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Thread: Playground Productions is Mattel's New In-House Studio: What does this mean for MOTU?

  1. #1
    Heroic Master of 200X MegaGearMax's Avatar
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    Playground Productions is Mattel's New In-House Studio: What does this mean for MOTU?

    We might see some stuff for Masters!!!

    Here is where the article can be found.



    Mattel is ready to get more creative with its toys: The world’s largest toymaker has launched Playground Productions as a new banner through which it will create original entertainment for various platforms.

    Based out of the company’s headquarters in El Segundo, Calif., the new division — which essentially serves as an in-house studio — manages creative storytelling across all Mattel brands, including Barbie, Monster High, Max Steel, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and its Hot Wheels franchises, overseeing everything from script development to storyboards to greenlighting theatrical productions.

    The company will be Mattel’s way of taking creative control over how its top toy brands make the transition to other forms of entertainment, including films, TV shows, web series, direct-to-video titles, books, music, live events and videogames.

    One of the division’s first projects is “Team Hot Wheels: The Origin of Awesome,” a new animated kids property that Mattel will roll out next year first as a 22-minute origin story in the spring, followed by 11 two-minute shorts during the summer and a 74-minute direct-to-homevideo film in the fall, which will be made available on most digital platforms.

    Mercury Filmworks (Disney’s “Jake and the Never Land Pirates”) is co-producing and handling the animation on the series, which introduces a cast of four thrill-seeking kids who love to race their Hot Wheels cars through the fictional town of Hilly Woodlands, complete with the brand’s signature orange track, of course. The animation style combines 2D and 3D to bring the cars to life.

    Mattel has embraced a “push to play” approach for its storytelling, meaning what happens in a movie, web series or direct-to-home video title should encourage kids to want to play with the toys associated with the property and boost sales.

    “Playground Productions is dedicated to delivering impactful narratives that drive brand awareness and engagement across all the platforms kids love,” said David Voss, senior VP, Playground Productions. “Storytelling is at the heart of every great character and franchise. From script development and story mapping, to film production and post-production, we have established a one-stop shop for modern, creative storytelling.”

    Voss, a longtime toy designer at Mattel, heads up Playground Prods. and oversees a team that includes Rob Hudnut as executive producer and chief story strategist; former Nickelodeon executive Julia Pistor as producer and executive producer of feature films; and Margaret Dean as director of production. Lloyd Goldfine (“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles Forever”) also serves as a producer for the division.

    The animated “Hot Wheels” project joins a reboot of Mattel’s “Max Steel” action figure that the company will use a live action film to help re-introduce to kids and families. Mattel is co-producing the film with Dolphin Entertainment’s new film shingle, with Open Road Films picking up the project to release in theaters late next year.

    Over the years, Mattel had set up several of its top toy properties as films at various studios, including He-Man and the Masters of the Universe at Sony, which is still keen on launching the 1980s toy line as a potential film franchise.

    Mattel sparked to the prospects of creating other forms of entertainment based on its toys after the successful launch of Barbie as a series of successful animated direct-to-home video movies, through Lionsgate and now Universal, and the launch of runaway hit Monster High, in 2010, which has since spawned dolls, songs, books, video games, web series, TV specials on Nickelodeon, and direct-to-home video animated films. Universal is also developing a live action musical based on “Monster High.” The characters are the offspring to or related to classic monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, the Mummy, Medusa and the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

    A Hot Wheels movie has sat idling in the development garage. It was first set up in 2003 at Columbia Pictures with McG attached to direct before moving to Warner Bros. and Joel Silver. It’s now at Legendary Pictures, with Joe Roth attached to produce.

    Mattel now sees the formation of Playground Productions as a way to speed up the development and production process on many of its projects, which once released, will help Mattel keep kids interested in its core product and sell more toys. At the same time, Playground Prods could create a lucrative new revenue stream for the company.

