Barbie – Film

About Barbie – Film

Barbie Film

Barbie is a 2023 fantasy comedy film directed by Greta Gerwig from a screenplay she wrote with Noah Baumbach. Based on the eponymous fashion dolls by Mattel, it is the first live-action Barbie film after numerous computer-animated films and specials. The film stars Margot Robbie as the title character and Ryan Gosling as Ken, and follows the pair on a journey of self-discovery following an existential crisis. The supporting cast includes America Ferrera, Kate McKinnon, Issa Rae, Rhea Perlman, and Will Ferrell.

A live-action Barbie film was announced in September 2009 by Universal Pictures with Laurence Mark producing. Development began in April 2014, when Sony Pictures acquired the film rights. Following multiple writer and director changes and the casting of Amy Schumer and later Anne Hathaway as Barbie, the rights were transferred to Warner Bros. Pictures in October 2018. Robbie was cast in 2019, after Gal Gadot turned down the role due to scheduling conflicts, and Gerwig was announced as director and co-writer with Baumbach in 2020. The rest of the cast was announced in early 2022, with principal photography occurring primarily at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden, in England and at the Venice Beach Skatepark in Los Angeles from March to July of that year.

Barbie premiered at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on July 9, 2023, and was released in the United States on July 21. Its simultaneous release with Universal’s Oppenheimer led to the “Barbenheimer” cultural phenomenon, which encouraged audiences to see both films as a double feature. The film received widespread critical acclaim and has grossed $1.44 billion, becoming the highest-grossing film of 2023 as well as the highest-grossing film by a solo female director, the highest-grossing film ever released by Warner Bros., and the 14th highest-grossing film of all time. The film’s soundtrack received nominations for 11 Grammy Awards.




Stereotypical Barbie (“Barbie”) and fellow dolls reside in Barbieland, a matriarchal society populated by different versions of Barbies, Kens, and a group of discontinued models, who are treated like outcasts due to their unconventional traits. While the Kens spend their days playing at the beach, considering it their profession, the Barbies hold prestigious jobs such as doctor, lawyer, and politician. Beach Ken (“Ken”) is only happy when he is with Barbie, and seeks a closer relationship, but she rebuffs him in favour of other activities and female friendships.

One evening at a dance party, Barbie is suddenly stricken with worries about mortality. Overnight, she develops bad breath, cellulite, and flat feet, disrupting her usual routines the next day. She seeks out Weird Barbie, a disfigured doll, who tells her she must find the child playing with her in the real world to cure her afflictions. Ken stows away in her convertible to join her, to which Barbie reluctantly agrees.

Arriving at Venice Beach, Barbie punches a man for groping her, leading to her and Ken’s brief arrest. Alarmed by their presence, Mattel’s CEO orders their recapture. Barbie tracks down her owner, a teenage girl named Sasha, who criticizes her for encouraging unrealistic beauty standards. Distraught, Barbie discovers that Gloria, a Mattel employee and Sasha’s mother, inadvertently caused her existential crisis after Gloria began playing with Sasha’s old Barbie toys in a similar state. Mattel attempts to put Barbie in a toy box for remanufacturing, but she escapes with Gloria and Sasha’s help and the three travel to Barbieland with Mattel executives in pursuit.

Meanwhile, Ken learns about patriarchy and feels respected for the first time. Returning to Barbieland, he persuades the other Kens to take over, and the Barbies are indoctrinated into submissive roles, such as agreeable girlfriends, housewives, and maids. Barbie arrives and fails to convince everyone to return to the way things were. She becomes depressed, but Gloria gives her a speech about society’s conflicting expectations of women, restoring Barbie’s self-confidence.

With the assistance of Sasha, Weird Barbie, Allan, and the discontinued dolls, Gloria’s speech deprograms the Barbies from their indoctrination. They then manipulate the Kens into fighting amongst themselves, distracting them from enshrining male superiority into Barbieland’s constitution, and the Barbies regain power. Having now experienced systemic oppression for themselves, the Barbies resolve to rectify the faults of their previous society, emphasizing better treatment of the Kens and all outcasts.

Barbie and Ken apologize to each other, acknowledging their mistakes. Ken bemoans his lack of purpose without Barbie, so she encourages him to find an autonomous identity. Barbie, who remains unsure of her own identity, meets with the spirit of Ruth Handler, Mattel co-founder and creator of the Barbie doll, who explains that Barbie’s story has no set ending and her ever-evolving history surpasses her roots.

Barbie decides to become human and return to the real world, and is bidden goodbye by the Barbies, Kens, and Mattel executives. Sometime later, Gloria, her husband, and Sasha take Barbie, now going by the name “Barbara Handler”, to her first gynecologist appointment.


