Will Disney Try to Sign Mattel’s Ynon Kreiz?

The Barbie movie continues to beat box office records. Here is how NY Times writer James B. Stewart describes it in his article, “Mattel’s Windfall From ‘Barbie’:”

“Barbie” is close to grossing $1.4 billion and passed one of the “Harry Potter” movies as the top-grossing Warner Bros. film of all time. It could end up near the $2 billion mark. (The record-holder is 2009’s “Avatar,” at $2.9 billion.)

According to Mr. Stewart, much of the credit goes to Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz, who he describes as:

An Israeli military veteran with dual Israeli and British citizenship, a former professional wind surfer, an avid kite surfer and a fitness buff, with more than a passing resemblance to a younger Arnold Schwarzenegger

When Mr. Kreiz came on board, one of his first moves was ending the relationship with Sony, which had been kicking around a Barbie movie for years and had yet to progress. Mr. Kreiz dropped Sony and signed up with Warner Bros. He then gave full reign to producer Robbie Brenner, author and director Greta Gerwig, and actor Margot Robbie to make a film that broke the rules.

The result was an amazing group of talented people given permission to be their best.

A few years ago, when Mattel hired Margo Georgiadis away from Google. I compared it to hiring a jet pilot to drive a train. Margo couldn’t get the plane off the ground and left, vacating the seat to Ynon Kreiz.

Obviously, Mr. Kreiz can make trains fly. In his heart, he’s a media guy, and he brought that to bear with Mattel and, by doing so, created a cultural moment for Mattel’s biggest star, Barbie, and set the company on a new path.

If Mr. Kreiz were a college football player, he would be up for the Heisman and the number one draft-pick. If he were a coach, every team would try to hire him away. He is neither, but he is a hell of a CEO.

Which raises the question, will Disney, who is currently in the midst of a continuing train wreck, try to hire him away from Mattel. Mr. Kreiz is something special. It will be interesting to see what path he chooses.

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