    “With top entertainment industry talent, world-class brands and franchises, and best-in-class partners, Playground Productions brings our brands to life on today’s vast media platforms,” said Tim Kilpin, executive VP and general manager of Mattel Global Brands. “By focusing on storytelling as part of the brand development process, we’re able to reinforce our global strategy of building new franchises, growing our core brands, and optimizing entertainment.”
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  2. #2
    Shezar in MOTUC please! The All American's Avatar
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    If this means that Masters of the Universe Classics will get more budget and exposure to continue, I'm all for it.

    I really hope Mattel works towards making a cartoon Masters of the Universe theatrical release for kids. Masters of the Universe is so comprehensive, I don't think it could ever work successfully as live action.

    In the least, we'll probably see a new cartoon TV show, which I hope is also aimed towards kids. Children (new fans) are what made Masters of the Universe, and they're what could make it successful again.

  3. #3
    Heroic Warrior sirsniffy's Avatar
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    This is great actually! It's about time Mattel brands made it back into other forms of media! Movies, TV shows, Web series and related content! Gaming apps...the sky is the limit. I am a He-Man fan, so I hope this means more types of polymorphic content for the Masters brand!

    Score one for the Red Team(Mattel)!

  4. #4
    Heroic Master of Music baileyrecords's Avatar
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    This is definitely a positive move forward. IMO, Mattel really needs a swift kick in delivering more, and better quality, home entertainment for their properties.

    Hopefully we'll see a new animated series for the Mini Masters figure line!
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    Quester JonWes's Avatar
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    Not sure what to think. Creative control sounds nice, but it depends on the people who are doing the creating.
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    Heroic Warrior wayne-klops's Avatar
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    Awesome, sounds promising! Hopefully something MOTU-related this way comes...

  7. #7
    Council Elder Tallstar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonWes View Post
    Not sure what to think. Creative control sounds nice, but it depends on the people who are doing the creating.
    My thoughts exactly.
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    Heroic Warrior Stygian360's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The All American View Post
    If this means that Masters of the Universe Classics will get more budget and exposure to continue, I'm all for it.
    This is about sums up my thoughts---^
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    Fake Casting Agent CocoaSmooth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stygian360 View Post
    This is about sums up my thoughts---^
    Same here. If it means getting a truly complete line then I am all for it.
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    Heroic Warrior hlinhk128's Avatar
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    Maybe I should look into trying to submit something or try to get on staff after I finish my upcoming directing projects. I imagine you wouldn't have to have talent or creative vision to work on a Hot Wheels movie
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    Heroic Warrior WDWFreak53's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hlinhk128 View Post
    Maybe I should look into trying to submit something or try to get on staff after I finish my upcoming directing projects. I imagine you wouldn't have to have talent or creative vision to work on a Hot Wheels movie
    Nope, as long as your script includes multiple uses of the words "Vroom" and "Screeech"

  12. #12
    Door with dental plan. Jawbridge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonWes View Post
    Not sure what to think. Creative control sounds nice, but it depends on the people who are doing the creating.
    Ditto, BUT... with the exact opposite emotion.

    Take complete creative control away from people with less vested interest (DC comics as a possible example), and give it to people with deep knowledge and understanding, who plan to develop the brand for the long term.

    Other entities will of course have a creative outlet while using the brand, but they shouldn't be able to do as they please, possibly creating inconsistent or harmful creative.

    With good creative, you don't need to reboot and rewrite the mythos every time you decide to bring a franchise back into the light. If your goal is to tell a completely different story, then by all means create a new property and don't leverage a property to propel otherwise lack-luster creative. If your goal is to relaunch MOTU, then don't do so in a shortsighted manner, creating harmful presentations of the brand.

    I like it. Just my opinion.

    Could be consolidating existing entities under a single banner to use on title cards for upcoming movies. You never know!

  13. #13
    Quester JonWes's Avatar
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    I don't disagree, but from everything we've heard it seems like Mattel actually has a GREAT deal of creative control over the DC book. Which is what worries me.
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  14. #14
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    Not sure what to think, but any time they can get Masters of the Universe some mainstream press, it's a good thing.

