After more than 40 years, Hello Kitty is finally getting her close-up.
New Line Cinema, a division of Warner Bros., has won rights to a feature-film version of the famous cartoon character, according to The New York Times. The silent, bow-wearing critter—whose status as a cat has been a point of contention in the past—has never appeared in film form, despite being the face of more than 50,000 products, including handbags and T-shirts. The character, first introduced in 1974, has also appeared in balloon form for years as part of Macy’s annual Thanksgiving parade.
The Times notes that the Hello Kitty empire is worth an estimated $6 billion. Yet Sanrio Co., which owns the character, has long resisted efforts to adapt Hello Kitty for the screen. One obstacle: The character has no mouth. In 2010, it was reported than an animated pilot featuring a talking Hello Kitty had been scrapped after fans complained. That same year, the company was reportedly worried that the sales of Hello Kitty merchandise were losing steam in Japan.
A movie version of Hello Kitty would certainly help boost the brand’s appeal. Producer Beau Flynn, who has overseen such action films as Rampage and San Andreas, spent years pursuing the rights to the film. No directors or writers have been formally attached to the film (though if they are, producers are staying mum, Hello Kitty-style).
The character will eventually join several other high-profile, kid-friendly brands that are headed to theaters: Warner Bros. will release Pokémon: Detective Pikachu in May; Oscar-nominated I, Tonya star Margot Robbie is slated to star in a big-screen Barbie film; and a movie based on the 1980s toy line M.A.S.K. is also in development.