For greater than six a long time, and with lore that spans greater than 200 careers, Mattel‘s Barbie has been a logo of empowerment that women “could be something.” Now, on the eve of her sixty fifth birthday, Barbie is formally a film star. However there’s a lot extra to it.
Starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as variations of Barbie and Ken, Barbie: The Film is a record-breaking success on a number of fronts, taking in $155 million within the U.S. and $182 million in worldwide markets for a $337 million opening weekend whole. Proper out of the gate, the Greta Gerwig-helmed Barbie is the largest opening ever for a movie from a feminine director, and its launch alongside Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer leveraged the “Barbenheimer” hype to gasoline the fourth greatest field workplace weekend of all time.
The huge, overwhelming response we’ve seen on the market proves what we’ve recognized from the start: that ‘Barbie’ shouldn’t be solely an extremely particular movie, however clearly the theatrical occasion of the summer season, if not the yr. Greta, Margot, Ryan and all the ‘Barbie’ crew have delivered precisely the type of enjoyable, transporting theatrical expertise that audiences in all places have been craving, as they proceed to exhibit in numbers we haven’t seen since earlier than the pandemic. We couldn’t be extra thrilled to be a part of it, and congratulate everybody concerned on this good labor of affection.”
There can be sizzling takes and analyses of this for years, however Barbie opened amid an period of putting change in Hollywood that may have large ramifications for years to come back not simply within the entertainment trade however the toy trade and adjoining realms as nicely.
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Display screen Actors Guild — American Federation of Tv and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) are on strike as they search honest compensation from the Alliance of Movement Image and Tv Producers (AMPTP) and its studio and streaming members. Whereas the strike appears to have had little if any, measurable influence on the moviegoing public, the expertise concerned within the making of Barbie has been unable to participate within the celebration of their very own success.
There’s a tradition conflict at play that has, partially, been mirrored by sure occasions depicted in Barbie and can arguably filter again into the true world because the success of the movie turns into part of the dispute. As top-level, “above the road” trade gamers and executives money in and trade pats on the again, lots of the creatives and “beneath the road” events that introduced the movie to the massive display will quickly be struggling to pay lease, mortgages, or put meals on the desk for his or her households.
Forward of the Friday evening screening I attended with my household, a business ran for Mattel’s glorious work with its Barbie Dream Hole Undertaking, however I couldn’t assist however consider the battle being waged over the pay hole. And this isn’t one thing new or distinctive to Hollywood. It’s been the lifestyle for company America, together with inside the toy trade (a narrative for one more time).
Barbie: The Film — My Take
Fairly merely, I don’t suppose that there was another approach to do that film and do it proper.
Wanting again on the false begins that Barbie had on her strategy to the massive display, I don’t imagine that any of the previously-in-development variations would’ve labored, and that’s why the time and care put into this movie is so essential.
Barbie as a toy, a client product, and a life-style model is a multi-faceted affair that would fill volumes, but in some way, it’s all addressed in simply 1 hour and 54 minutes of cinematic leisure.
There may be maybe no different toy model with as a lot social and cultural baggage hooked up to it as Barbie. Folks love Barbie. Folks hate Barbie. And, there are numerous interpretations of what Barbie, Ken, and their world might or ought to signify. That additionally implies that there are some fairly ugly blemishes on the historical past of the model that would loom like an Elephant within the room, however Mattel did the correct factor right here by letting Gerwig and her husband and writing accomplice, Noah Baumbach tackle them head-on.
Watching the movie alongside my spouse and our two daughters, I witnessed loads of laughs alongside an honest quantity of tears being shed.
Stereotyping, gender, and vanity points are tackled alongside the occasional pushback in opposition to consumerism and the sometimes-sad actuality that youngsters develop up and ship their toys off to Goodwill. And, as adults, there are huge feelings that may tie again to the occasions we performed as children (no spoilers, however see America Ferrera’s Gloria on that). Gosling’s Ken (his job is “Seashore”) discovers “patriarchy” whereas Robbie’s Barbie struggles on a journey of self-discovery to seek out out simply what precisely it’s that “Barbie” is meant to signify.
An enormous spotlight of the movie is Rhea Perlman’s award-worthy efficiency as Mattel co-founder and Barbie creator Ruth Handler. Even right here, the filmmakers didn’t draw back from the blemish on Handler’s real-life story, with a twin point out of her “troubles with the I.R.S.” Even some famous misses in Barbie historical past (Ken’s buddy Allan, pregnant Midge, Video Woman Barbie) made their approach into the movie.
Will Ferrell, no stranger to enjoying toy trade CEO-types (see: The LEGO Film) steps in for Ynon Kreiz because the fictional President and CEO of the film model of Mattel (opting to make use of Financial institution of America Plaza in Los Angeles as a stand-in for the corporate’s El Segundo HQ). Right here, Ferrell leads a gaggle of comical “sure males” on a journey to Barbieland in an effort to place “Stereotypical Barbie” (Robbie) “again in her field” amid a cross-pollination of the true world and the Barbie world wherein people and toys can work together.
I liked the movie, however extra importantly, my household liked the movie.
However, as with every multi-layered story, the person response to the movie and its themes could range extensively.
Impression on the Toy Division
On July 26, Mattel will report its second quarter earnings. Whereas I anticipate combined outcomes amid a not-so-great first six months of the yr for all the toy trade, my Magic 8 Ball says “Outlook Good” that we’ll hear that gross billings have been up for Barbie product shipped throughout Q2. Ought to the momentum of the model proceed, the gross sales spike ought to be felt inside Q3, and hopefully, this turns into an instance of the “rising tide” analogy that getting households again into the toy division might spike gross sales for different merchandise, or “float all boats.” Ideally, when Barbie hits VOD and streaming, we should always see one other instance of the old-school “dwelling video gross sales bump” as households at dwelling watch the movie and children (regardless that it is a PG-13 film) begin asking for brand new Barbie dolls.
Mattel executives, notably Kriez and President and COO Richard Dickson have been very open on the truth that their cinematic aspirations are “about greater than promoting toys,” it’s about making good movies and constructing manufacturers.
Nonetheless, Barbie is a toy, and the success of at the moment doesn’t assure the success of tomorrow.
As we’ve seen lately, the evolution of Barbie has been an amazing factor and the model now encompasses its most various array of merchandise ever. Personally, I can’t wait to see what Mattel has deliberate for Barbie’s sixty fifth birthday subsequent yr.
What the toy trade wants proper now could be pleasure, and Barbie is a step in the correct course.
Kens Speaking Barbie:
The male perspective on Barbie might show to be a punchline for some, however some acquainted voices within the toy trade (this one included) thought it could be enjoyable to see the movie and share hyperlinks to every others’ ideas. Hit the hyperlinks beneath for commentary from three associates as a part of a sprawling, toy commerce multiverse of Barbie takes, direct from the Mojo Dojo Casa Home. In another world, we may very well be a ten, however right here we’re all simply Ken.
A Message from Eternia
It was nearly buried within the Barbie hype, however final week it was revealed that the long-in-development He-Man and the Masters of the Universe film has been canceled at Netflix. Sources say that greater than $30 million was spent on growing the live-action movie previous to a battle relating to the general funds.
Might Barbie be the anchor of a Mattel Cinematic Universe the place Will Ferrell’s anonymous “Mattel CEO” leads an organization that has varied worlds (like Barbieland) that may be accessed by toys and people alike? With a number of toy manufacturers arrange at a wide range of completely different studios, that would get sophisticated, however I’m actually fascinated by no matter potentialities could exist inside the toy field.