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The Kind Of Complicated Road to a Theatrical American Girl Movie

Before toy movies based on dolls were a trend and Mattel had it's own film division, all the way back in 2008, American Girl and Warner Brothers released a little movie into theaters called Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, based on Kit's stories. Despite good reception among critics, the movie underperformed at the box office and didn't turn a profit, leading American Girl to cancel a planned movie musical based on Julie Albright and focus only on direct-to-video movies for the next decade. However, in 2018, something changed. With a new Mattel CEO in Ynon Kreiz, who came from entertainment industry companies like Fox Kids, reality show producer Endemol and video production company Maker Studios, the film division of Mattel was born.


With producer Robbie Brenner at the helm, Mattel put it's sights onto making hands-on big-budget movies based on their own products with Hollywood partners. While only one movie from this company has been released so far, that movie was the cultural phenomenon and billion-dollar grossing movie Barbie. With talent from Barbie refusing to make a sequel, it was clear to Mattel more than ever that they need to utilize their other products if they want to make more movies. It seemed that Mattel knew that - by the time Barbie released in July 2023, there were 45 other movie ideas floating around Mattel Films, one of which was American Girl. But the road to making an American Girl movie wasn't the most smooth ride.


Mattel's quest to make an American Girl movie began in 2018, over five years ago. At first, they partnered with Original Film, a production company known for the Fast and Furious and Sonic the Hedgehog franchises, in the summer of 2018. However, those plans quickly fell by the wayside for unknown reasons, and American Girl was back in the headlines for a new movie in February 2019 - this time, with the studio MGM and Erik Feig, the former head of Lionsgate's film division, producing. At this time, it seemed that this was going to be it! We were finally going to get an American Girl movie! They were looking for writers and everything! As shown yesterday, however? No.


I had my suspicions about both of these parties following through on the promise of an American Girl movie as the years went by and I became more acquainted with the way Hollywood worked. But first, let's start with Erik Feig, as his side of the story is easier to explain. While the American Girl project was announced in February of 2019, in May 2019, Erik opened a new production company called Picturestart. This company focused on more teen/adult centered projects - not the kind of stuff American Girl usually deals with. But subject matter aside, the projects kept piling on at Picturestart. As of 2023, they have a whopping thirty projects in development, not even counting projects that haven't been publicly announced. As other projects became more of a priority to the new company rather than bringing our favorite dolls to the big screen, the project kind of fell by the wayside. And for more reason than one - in 2022, MGM as known in 2019 ceased to exist.


In 2022, MGM was bought out by Amazon, and the executives that were behind the American Girl project left the studio due to the ownership change. By 2023, there was an entirely different team at MGM, now named Amazon MGM Studios, and that's pretty much what happens in Hollywood when a studio is bought by new management. Some projects survive, other projects fall to the wayside. We can assume that despite distributing various American Girl specials on Amazon Prime, Amazon's new MGM executives just weren't interested in making an American Girl movie. Once Amazon bought MGM, Mattel probably got the rights to make an American Girl movie back, and they wasted no time into finding another team to make the movie. They found Paramount Pictures, along with book-based production company Temple Hill, who has produced adaptations of book series like Maze Runner and Twilight (and is in the works on adapting way more books!) and this time, they even found a writer in Lindsey Anderson Beer, who grew up with American Girl dolls and wrote the 2018 Netflix movie Sierra Burgess Is A Loser.


So, who knows what's going to come of this round of "Making An American Girl Doll Movie"? Will we all be at the movie theater in three or four years watching our favorite dolls come to life, or will I be back on this blog in five years posting that yet another studio and writer is going to try to make an American Girl doll movie happen? All this is to say - Barbie fans had to wait fourteen years from the announcement of a Barbie movie to an actual Barbie movie coming out. We might be in this for the long haul, or we might get lucky and actually see this project come to life!



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