The company that built its brand on distinctive movie print promotions won’t be making them at all
Treasure your Mondo posters even more now. They won’t be making any more… at all.
Earlier this week, Funko unceremoniously laid off most of the staff of Mondo, the Austin-based company whose distinctive and idiosyncratic movie posters, collectibles and records were the go-to ephemera for discerning movie-lovers, three individuals with knowledge told TheWrap.
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They killed the poster division, which is a shock considering that’s how Mondo started, along with a division meant for cutting-edge experiences and products called The Lab, which was run by Mondo co-founder Rob Jones, who was also laid off during the process. (Mitch Putnam, another co-founder, also got the axe.) One insider with knowledge suggested that the poster line could continue, but when pressed on whether the company will just be releasing posters already worked on by Jones, Putnam and Mondo creative director Eric Garza or if they’d be putting out brand new posters, the answer was unclear.
As of now, the only two divisions of the company that remain are the toys and records divisions. But insiders tell TheWrap it’s unclear how long those divisions will remain as part of the Funko portfolio.
Funko Buys Mondo From Alamo Drafthouse
Funko purchased Mondo less than a year ago from Alamo Drafthouse, in a deal that added some major cool cred to the Funko brand, known mostly for its Funko Pop figures. (More than one person has described Funko Pops as the original, physical NFTs and it’s hard to argue with that.)
At the time, Mondo was trying to find its identity and was looking for a home. It had previously been part of the Alamo Drafthouse organization, which went through a restructuring and sale following the pandemic. (Drafthouse emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2021.) Funko seemed like a promising corporate partner; both brands could help one another. And at San Diego Comic-Con last year, Mondo was a huge presence in the oversized Funko booth, which included a main street and separate stores (Mondo was the hip record store).
Earlier this month, Funko revealed that it suffered a loss in the fourth quarter of 2022 and that it would destroy between $30 million and $36 million worth of inventory and lay off 10% of its staff. TheWrap has learned that many of those cuts landed on Mondo. This followed the announcement in December that Funko company founder Brian Mariotti would return as CEO and that former Walmart.com CEO Steve Nave would serve as Funko’s COO and CFO.
The development is crushing news to the industry, to the employees that it affected and to the rabid fan base that consumed Mondo product feverishly and devotedly.
If you’re unfamiliar with Mondo, it worked with the brightest artists in the business, coming up with one-of-a-kind takes on well-known properties. Some of these posters have become downright legendary in their own right (think Olly Moss’ “Star Wars” trilogy set, or his posters for Hayao Miyazaki movies or Jock’s take on “The Thing”), with the company branching out to equally sought-after collectibles (like a massive figure based on Brad Bird’s “The Iron Giant”) and vinyl records (like a box set for the first season of “The Mandalorian,” which each episode getting its own record).
Mondo was founded in 2004, nearly 20 years ago, and at one point was so successful it had its own convention, MondoCon, held in Austin alongside the Alamo Drafthouse’s Fantastic Fest. In recent years, the company had done lavish shows with Disney and the record division had been on fire, releasing deluxe versions of your favorite soundtracks and even an original album by Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino (“Rogue One,” “The Incredibles,” “The Batman”), produced during the pandemic.
The tenuous, if not outright combative relationship that the company once had with studios and major labels had been replaced in recent years by genuine brand partnerships and those relationships were forged by the hardworking employees that no longer have jobs.
And while, at least initially, the Funko/Mondo partnership seemed like a good fit, cracks soon began to surface. When Jones formed his passion project The Lab, he proposed some really cool, outside-the-box ideas (a show devoted to “Peanuts” with captions in brain, limited edition capsule collections of merchandise and posters) that Funko just couldn’t get behind. These kind of wild ideas were the bedrock of the Mondo brand, once upon a time, but as with any corporate acquisition, all the rough edges were being smoothed away. And all that was left was a dead-eyed “Cocaine Bear” Funko figure.
If you have a Mondo figure or poster or vinyl that you truly love and cherish, hold onto it even tighter now. It doesn’t just signify a movie that you love, it is now a totem from a bygone era.
An earlier version of this story stated the poster production had halted. It has been updated to reflect a new individual with knowledge who stated the poster business may continue.
Drew Taylor is a reporter at TheWrap. Before joining the organization in 2021, Drew was a freelance film journalist with a keen interest in animation and Disney history. Drew has been covering film, television and theme parks for 15 years. He has written for the New York Times, the New York Daily News, Time Out New York, Collider, The Playlist, Polygon, Vulture, Box Office Magazine, AOL Travel and Syfy. He was the executive editor and social media manager for Moviefone before it was purchased by MoviePass. Additionally, Drew co-created and co-hosts “Light the Fuse,” a weekly podcast dedicated to the “Mission: Impossible” film franchise that recently celebrated its 200th episode milestone. He also authored the book “The Art of Onward,” about the making of Pixar’s 2020 fantasy film, and provided liner notes for several Mondo vinyl releases for Pixar features (“Up,” “Coco” and “Lightyear”).