Barney may be a dinosaur from our imaginations, but this live-action movie is very much real. Yes, in case you forgot, that purple dinosaur that delighted children and significantly irritated parents from the late 80s to 2010 was slated for a live-action movie a few years ago. Even though talk about it hasn’t been in the headlines since then, he hasn’t gone away. He still loves you, and Oscar winner Daniel Kaluuya is still hard at work at making the movie happen.
Though he’s been acting since far before 2017, that was the year he was featured as Chris in Jordan Peele‘s blockbuster horror film, “Get Out.” His career quickly picked up steam landing him a role in “Black Panther” and perhaps more importantly, “Judas and the Black Messiah,” where he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. The success allowed him to start up his own production company, 59%. Many actors enter into the production field after they achieve success, but not many would announce that their goal is to produce a live-action film based on Barney the Dinosaur, yet that’s what Kaluuya wanted.
In fairness, kid’s movies are big business that tend to have a lot of longevity as they’re passed down from parent to child. Not to mention there’s the matter of merchandising involved, which is partly why Mattel is partnering with Kaluuya on this to bring the project to life. As for how far it is into its life cycle, it still hasn’t left its infancy period for the most part. 59% is reportedly still working on the script before setting up a production schedule. So we’re still probably a ways out before we see Barney come to life again.
What’s truly surprising when you look at Barney as a property, is its enduring popularity. When people think of Barney, they’re likely recalling episodes of “Barney & Friends” which ran from 1992 – 2010 on PBS. But the dinosaur’s origins actually predate that, going back to 1988 and the direct-to-video series, “Barney & The Backyard Gang.” For something to be so successful as to start as a video cassette release, only to then transition to network television is something pretty astounding. And despite their not being any new Barney releases in 12 years, he’s still known amongst kids today, largely thanks to the scars left in the minds of parents who grew up with him.
It will certainly be interesting to see where Kaluuya takes this property. With Mattel attached, you can pretty much guarantee it’s not going to stray too far from a merchandisable strategy but that doesn’t mean it can’t still have some value to it. That being the case, we’d pay good money to see if Kaluuya could get Peele to write the script for it. Then we’d have something to REALLY look forward to.
I guess in the meantime we’ll have to settle for Kaluuya appearing in Peele’s next film, “Nope,” hitting theaters on July 22nd.