  • Margot Robbie as Barbie, often referred to as “Stereotypical Barbie”
  • Main variations of Barbie played by:
    • Issa Rae as President Barbie
    • Kate McKinnon as Weird Barbie
    • Alexandra Shipp as Writer Barbie
    • Emma Mackey as Physicist Barbie
    • Hari Nef as Dr. Barbie
    • Sharon Rooney as Lawyer Barbie
    • Ana Cruz Kayne as Judge Barbie
    • Ritu Arya as Journalist Barbie
    • Dua Lipa as Mermaid Barbie
    • Nicola Coughlan as Diplomat Barbie
  • Ryan Gosling as Ken, often referred to as “Beach Ken”
  • Main variations of Ken played by:
    • Simu Liu as Tourist Ken/”Rival Ken”
    • Kingsley Ben-Adir as Basketball Ken
    • Ncuti Gatwa as Artist Ken
    • Scott Evans as Stereotypical Ken
    • John Cena as Kenmaid, a merman Ken
  • America Ferrera as Gloria, a Mattel employee who helps Barbie in the real world
  • Ariana Greenblatt as Sasha, Gloria’s daughter
  • Rhea Perlman as Ruth Handler, the co-founder of Mattel
  • Helen Mirren as the narrator
  • Will Ferrell as the CEO of Mattel
  • Michael Cera as Allan
  • Connor Swindells as Aaron Dinkins, a low-level Mattel employee
  • Jamie Demetriou as the CFO of Mattel
  • Emerald Fennell as Midge
  • Asim Chaudhry as a Mattel warehouse employee
  • Ray Fearon as Dan at the FBI
  • Erica Ford as Skipper
  • Hannah Khalique-Brown as “Growing Up” Skipper
  • Mettenarrative as Barbie Video Girl
  • Marisa Abela as Teen Talk Barbie
  • Lucy Boynton as Proust Barbie
  • Rob Brydon as Sugar Daddy Ken
  • Tom Stourton as Earring Magic Ken
  • Ann Roth as the woman on the bench
  • Annie Mumolo as Anxiety Mom
  • Lauren Holt as Time Mom
  • Ryan Piers Williams as El Esposo de Gloria (Gloria’s husband)



The idea of a live-action Barbie film had been in development at Cannon Films in the mid-1980s; little is known about it, other than a promotional blurb (with the plotline centering around Barbie showing her owner how all her dreams could come true), and it is unclear how far into development it got before Mattel ceased working with Cannon, following Cannon’s live-action adaptation of Masters of the Universe (1987) flopping at the box-office.

Development on a film based on the Barbie toy line began in September 2009, when it was announced that Mattel had signed a partnership to develop the project with Universal Pictures and with Laurence Mark as producer, but nothing came to fruition. In April 2014, Mattel teamed with Sony Pictures to produce the film, which would have Jenny Bicks writing the screenplay and Laurie MacDonald and Walter F. Parkes producing through the Parkes+MacDonald Image Nation banner they created. Filming at the time was anticipated to begin by the end of the year. In March 2015, Diablo Cody was brought onto the project to rewrite the screenplay, and Amy Pascal joined the producing team. Sony would again have rewrites done to the screenplay later that year, hiring Lindsey Beer, Bert V. Royal, and Hillary Winston to write separate drafts.

In December 2016, Amy Schumer entered negotiations to star in the title role with Winston’s screenplay; Schumer helped rewrite the script with her sister, Kim Caramele. In March 2017, Schumer exited negotiations, blaming scheduling conflicts with the planned June 2017 filming start; in 2023 she revealed she left the project due to creative differences with the film’s producers at the time. That July, Anne Hathaway was under consideration for the title role, with Sony hiring Olivia Milch to rewrite the screenplay and approaching Alethea Jones to direct as a means to interest Hathaway into signing on. Jones was attached to direct by March 2018.

In August 2018, Robbie Brenner had been hired as producer by Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz with the rights reverting to Mattel, with Kreiz having the intention to repossess the rights following the expiration of Sony’s option. Later, Brenner was hired to run Mattel Films. The expiration of Sony’s option on the project in October 2018 and its transfer to Warner Bros. Pictures would see the departures of Hathaway, Jones, Macdonald, Parkes and Pascal. Margot Robbie would enter early talks for the role, with Patty Jenkins briefly considered for the director position. Kreiz was determined to cast Robbie in the titular role after meeting with her following his hiring as CEO as both he and Brenner felt that Robbie’s appearance resembled that of a conventional Barbie doll and were impressed by her ideas. Initial meetings occurred at the Polo Lounge located in The Beverly Hills Hotel. Brenner eventually partnered with Robbie’s production company, LuckyChap Entertainment, with Robbie’s husband Tom Ackerley and Josey McNamara also being enlisted as producers. Robbie’s casting was confirmed in July 2019.

In her capacity as a producer, Robbie pitched Barbie to Warner Bros. herself. During the green-light meeting, she compared the film to Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park (1993) and also jokingly suggested that it would gross over $1 billion. Later on, she approached Greta Gerwig—whose previous films, particularly Little Women (2019), Robbie enjoyed—to be the screenwriter. Gerwig was in post-production for another film, and took the assignment on the condition that her partner, Noah Baumbach, also write the script. Gerwig would sign on to also direct the film in July 2021. Robbie said the film aimed at subverting expectations and giving audiences “the thing you didn’t know you wanted”. In August 2023, Variety revealed that Robbie would earn “roughly $50 million in salary and box office bonuses” as the star and producer of the film.


July 21, 2023


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