This is one partnership we weren’t expecting…
American singer, actress and Latin pop sensation Jennifer Lopez is producing a Bob The Builder movie, with In The Heights star Anthony Ramos voicing the title character.
The film will be a Latin American spin on the classic British children’s series, created by Keith Chapman and aired for the first time in 1999 on BBC TV. The show ran for 12 seasons.
The original series follows the adventures of Bob, a cheerful general contractor specialising in masonry and conflict resolution. The character became famous through his catchphrase “Can we fix it?” – to which the other characters respond with “Yes we can!”
This phrase also became the show’s theme song, which was a million-selling number one hit in the UK.
The new film will follow Roberto (aka Bob) as he travels to Puerto Rico for a major construction job.
As per the film’s official longline, audiences will see Bob as he “takes on issues affecting the island and digs deeper into what it means to build. Bob’s journey will celebrate the vibrant and colourful textures of the Caribbean Latin nations and their people.”
Cue: outraged Daily Mail readers who will doubtlessly cry “wokery gone mad” and bemoan that a “quintessentially British” character is getting a race-swap treatment. It’s so predictable at this point, it’s not enraging anymore – it’s just sad.
Bob The Builder joins a number of Mattel films in development, including a live-action Barney movie with Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya, the Vin Diesel-led Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, and American Girl.
Other upcoming projects include the Netflix animated series Masters of the Universe: Revolution, centered on Mattel’s He-Man franchise, and a live-action Polly Pocket film, directed by Lena Dunham and based on the tiny 1980’s dolls by Mattel.
Mattel, one of the largest toy companies in the world, has been lining up new big screen adaptations as a result of Greta Gerwig’s hugely successful Barbie, which grossed $1.4 billion at the global box office. The film recently received eight Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.
A director has not yet been announced for the Bob The Builder film, but Colombian-American writer Felipe Vargas, best known for his short films which merge magical realist tales with sci-fi and even horror elements, is attached to write the screenplay.
“Pairing Anthony and Felipe’s genius vision for the story will capture this beloved character in a manner that audiences who grew up with Bob will recognise, and all-new audiences will enjoy,” said Robbie Brenner, president of Mattel Films.
Ramos said Bob the Builder carries an “important message” to the big screen.
“For years, Bob the Builder’s characters have inspired young people around the world,” he said. “A movie about friends working together, a celebration of a beautiful home they share, and how love can help to conquer any obstacle in your way. Can we fix it? Yes, we can!”
“The show’s ability to promote positive thinking, problem-solving and empowerment with a completely original story set in Puerto Rico puts a new spin on a beloved brand,” said Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, who is producing with Benny Medina for Lopez’s company Nuyorican Productions. “We can’t wait for new and existing fans to connect with these amazing characters.”