Amazon has revealed that it’s inked a deal with toy manufacturing giant Mattel to produce four live-action specials of American Girl, the multi-ethnicity range of dolls made famous in the 1980s.
Launched originally in 1986, the firm behind the American Girl dolls — Pleasant Company — was acquired by Mattel in 1998, and the brand has gone from strength to strength with retail stores selling dolls, clothes, and accessories. There have been a number of American Girl-themed TV movies in the past too, but with the might of Amazon behind it, Mattel is hoping to gain mindshare among new audiences 30 years after the dolls first appeared.
“Partnering with Amazon shows our commitment to innovation and to bringing content to our customers where, when, and how they want to watch it,” said Catherine Balsam-Schwaber, chief content officer at Mattel.
The four specials will arrive on Amazon Prime Video in the U.S., U.K., Germany, and Austria later this year. If successful, Amazon has the option to produce “multiple seasons of episodic content” based on the brand.
Founded in 1945, Mattel is one of the most well-known toy companies in the world, responsible for brands such as Fisher-Price, Barbie, and Matchbox. But with the shifting sands of technology, Mattel has also been pushing new boundaries as it looks to stay relevant in the digital age. Last year, Mattel and Google teamed up to bring its age-old View-Master into the virtual reality realm. It also partnered with Autodesk to let kids design and 3D-print their own toys.
While Mattel already had its own in-house film studio, Playground Productions, that focuses on “cross-platform” multimedia productions, the power of Amazon as a production and distribution partner shouldn’t be underestimated. And from Amazon’s perspective, original content is key if it’s to stay competitive with Netflix.