Barney movie will be geared much more towards adults

Everything we know so far about the upcoming Barney movie

Barney & Friends characters

Aside from the highly anticipated Barbie movie that is coming out in theaters this July 2023, there are other upcoming films based on Mattel toys. One of those is the live-action Barney movie that was first announced in October 2019. But unlike the Barney toy and the subsequent TV series that made the purple dinosaur a household name, the Barney movie will be geared much more towards adults than kids.

Is the Barney movie going to be kid-friendly?

The Barney movie doesn’t have a rating from the Motion Picture Association of America yet, as the film is still in its developmental stage. But if you’re one of those fans who are hoping for a warm and fuzzy Barney movie, then you might want to check your expectations.

In a recent interview with The New Yorker, Kevin McKeon, who shepherds the Barney movie for Mattel Films, revealed that the film will be geared much more towards adults and tap into millennial angst.

“We’re leaning into the millennial angst of the property rather than fine-tuning this for kids,” McKeon told the magazine. “It’s really a play for adults. Not that it’s R-rated, but it’ll focus on some of the trials and tribulations of being thirtysomething, growing up with Barney — just the level of disenchantment within the generation.”

The Mattel films executive added that they’ve been selling the Barney movie to prospective partners as “an A24-type film” – a nod to the independent entertainment company A24, which is known for films and TV series that are typically characterized by dark, weird, and often disturbing subject matter. A24 films often feature complex characters, challenging themes, and a unique visual style. Comparing the Barney movie to A24 films comes as a surprise given that the project’s source material is a children’s toy and a TV series about a giant puppet dinosaur who sings songs and plays with children.

Barney movie plot

Plot details about the Barney movie are being kept under wraps, but Daniel Kaluuya, who is co-producing the film under his production banner 59%, previously referred to the Barney movie as “heartbreaking.”

“Barney taught us, ‘I love you; you love me. Won’t you say you love me too?’ That’s one of the first songs I remember, and what happens when that isn’t true? I thought that was really heartbreaking,” Kaluuya said back in 2020. “I have no idea why but it feels like that makes sense. It feels like there’s something unexpected that can be poignant but optimistic. Especially at this time now, I think that’s really, really needed.”

These thoughts echo Kaluuya’s first statement about the project back in 2019 when the movie was officially announced. “Barney was a ubiquitous figure in many of our childhoods, then he disappeared into the shadows, left misunderstood,” said Kaluuya at the time. “We’re excited to explore this compelling modern-day hero and see if his message of ‘I love you, you love me’ can stand the test of time.”

Barney movie cast

Daniel Kaluuya as W'Kabi in Black Panther
Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi in Black Panther

The complete cast of the Barney movie has not yet been unveiled. But Daniel Kaluuya (Nope and Black Panther) is confirmed to star in the movie, in addition to serving as a producer, alongside 59%’s Rowan Riley and Amandla Crichlow and Valparaiso Pictures’ David Carrico, Adam Paulsen, and Bobby Hoppey.

“Working with Daniel Kaluuya will enable us to take a completely new approach to Barney that will surprise audiences and subvert expectations,” said Robbie Brenner, Mattel Films, in 2019. “The project will speak to the nostalgia of the brand in a way that will resonate with adults while entertaining today’s kids.”

Barney movie release date

The Barney movie doesn’t have a release date yet, as the project is believed to be still in the developmental stage.

Other upcoming movies based on Mattel Toys

Aside from the Barbie movie and Barney movie, films based on the Mattel toys Hot Wheels, Masters of the Universe, American Girl, View Master, Magic 8 Ball, and Major Matt Mason are also in development.

Which came first the Barney toy or the Barney TV series?

The Barney toy came first. The first Barney plush toy was created in 1987 by Sheryl Leach, who was inspired by her son’s love of dinosaurs. The toy was a huge success, and in 1992, the Barney & Friends TV series was created to capitalize on the popularity of the toy.

The TV series premiered on PBS in 1992 and ran for 14 seasons. It was a hit with children and parents alike, and Barney became a cultural phenomenon. The show was known for its catchy songs, positive messages, and colorful characters.

Why did Barney get cancelled?

Barney and Friends title card
Barney and Friends title card

Barney & Friends was cancelled for a number of reasons, including:

  • Declining viewership: The show’s viewership had been declining for several years, and by the time it was cancelled, it was only getting about 1 million viewers per episode.
  • Changing trends in children’s programming: The children’s television landscape had changed significantly since Barney & Friends first aired in 1992. Newer shows, such as Sesame Street and Blue’s Clues, were more educational and interactive, attracting younger viewers.
  • Legal issues: The show’s producers were facing a number of lawsuits from people who claimed that the show was too violent or that it promoted bad behavior.
  • Cost-cutting measures: The show’s producers were also facing financial pressure, and they were forced to make cost-cutting measures, such as reducing the number of episodes per season.

In 2009, Barney & Friends was cancelled after 14 seasons. The show’s cancellation was met with mixed reactions. Some people were happy to see the show go, while others were sad to see it end. However, there is no doubt that Barney & Friends was a cultural phenomenon that had a significant impact on children’s television.

In addition to the reasons listed above, there were also some negative reactions to Barney & Friends that may have contributed to its cancellation. Some people found the show to be too saccharine and insipid, while others found the purple dinosaur to be creepy and off-putting. There were also some concerns about the show’s educational value, as some critics felt that it was too simplistic and did not challenge children enough.

Despite these criticisms, Barney & Friends remained popular with many children and families for many years. The show’s cancellation was a sign of the changing times in children’s television, but it also marked the end of an era for a show that had touched the lives of millions of people.

Where to watch Barney & Friends

Select seasons of Barney & Friends are currently streaming on Tubi, Amazon Prime Video, FilmRise, Peacock, and Netflix in the United States.

Barney - I Love You (SONG with LYRICS)
Source: The New Yorker, Mattel,
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