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    Illumina & Cat please! Darkspecter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonWes View Post
    I don't disagree, but from everything we've heard it seems like Mattel actually has a GREAT deal of creative control over the DC book. Which is what worries me.
    I'm with you. It can be a fantastic or terrible thing. Mattel has full control over the bios which very few people seem to enjoy, the mini-comics (which are fairing better) and they seem to have a lot of control over the DC comics (which aren't going over very well for the most part, but are improving).

    I just hope they're learning from what most people enjoy vs dislike about the media they have been putting out. If they're listening to the fans, this will be amazing. Right now it could go either way, though.
    Last edited by Darkspecter; October 16, 2013 at 01:05pm.
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  16. #16
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    Playground Productions is Mattel's New In-House Studio: What does this mean for MOTU?
    That we'll get sub-par quality toons, videogames and films ?

    That all females in these new Mattel medias will get a new kind of clothing : the "skirt-otard" !?

  17. #17
    Door with dental plan. Jawbridge's Avatar
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    I remember being told DC has creative leeway and basic control across the board. This is from my comic guy though. No telling where he read that.

    I at least thought I remembered Scott saying they let DC use their creative skills and try not to get overly involved. Thought I read that here on the org?

  18. #18
    Heroic Warrior Captain Atkin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonWes View Post
    Not sure what to think. Creative control sounds nice, but it depends on the people who are doing the creating.
    My thoughts exactly. If the MOTUC storyline or the DC Comic was put on screen, I would be disappointed.

  19. #19
    Illumina & Cat please! Darkspecter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jawbridge View Post
    I remember being told DC has creative leeway and basic control across the board. This is from my comic guy though. No telling where he read that.

    I at least thought I remembered Scott saying they let DC use their creative skills and try not to get overly involved. Thought I read that here on the org?
    I honestly don't anymore. About the redesigns, I read TG say DC came up with them, but the artists from DC said they had explicit instructions from Mattel how they wanted the characters to look. So...*shrugs* About the story itself...I have no idea. All I know for sure, is the "Secret of the Sword" remake is all Mattel.
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    Heroic Warrior MsMarvel fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonWes View Post
    Not sure what to think. Creative control sounds nice, but it depends on the people who are doing the creating.
    This. Jon makes sense in this senseless mattel motu world.

  21. #21
    Heroic Warrior Lich Leech's Avatar
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    I'd rather have a new MOTU cartoon than a movie. 2/3 of the cartoons were great. 0/1 of the movies were great

  22. #22
    Heroic Warrior erisk's Avatar
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    I think the real question is: How does this jive with the recent Dreamworks announcement about their plans for Masters of the Universe, which apparently is part of their library? Are we looking at two distinct properties? Mattel can produce a show based on the toys and the 200x concepts, while Dreamworks produces a show based on Filmation? This all seems very fuzzy to me.

  23. #23
    Heroic Warrior Masamune's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonWes View Post
    Not sure what to think. Creative control sounds nice, but it depends on the people who are doing the creating.
    This is pretty much my concern. I can't begin to guess at what the potential quality may be for any tv series or videogames that may arise from this.
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  24. #24
    Quester JonWes's Avatar
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    I'm cautiously optimistic. It really just depends on who is in control. A good example of this was the recent Star Trek video game. Paramount was frustrated by many of the lackluster Star Trek games that have come out, so they decided to produce the game in-house. They got a ton of the cast from the movie involved, worked with the movie writers on the story, etc. It sounded like the recipe for something great.

    The result, however, was—by pretty much all accounts from reviewers and players—a disaster. It was certainly a sales disaster. So, bringing things in house can be awesome (think Marvel) or not so awesome (think the Star Trek game.)

    Time will tell!
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  25. #25
    SoH Supporter He-Dad's Avatar
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    I don't see this as a new MOTU opportunity as Sony has movie and Dreamworks seems to have cartoon rights. I think this was probably more to capitalize better on animated films like Barbie and Monster High. Why share the huge profits if they can crank them out themselves. And as the article mentions they are using it for Hot Wheels and Max Steele.

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