The No. 1 card game in the world according to the NPD Group is headed to the big screen.
Mattel Inc. revealed plans to develop UNO into a live-action film produced under its Mattel Films banner alongside Grammy-nominated rapper Lil Yachty. The film is said to be an “action heist comedy set in the underground hip hop world of Atlanta.” Marcy Kelly penned the screenplay and Quality Control’s Kevin “Coach K” Lee, Pierre “P” Thomas, and Brian Sher will produce for Quality Films. Robbie Brenner, executive producer, and Kevin McKeon, supervising producer, will lead the project for Mattel Films.
“At Mattel Films, we are looking to explore stories that bring our brands to life in unexpected ways,” says Brenner. “UNO is a game that transcends generations and cultures and we look forward to partnering with Lil Yachty, as well as with Coach, P, and Brian Sher, to transform the classic UNO game into a comedic action-adventure.”
Yachty is also eyeing a starring role in the project.
“I’m so excited to be part of this film with Mattel,” Yachty says. “I played UNO as a kid and still do today, so to spin that into a movie based on the Atlanta hip hop scene I came out of is really special. It hits close to home for me.”
The basic history of UNO is a famous one — the oft-recounted tale of Merle Robbins, an Ohio barbershop owner and card game enthusiast, who created the game and sold the original version out of his barbershop. Over Thanksgiving weekend in 1971, the game caught the attention of Robert Tezak — owner of a funeral parlor in Joliet — who became hooked. The following year, Tezak made a deal with Robbins to take over UNO, and International Games was formed. Following decades of massive success, International Games was acquired by Mattel in 1992 and UNO has remained a smash hit ever since. Mattel says that 17 decks are sold every minute as UNO is now available in more than 80 countries around the world.
Mattel recently revealed full plans to celebrate 50 years of UNO with a yearlong celebration filled with new products, events, and partnerships.
Beyond UNO, Mattel Films has 10 additional features in various stages of development, including titles based on American Girl, Barbie, Barney, Hot Wheels, Magic 8 Ball, Major Matt Mason, Masters of the Universe, Thomas & Friends, View-Master, and Wishbone. As of last fall, Mattel Television had 17 shows and specials in active production with more than 25 in development, including The UNO Game Show and the recently announced Whac-A-Mole.