‘Barbie’ covers Time: The trials & tribulations of getting ‘Barbie’ to the screen

I have to admit, I am practically squealing with delight whenever some new Barbie marketing drops. The Warner Bros marketing team and Mattel marketing team have just done a completely fantastic job with all of the product collaborations, all of junket fabulousness, all of the media arrangements. The Barbie team covers this week’s Time Magazine and my only disappointment here is that we need more PINK. But I get it – we shouldn’t overload on pink before Barbie. Time’s cover story is basically the story of how Barbie got made, although if you’re interested, I thought Margot Robbie’s recent Vogue interview was a much more comprehensive narrative of how Margot put the project together as a producer. Time puts more of an emphasis on Mattel’s side of things, and it’s clear that Mattel’s corporate dudes don’t completely understand Greta Gerwig’s vision, but they have high hopes that this will be Mattel’s signature franchise. Some highlights from Time:

The now infamous shot of Margot’s feet keeping the arch: The shot took eight takes. She had to hold onto a bar to keep her feet flexed. And, yes, those are her feet. “I really don’t like it when someone else does my hands or feet in an insert shot,” she says.

Gerwig thinks the movie is a miracle: Whatever audiences ultimately think of Barbie, Gerwig still can’t seem to believe she got away with making this version. “This movie is a g-ddamn miracle,” she says. She calls it a “surprising spicy margarita.” By the time you realize the salted rim has cayenne mixed in, it’s too late. “You can already taste the sweetness and you sort of go with the spice.”

Mattel did fight with Gerwig & Robbie: At one point Richard Dickson, COO and president of Mattel, says he took a flight to the London set to argue with Gerwig and Robbie over a particular scene, which he felt was off-brand. Dickson dials up his natural boyish exuberance, imitating himself righteously marching off the plane to meet them. But Gerwig and Robbie performed the scene for him and changed his mind. “When you look on the page, the nuance isn’t there, the delivery isn’t there,” explains Robbie.

Robbie on her meeting with Mattel’s CEO Ynon Kreiz: “In that very first meeting, we impressed upon Ynon we are going to honor the legacy of your brand, but if we don’t acknowledge certain things—if we don’t say it, someone else is going to say it. So you might as well be a part of that conversation.”

Robbie wouldn’t have done the film if she was the only Barbie: “If [Mattel] hadn’t made that change to have a multiplicity of Barbies, I don’t think I would have wanted to attempt to make a Barbie film. I don’t think you should say, ‘This is the one version of what Barbie is, and that’s what women should aspire to be and look like and act like.’”

Issa Rae on playing President Barbie: Rae argues that the entire point of the film is to portray a world in which there isn’t a singular ideal. “My worry was that it was going to feel too white feminist-y, but I think that it’s self-aware. Barbie Land is perfect, right? It represents perfection. So if perfection is just a bunch of white Barbies, I don’t know that anybody can get on board with that.”

Is Barbie a feminist movie? Brenner called Gerwig’s film “not a feminist movie,” a sentiment echoed by other Mattel executives I spoke with. It was a striking contrast to my interpretation of the film and conversations with many of the actors, who used that term unprompted to describe the script. When I relay Mattel’s words to Robbie, she raises an eyebrow. “Who said that?” she asks then sighs. “It’s not that it is or it isn’t. It’s a movie. It’s a movie that’s got so much in it.” The bigger point, Robbie impresses upon me, is “we’re in on the joke. This isn’t a Barbie puff piece.”

Robbie on Mattel’s desire for more Barbie movies: “It could go a million different directions from this point. But I think you fall into a bit of a trap if you try and set up a first movie whilst also planning for sequels.”

[From Time]

I’ve come out of the Barbie promotional campaign with an enormous respect for Margot Robbie. I’ve always respected her, to be fair, but holy hell, what a producer. She was involved in every aspect of this, yet she was also smart enough to delegate to smart and talented creatives, all while she acted as a middleman between Gerwig and Mattel’s more conservative vision. At the end of the day, Mattel is happy and Gerwig made the film she wanted to make and everyone’s in love with Margot. I would be very interested to see what Margot’s contract entails, and whether it even has language about sequels. She did a bang-up job here – Mattel clearly wants her to play Barbie forever, but she’s opened up the Barbie Cinematic Universe so much that the next Barbie film could have an entirely different cast. A Barbie multiverse.

Cover courtesy of Time, additional posters & screencaps courtesy of Warner Bros.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

28 Responses to “‘Barbie’ covers Time: The trials & tribulations of getting ‘Barbie’ to the screen”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Midnight@theOasis says:

    I do hope the movie does well but I have zero interest in seeing this.

    • aang says:


      • BothSidesNow says:

        Me too, unfortunately.

        But I do hope that the film does well for Robbie and Gerwig as the lack of female producers, directors and behind the scenes characters need representation still to this day for the big studios to invest into them. They should all get the $$$$ and the green light just as the male producers, directors and etc.

      • Jennifer says:

        Same. I don’t get the hype. But then again, I’m sick of all movies so maybe we don’t go on my opinion 😛

      • Cass says:


        You cant complain about the lack of female diversity in film and then not support the movies that do have females in front of and behind the scenes. These movies don’t get made based on interest and ability to make money. Which is why superhero films do well, guys support them

    • shanaynay says:

      Same here!

  2. Jules says:

    I can’t wait! Same for Mr Jules and the young (tween/teen) Jules’s 🙂

  3. Prairiegirl says:

    I’m here for this movie! Greta Gerwig, who has a very specific point of view, needs to preside over the Barbie multiverse the way Kevin Feige controls Marvel’s multiverse. Otherwise what a mess that multiverse would be! IMHO.

