Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz sat down with CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Wednesday to discuss the launch of the brand’s cinematic universe and Barbie’s big screen debut, just days before the long-awaited film premieres.
Kreiz said the Mattel transformed its mindset when the company realized its customers are not just consumers, they’re fans.
“This was not about making a movie, this was about creating an iconic cultural moment,” Kreiz said. “We wanted to do something different, something unique, something that would stand out, and we are very excited for this creation of Greta Gerwig, who is one of the most prolific creators of our generation, and her interpretation, modern-day interpretation, of the Barbie brand.”
Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie,” which hits theaters on Friday, is expected by some box office analysts to gross $140 million. The film is the first of Mattel’s new cinematic universe, which already has at least 45 new film adaptions of the company’s iconic toys in development, including a live-action Hot Wheels movie from JJ Abrams and a Barney film geared towards adults that one producer said will lean into “millennial angst.” The company’s goal, Kreiz said, is to become a “talent-magnet,” attracting top-notch creatives to amplify the brand.
Kreiz clarified that Mattel does not fund its movies. Rather, its currency lies with its IP and “marketing expertise,” he said, adding that the company does have a hand in the film’s business side.
“We transformed our business model,” Kreiz, who became CEO in 2018, said. “We went from a loss of about $200 million of operating income to a positive almost $800 million of operating income and continue to grow our business, generate cash and position the company for long-term future growth.”
Kreiz lauded Gerwig for creating a film that takes the iconic Barbie brand and makes it “relevant to everyone.”
“Our brands, even Barney, transcend generations and appeal to audiences of all ages,” he said. “And the ability, the magic, is to attract and work and empower creative talent. And when you do that well, magic happens.”