Two years after announcing that the story of iconic doll Barbie would come to life in a blockbuster film starring Margot Robbie, the production is moving steadily ahead with a new director at the helm, upping the ante for an already highly anticipated project.
In early 2019, Warner Bros. signed a major deal with toy company Mattel to collaborate on Barbie, the first of many projects in Mattel Film’s revamped new film lineup (which will also feature movies about Barney, Hot Wheels, Polly Pocket, and Thomas the Tank Engine) that will focus on the origin story of the popular children’s toy. Robbie will play the most famous blonde in the universe and is also producing the film through her production company LuckyChap.
The reveal of the massive project included the additional news that creative (and romantic) partners Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach had been recruited to co-write the movie’s script, basically ensuring that the story wouldn’t be your run-of-the-mill kids’ film; between them, the duo’s filmography includes Oscar-nominated projects like Fantastic Mr. Fox, Marriage Story, Lady Bird, and Little Women. Adding to the excitement for Barbie is Robbie’s casual giveaway that Gerwig will also be at the helm of the film as its director.
“[Barbie] comes with a lot of baggage! And a lot of nostalgic connection” Robbie shared in her recent cover interview with British Vogue. “But with that come a lot of exciting ways to attack it. People generally hear ‘Barbie’ and think, ‘I know what that movie is going to be,’ and then they hear that Greta Gerwig is writing and directing it, and they’re like, ‘Oh, well, maybe I don’t...’”
We won’t be able to see what approach Gerwig and Robbie take for the live action story for another few years; the film is scheduled to officially begin production next year so that it can be released globally in 2023. While it’s difficult to predict what exactly Barbie's plot will be about, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the stakes for this project are quite high.
There’s a lot of lore to consider for this particular narrative — Barbie is a beloved toy and role model for generations of people all over the world, and she continues to gain popularity through the sale of dolls in her image as well as the continued release of animated movies and webshorts. A new take on this story would have to embody Barbie's quintessential charm while also cleverly tackling the inevitable struggles that the character might face as a woman navigating the many nuances of the real world. Creating a modern and interesting backstory that also pleases the millions of people who grew up with the character will be no easy feat.