  4. Jais says:

    Oppenheimer who?😂 My college-aged niece just stayed with me and she and her mom were shopping for pink outfits to wear to this movie.

  5. Seraphina says:

    I fell in love with Margot in I, Tonya. She is a wonderful actress and love what she brings to her roles. I don’t have much interest in this and may catch it when ability to rent it comes out – only to see how she brought Barbie to life.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      For me it was Focus with Will Smith. Though I did enjoy her in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot as well, but I was able to see her full scope in Focus. She was an endearing and excepting talented in that movie. I could tell that she could be lined up with big name like Smith and hold her own.

      And I agree with Kaiser that the Vogue article is much more interesting and informative than that Time magazine.

      • Twizspliz says:

        She was at her best in Z for Zachariah. Also in Suite Francaise. Underrated. Picks dubious projects though; I have little interest in this film or Harley Quinn, etc. Best of luck to Margot as she really can act.

  6. SAS says:

    I loved the hilariously breathless tweet in relation to the idea being raised of sequels: “Omg Barbie is going to be my Fast and the Furious” LOL.

  7. ariel says:

    This is the first movie i have wanted to go see in the theatre since pre-covid.
    Heck, i may even take off work that Friday it opens and go see an early show (or i may wait a few weeks, to avoid crowds).

    But as a 51 who spent countless hours playing with Barbies- and Barbie companions (hello Tracy the Bride Barbie) i love how much fun this movie seems to be.

    • Snuffles says:

      Me too. Although if I do go, I’ll probably go to an early show and sit way in the back.

      I had Barbies growing up too. Black and white. And I was one of this girls who tried to cut and dye my Barbie’s hair. I also remember being INSANELY jealous of my neighbor who had every Barbie accessory under the sun. I would bring my Barbie over to play with her and she refused to let me play with any of the cool stuff. I got so mad I tried to make my own Barbie toys. I pretended my closet was a high rise apartment building and rigged up a shoe box and string to be the elevator. It wasn’t quite the same.

      I have complicated Barbie feelings. I guess that’s why I’m so curious to see this. I love that the Barbie and Ken’s are so diverse in the movie.

  8. thaisajs says:

    My 10-year-old daughter and I have watched the trailers for this movie about 159 times already. She’s more excited to see this movie than she was when I took her to Disney World. Both of us had Barbies growing up but weren’t really “Barbie girls.” But we are 100 percent going to be there opening weekend.

    If this movie doesn’t live up to the trailers I’m going to be so, so disappointed.

  9. Coco says:

    I’ve been disappointed with the fashion and Magazine covers and photos. The Barbie movie is fun and colorful so they can push it, but it’s been lukewarm Barbie core is a thing why are they not running with that? This Time cover is boring, and if the ladies had been in all pink it would have been eye-catching and probably would’ve sold so many physical copies just for collectible alone. The red carpets have been nothing to write home about and unforgettable.

    The Vogue photo shoot was just awkward, cheap, and boring. Margot in front of a plain, pink backdrop, hunched over Margot in front of a plain white backdrop in ok dresses.

    I don’t know maybe it’s because of someone I follow on Instagram through herself an amazing Barbie themed small birthday party last year and went all out so now in comparison to the movie, promotion seems to fall short.

  10. Ameerah M says:

    I honestly didn’t think I could muster much excitement about this film until I saw the first two trailers. After seeing them I was sold. I love that they are approaching it with such irreverence and self-awareness. It’s the only way this could work.

  11. Lisa says:

    I went from I dont care about this movie to I have to see this movie after I saw a video of Margot showing close ups of the set design.

  12. msd says:

    Good lord, what do these Mattel suits think feminism is exactly? They’re so desperate here to say it isn’t feminist. Do they think red pill dude bros are going to launch a boycott against “woke” Barbie? That’s not the film’s audience. Meanwhile the film’s actual audience (read: me) is annoyed by their comments and now re-thinking her desire to see this in cinema even though she likes both Robbie and Gerwig and was charmed by the trailer.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      If you go to the cinema you are supporting Robbie/Gerwig, that’s how you show the Mattel brass that they are the ones you are supporting, not them.

    • Delphine says:

      It’s like they don’t even know their own brand. In some ways Barbie can be considered a feminist icon. The early career versions of Barbie were very forward thinking. The idea that Barbie can do or be anything is baked into the brand and that is a very feminist concept. Also the way Ken is just there as a supporting character. She doesn’t need a man for self-realization. They’re afraid of the unwoke mob’s anti-feminism. Barbie would be appalled.

  13. Shawna says:

    That Architectural Digest Barbie “At Home” video was hilarious. Definitely going to see it eventually, but not sure if I’ll go to the theater.

    • Snuffles says:

      I just watched a video where the cast got to dress up their Barbies and I was flabbergasted at all of the options! Like, I saw some seriously high fashion items plus accessories!! I retroactively became jealous all over again.

    • Paisley25 says:

      The AD video is why I want to see this movie and on a big screen. I had no real interest in it before, but I love good set design.

  14. Bee says:

    I said this on the links post but I don’t think anyone saw it…

    So apparently Barbie is letting Ken live in her Malibu Dream House and he’s already got it up on Air BnB! Sketchy, Ken, sketchy. (I can hardly wait for the photos the winners will be sharing.)

    The promo for this movie has been great and I’m looking forward to seeing it! I will have to determine how I feel about going to the theater. Maybe a matinee.

  15. AMD says:

    I am one of those who is excited about this. I wasn’t initially, but after the trailer, I’m interested.

    The marketing and partnerships have been on point, and I can’t wait to see this with the ladies in my family.