Gabriela Revilla Lugo | Source: Mattel

Mattel Films is starting development on its 14th feature film project, the first to be created based on an original story that’s not directly based on a brand from the company’s toy and game portfolio.

Writer-producer Gabriela Revilla Lugo (ABC’s A Million Little Things) has been tapped to pen the screenplay for Christmas Balloon, a tale inspired by a true story.

Christmas Balloon follows Dáyami, a little girl in a Mexican border town who launches a letter to the North Pole attached to a helium-filled balloon. When the balloon falls short of its destination and lands in Arizona, it’s discovered by Randy and Marcella Heiss, a couple whose loss of their only son inspired a journey to fulfill Dáyami’s Christmas wishes.

“I am honored to bring Dáyami’s journey to life in a time when it’s clear we all need to believe in hope and magic,” Revilla Lugo says.

The real events took place in 2018, and among the items on Dáyami’s list for Santa were an Enchantimals doll and dollhouse — both made by Mattel.

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“Much like Dáyami’s balloon itself, the journey of this touching story and Mattel’s direct role in fulfilling her real-life wishes made it a must-do for us,” says Mattel Films Vice President Kevin McKeon. “We were immediately struck by this little girl’s spirit and the story’s positive message. We also knew there was no one better to tell her story with passion and sensitivity than Gabriela. We are proud to work with her, along with Vital Pictures, to bring this touching family drama to audiences around the world.”

McKeon and Mattel Films Vice President and Executive Producer Robbie Brenner previously worked with Revilla Lugo on Tribes of Palos Verdes. McKeon and creative executive Ivan Sanchez are leading Christmas Balloon for Mattel Films. Chris Lemos and Luis Guerrero (Beneath Us, The War Below) of Vital Pictures will produce.

Christmas Balloon joins other Mattel Films projects in development including movies based on American GirlBarbieBarneyHot WheelsMagic 8 Ball, Major Matt Mason, Masters of the Universe, Polly PocketRock ‘Em Sock ‘Em RobotsThomas & FriendsUNOView Master, and Wishbone.

About the author

James Zahn

James Zahn

James Zahn, AKA The Rock Father, is Editor-in-Chief of The Toy Book, a Senior Editor at The Toy Insider and The Pop Insider, and Editor of The Toy Report, The Toy Book‘s weekly industry newsletter. As a pop culture and toy industry expert, Zahn has appeared as a panelist and guest at events including Comic-Con International: San Diego (SDCC) Wizard World Chicago, and the ASTRA Marketplace & Academy. Zahn has more than 30 years of experience in the entertainment, retail, and publishing industries, and is frequently called upon to offer expert commentary for publications such as Forbes, Marketwatch, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, Reuters, the Washington Post, and more. James has appeared on History Channel’s Modern Marvels, was interviewed by Larry King and Anderson Cooper, and has been seen on Yahoo! Finance, CNN, CNBC, FOX Business, NBC, ABC, CBS, WGN, The CW, and more. Zahn joined the Adventure Media & Events family in 2016, initially serving as a member of the Parent Advisory Board after penning articles for the Netflix Stream Team, Fandango Family, PBS KIDS, Sprout Parents (now Universal Kids), PopSugar, and Chicago Parent. He eventually joined the company full time as a Senior Editor and moved up the ranks to Deputy Editor and Editor-in-Chief.