Before President Donald Trump’s pick for treasury secretary began amassing a swath of Hollywood credits, he was breaking into executive producing by backing a bunch of colorful kiddie toys.
Steve Mnuchin first built his IMDb.com dossier out of Legos.
When “The Lego Batman Movie” opened Friday, Mnuchin’s name was featured in the closing credits. And Trump’s Cabinet nominee — he awaits a confirmation vote after Democrats last month boycotted a Senate hearing — should also receive an executive producer credit in September, when Warner Bros.’ “Lego Ninjago Movie” opens.
The tagline on that latter film is: “Find your inner piece.” And the first piece of Munchin’s exec-producing portfolio landed Feb. 7, 2014, when “The Lego Movie” opened to blockbuster business with a $70 million domestic debut. The Oscar-nominated PG film involving toy “master builders” would go on to gross nearly a half-billion dollars worldwide on a reported $60 million production budget.
One week after the animated “Lego Movie” opened, Mnuchin’s live-action “Winter’s Tale” was released, followed by such hits as the Tom Cruise-starring “Edge of Tomorrow” ($370 million worldwide), Paul Thomas Anderson’s Oscar-nominated “Inherent Vice” and Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-winning “American Sniper.”
Since then, Mnuchin has had hits (“Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Sully”) and misses (“Pan,” “In the Heart of the Sea”), including two films that suited up a superheroic Ben Affleck: “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad.” His name is also on last year’s animated “Storks” and “The Accountant,” and he appeared on screen last year as a Merrill Lynch banker in Warren Beatty’s biopic “Rules Don’t Apply,” for which he helped cover the costs.
Eight years before “The Lego Movie,” the 54-year-old former Goldman Sachs banker and hedge-fund manager created Dune Entertainment, which helped finance blockbusters such as “Avatar” and the X-Men franchise, as well as such cartoon crossovers as “Marmaduke” and a “Garfield” sequel. Then in 2013, it merged to form RatPac-Dune Entertainment, which, in its partnership with Warner Bros., is helping to bring such DC superheroes as Wonder Woman and the Flash to the screen.
Mnuchin — who became Trump’s campaign finance chairman in spring — has also been bedeviled by his brief, controversial teaming with the still-struggling Relativity Media, which last year emerged from Chapter 11 protection; just this month, he was named in a fraud lawsuit brought against Relativity by RKA film financing.
But now, if he becomes treasury secretary, will he leave Hollywood entirely? Last month, it was widely reported that Mnuchin plans to divest his interest in more than 80 Warner Bros. films, which would include not only billion-dollar superheroes like Batman, but also all those Lego franchise bucks.
Then again, Mnuchin would still be going to work for a Gotham-sprung, tower-dwelling billionaire who famously said, “I am Batman.”