successful as "Barbie," "Transformers," or "The Lego Movie," or is there a limit to Hollywood's ability to create hit films out of products with virtually no story attached? We'll find out soon enough, but these are some of the most notable — and slightly ridiculous — upcoming movies based on toys:

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Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots

Vin Diesel is teaming up with Mattel Films and Universal for a live-action movie based on Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, which will follow a "father and son who form an unlikely bond with an advanced war machine," Deadline reported in 2021. Diesel is set to produce and star, while "Rampage" co-writer Ryan Engle reportedly penned the screenplay.

"To take the classic Rock 'Em Sock 'Em game, with Mattel as my partner, and align it with the kind of world-building, franchise-making success we have had with Universal is truly exciting," Diesel said, while Mattel Films producer Robbie Brenner promised it will be a "thrilling action adventure for the whole family to enjoy."

Hot Wheels

A live-action movie based on Hot Wheels has been in the works since 2019, and in 2022, Mattel confirmed that J.J. Abrams' production company Bad Robot will produce. Mattel described it as a "high-throttle action film," and according to The New Yorker, Abrams said, "For a long time, we were talking to Mattel about Hot Wheels, and we couldn't quite find the thing that clicked, that made it worthy of what Hot Wheels — that title — deserved. Then we came up with something … emotional and grounded and gritty."

American Girl

If "Barbie" is a hit, could Mattel find similar success with a movie based on American Girl dolls? It was a "Saturday Night Live" sketch, but it could become a reality, as a live-action American Girl movie has been in the works at MGM since 2019. "American Girl is a beloved, story-driven franchise lending itself perfectly to a feature film," Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz said.


A live-action movie based on the View-Master toy is somehow also happening at MGM. Jonathan Glickman, MGM motion picture group president, said in 2019, "We couldn't be more excited to partner with Mattel to create a family adventure integrating the old school turn and click stereotypic device with the modern world of virtual reality." The project had been in some stage of development going back to 2009.

Polly Pocket

"Girls" creator Lena Dunham will write and direct a live-action Polly Pocket movie for Mattel with Lily Collins set to star. It will "center on a young girl and a pocket-sized woman who form a friendship," according to Variety. "I'm so thrilled to bring to bear both my love of this historic property and also my deep-seated belief that young women need smart playful films that speak to them without condescension," Dunham said. She also told The Hollywood Reporter the film will have a "lot of fun with the idea of what happens when a small person encounters a big world."

Magic 8 Ball

Yes, even Magic 8 Ball is being turned into a movie — and a horror movie, no less. In 2019, Deadline reported that Blumhouse was teaming with Mattel for a film based on Magic 8 Ball with Jeff Wadlow ("Truth or Dare") attached to direct. "This iconic toy has a built-in connection with fans and untapped potential for storytelling," Mattel said at the time. By 2022, Blumhouse was no longer involved. But as of July 2023, The New Yorker reported that the film is still in the works from "Cocaine Bear" screenwriter Jimmy Warden.

Chatty Cathy and Betsy Wetsy

Jason Bateman's Aggregate Films is teaming with Mattel for movies based on the dolls Chatty Cathy and Betsy Wetsy, Variety reported in 2022.

Masters of the Universe

A live-action "Masters of the Universe" movie was in the works at Netflix with Adam and Aaron Nee, the filmmakers behind "The Lost City," set to direct. But according to Variety, the film recently fell apart due to budget concerns. Mattel is reportedly shopping the project and seeking a new buyer.

Major Matt Mason

Paramount announced a live-action movie based on Mattel's Major Matt Mason, the 1960s astronaut toy reminiscent of Buzz Lightyear, in 2019. Tom Hanks is set to star, and as of 2019, "The Da Vinci Code" screenwriter Akiva Goldsman was set to adapt the script from a short story from Michael Chabon, according to Variety.


The board game Clue already spawned a 1985 comedy, but a new version is in the works with Ryan Reynolds attached. This one, though, is a Hasbro property. Marvel vs. DC was so 2010s, so strap in for an even greater battle in the 2020s: the Mattel Cinematic Universe vs. the Hasbro Cinematic Universe.

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.