Barney the Dinosaur is coming to the big screen, thanks in part to Black Panther star Daniel Kaluuya.
Mattel on Friday announced a partnership with Kaluuya’s production company 59% and Valparaiso Pictures to create a film based on the anthropomorphic purple T-Rex, who became known in the classic 1990s children’s show, Barney & Friends. In a statement, Mattel Film’s head Robbie Brenner noted that the movie would “surprise audiences and subvert expectations” and provide a hit of nostalgia for adults who grew up with the character.
Kaluuya heaped a little drama on the deal, saying that Barney was a “ubiquitous figure on many of our childhoods” who then “disappeared into the shadows, left misunderstood.”
“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,” Kaluuya added.
The original Barney & Friends series started in 1992 and ceased production of new episodes in 2009, but reruns still appear on television via Universal Kids. The show began as a series of home videos under the title Barney and the Backyard Gang in the late 1980s.
Mattel and Kaluuya’s project, however, will be the character’s second time in theaters, following the 1998 release of Barney’s Great Adventure. That film, perhaps not surprisingly, was panned by critics, and has a rating of 26 percent on the movie review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.
“To those of us on the greying side of five years old, Barney looks like an eggplant and has a rigor-mortis smile, no shoulders, a huge rear end and the sort of nervous giggle that makes you think he has something to hide,” Globe and Mail critic Liam Lacey wrote following the last film’s release.
Social media, meanwhile, had a field day with the announcement of the new movie. Some wondered if Barney would get a gritty reboot, while others took issue with Kaluuya’s description of the project.