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The idea of a live action Barbie film was announced in 2016. I guess Mattel wanted to create their own version of Life Size and if you hear about a movie based on a doll, you automatically think of Chucky or Talking Tina from The Twilight Zone.
It has finally been announced that Margot Robbie will play Barbie! This didn't come as a shock for me because her name was thrown around many times and given the fact Robbie—who is 28 years old—has a clean image in the industry and her own production company (which she's producing the film with as well), she was definitely a clear choice to play the doll with many occupations and two hundred beach houses.
This is surely a breath of fresh air since Amy Schumer was set to play Barbie in 2017 but dropped out citing "a scheduling conflict," but considering the backlash of people who didn't think she was appropriate for the role, I assume 'a scheduling conflict is the new excuse. Anne Hathaway (from The Princess Diaries, The Dark Knight Rises, Brokeback Mountain and many more) also turned down the role.
The live action Barbie film is set for a 2020 release, which will pin this movie right alongside Robbie's other project Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of Harley Quinn) which she is set to wrap in April of this year.
This will be the first film under Mattel's new film deal and it's also the first collaboration with Warner Bros. which is why Robbie's casting makes sense, since she is under contract with Warner Bros. for Harley Quinn.
With the news of this casting, I think it's appropriate to go into the history of Barbie.
The Creation of Barbie
Barbie was created by Ruth Handler on March 9, 1959. She came up with the idea after seeing her daughter Barbara (who she named the doll after) playing with a set of paper dolls. Handler knew a fashion doll would be popular amongst young girls, unfortunately her husband, Elliot—and co founder of Mattel- didn't think so, and his colleagues at Mattel agreed with him.
It wasn't until the Handler's along with their children, Barbara and Kenneth (who the Ken doll is named after) went to Europe in 1956, that Ruth purchased a German fashion doll named Bild Lilli. Bild had a backstory which saw the doll as a career woman who got everything she wanted (sounds familiar doesn't it).
Well, the backstory wasn't the only thing that Barbie had in common with Bildi. Take a look:
On the left is the first Barbie and on the right is Bild Lilli. Eerie right? Well Louis Marx and Co. who produced Bild sued Mattel in 1961, the story took a crazy turn when Mattel purchased the license from Louis Marx and Co. in 1964 and stopped production of Bild causing her to disappear into the abyss, as if they were Thanos and Bild was Spider-Man.
Throughout the six decades, Barbie has gone through many changes in her appearance. The Bild inspired look was gone and Mattel went into various directions to keep up with the ever changing fashion trends.
Thankfully Mattel decided to ditch the 1980 Barbie, she looked downright scary!
Mattel created a whole family line and background story for Barbie which consisted on giving her friends and family. Her first best friend was Midge, who received her own dolls but they unsuccessfully did the pregnant Midge doll which didn't go over well with various parents.
In 2015, Mattel finally listened to parents and women who expressed their concern for Barbie and the self image she was expressing to young children.
Mattel decided to create a line of new dolls that showed every body type, skin color, fashion style and height of regular everyday girls.
But this was decided after the sales of Barbie began to stagger in 2014. Young girls were no longer interested in getting the last career Barbie. They didn't care if she was the first female president, if she was a witch, if she was a veterinarian or if she owned another beach house.
To the surprise of Mattel, another group of dolls they created were making a name for themselves and these dolls made creepy fabulous!
Monster High dolls mixed fashion with sci-fi horror and yet made these unique dolls beautiful in their own way. It wasn't at all surprising to see young girls and boys, want to put down their Barbies and pick up a Monster High doll.
It even caused a huge surge in sales when Lady Gaga collaborated with them to create a doll of herself, donating the contributions from the doll's purchase to her Born This Way Foundation.
While Barbie and Monster High dolls have countless animated direct to DVD films and web shows, seeing Mattel Films wanting their first outing into the film industry to be Barbie, is going to be a huge risk for them.
Not only are they giving Barbie a real face with Robbie portraying her, but they're also facing the challenge of making this film an original story that hasn't been done before.
Although we haven't gotten an official plot it's going to be an interesting development as they go into filming.
I wish Mattel and Robbie nothing but luck.
And 2020 is definitely going to be a year for Robbie since she'll be starring in both Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) and this unnamed Barbie film.
Either way, I'll keep you all updated on both films!