But the bizarre Barbie movie (first proposed in 2014) is finally in production. Warner Bros. even released two first-look images of Margot Robbie as Barbie, smiling in a bubble-gum-coloured car, and a very ripped Ryan Gosling in a sleeveless denim jacket. Further images have since surfaced showing the pair roller skating around Venice Beach together. Although the movie is a trivial, capitalistic exercise from the outside, a lot rides on its quality – especially when considering the brand’s revised feminism, introducing Barbies of varying careers, races and body types.
Barbie could demonstrate how far or how little the culture has come. Here’s everything we know about the film.
Margot Robbie as Barbie. Photo: Warner Bros.
How long had Barbie been in development?
Barbie started as a collaboration between Sony Pictures and toy company Mattel. The first script was written by Jenny Bicks (The Greatest Showman, Sex and the City). Diablo Cody (Tully) came in for rewrites, but then that script was chucked for a new script written by Hilary Winston (The Lego Ninjago Movie).
In 2016, Amy Schumer (Life & Beth) signed a deal to star as Barbie as well as rewrite Winston’s script with her sister Kim Caramele. In 2017, Schumer pulled out. At the time, she cited scheduling conflicts but revealed in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter that Sony ‘definitely didn’t want to do it the way I wanted to do it, the only way I was interested in doing it.’ She cited a script edit, in which she was told her 'ambitious inventor' Barbie should create a high heel made of Jell-O.
Anne Hathaway (WeCrashed) was then rumoured to be Schumer’s replacement, with Olivia Milch (Ocean's Eight) hired to rewrite the script. But that also fell through. Sony Pictures eventually decided Barbie was too much hassle, and so gave it to Warner Bros. Milch’s version of the script was chucked, as were the original producers, but the development process was finally speeding up.
To considerable criticism, Margot Robbie was confirmed as the lead in 2019. This was soon followed by the news that indie filmmaking couple Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach were co-writing Barbie together. In 2021, Gerwig was announced as the director – Barbie being her third film following Lady Bird and Little Women.
All of this generates an uncomfortable mixture of feelings. Robbie’s casting is problematic considering the overwhelming controversies around the often unrealistic body shapes of Barbie dolls – especially after Schumer exited the project. How feministic can Barbie really be?
However, Robbie has worked hard in the industry to promote female talent – her company LuckyChap Entertainment, formed in 2014, aims to show women’s stories on screen. Notable projects include I, Tonya, Promising Young Woman, and now Barbie. And then there’s Gerwig, who's already provided two beautiful and nuanced films about female characters. All of this points to somewhere good, but this writer remains cautious.
the Barbie plot?
Despite several scripts and several rewrites, little is known about the plot of Barbie. Schumer and Caramele’s attempt followed a Barbie who’s ostracised from Barbieland for not being perfect enough, which sounds like a perfectly enjoyable premise.
Considering the indie flavours of Gerwig and Baumbach, who are also making an adaptation of Don DeLillo’s White Noise, you wonder if they’ll be able to pull off a potential blockbuster.
Ncuti Gatwa and Connor Swindells in Sex Education. Photo: Netflix
Who’s in the Barbie cast?
Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling play the central Malibu couple Barbie and Ken, though many Barbies and Kens are rumoured to feature in the film. Sex Education fans should rejoice at the casting of Ncuti Gatwa, Connor Swindells and Emma Mackey.
The film also stars Emerald Fennell (The Crown, Promising Young Woman), Issa Rae (Insecure), Rhea Perlman (Better Call Saul), Michael Cera (Life & Beth), America Ferrera (WeCrashed), Sharon Rooney (Finding Alice, My Mad Fat Diary), Kingsley Ben-Adir (One Night in Miami), Kate McKinnon (Yesterday), Jamie Demetriou (Stath Rents Flats, Fleabag) and Will Ferrell.
Emerald Fennell in The Crown. Photo: Netflix
What’s the Barbie release date?
Warner Bros. have confirmed that Barbie will release in UK cinemas on Friday 21 July 2023. That is, if nothing else goes wrong during production.
|What||The Barbie movie: Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, revealed|
21 Jul 23 – 21 Jul 24, IN CINEMAS
|Price||£ determined by cinemas|
|Website||Click here for more information|