Barney & Friends is a great PBS show for very small children. It’s not as good as Sesame Street or Mister Rogers Neighborhood, but it’s fine for what it is. It keeps young ones entertained and imparts a positive message. However, I’m not really sure it’s meant for the big screen, and the reason I know this is that in 1998, when the show was pretty popular, there was Barney’s Great Adventure, which grossed $12 million. That’s not bad for a pre-school property, but there’s a ceiling because you’re asking a lot of parents to take very small children out of their home and to a movie theater where they’ll be required to sit still for the length of a motion picture.
It seems like a losing proposition, but actor and producer Daniel Kaluuya wants to give a Barney movie another shot. A press release announces that Kaluuya is set to produce the film through his 59% production company in partnership with Mattel Films. “Barney was a ubiquitous figure in many of our childhoods, then he disappeared into the shadows, left misunderstood,” said Kaluuya. “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.”
It seems like I made up that quote. I promise you I did not.
Barney joins other Mattel properties in various stages of development including Hot Wheels, Masters of the Universe, and Barbie. For all of Barney’s message about “I love you, you love me,” what Mattel really loves is IP because if a Barney movie comes into existence, they can sell a bunch of Barney merchandise that’s not really moving right now because the show went off the air in 2009. Again, I don’t think Barney is going to land in the same way something like Sesame Street would where you’ve got multiple generations invested plus the presence of muppets. Barney is for a very young age group and I think the character is remembered more with annoyance than fondness.