Barbie (film series)
|Produced by||Mattel Creations|
|Distributed by||Artisan Entertainment (2001-2003) |
Universal Studios (2006–2017)
Warner Bros. (upcoming live action)
|Country||United States |
Barbie, a fashion doll manufactured by the American toy company Mattel, Inc., has been a computer animated virtual actress starring in direct-to-video animated films. Although Barbie has appeared in miniseries and short films since 1987, the series officially began in 2001 with Barbie in the Nutcracker. It was followed by a total of thirty-five films before it was put on hiatus in 2017. Barbie has appeared as a character in other films, including Mattel's My Scene line as well as the Toy Story film series, but these are not considered part of the franchise. Created by Mattel Creations (formerly Mattel Entertainment), the first ten films sold 40 million DVD and VHS units worldwide by 2007, grossing over $700 million in sales. As of 2013, the series has sold over 110 million DVD units worldwide.
The Barbie films and their plot lines center on Barbie as a singular CGI actress, and often frame Barbie as a modern girl telling the story to a younger friend while simultaneously starring in the film. Scholars examining how the Barbie films differ from Disney and other princess narratives have concluded that Mattel intentionally attempted to remediate its brand based on feminist criticisms through story-telling in the films. Barbie is always placed as the central heroine of the story, with male characters and romantic interests serving as secondary to the plot.
Barbie's popularity on the toy market began to decline in the 1990s, and struggled further when MGA Entertainment introduced a line of Bratz dolls, whose sexualized characters contrasted with Barbie's older, chaste image. Mattel therefore attempted to overhaul the Barbie brand to keep the toy relevant to consumers in the modern age by bringing in consultants and conducting research on key market groups. Mattel consultants initially considered reducing the Barbie's breast size, but later claimed that the doll's figure could not be changed because "being consistent is one of her biggest strengths". This move might also have been rejected because of the success of the sexualized Bratz dolls of Mattel's competitors. Mattel's team also considered targeting market audiences of career women and their daughters by introducing lines of Doctor or Lawyer Barbies. However, Mattel's research showed that girls were spending more time online than playing with physical dolls. Therefore, targeted career Barbies were discarded in favor of looking for more interactive platforms through online or digital media.
This resulted in the creation of the Barbie film series, which initially revolved around Barbie being reimagined as a princess and eventually expanded into various worlds of fashion and fantasy. A primary benefit of this strategy revolved around marketing, as Mattel could sell dolls specific to each film separately from the DVDs and merchandise related to props, costumes, and sets from the films. Tim Kilpin, the senior vice-president for girls marketing at Mattel, stated that "What you see now are several different Barbie worlds anchored by content and storytelling. A girl can understand what role Barbie is playing, what the other characters are doing, and how they interrelate. That's a much richer level of story that leads to a richer level of play." The strategy worked as US Barbie sales, led by the princess line, "increased by two percent in 2006, saving Mattel's bottom line at a time when its worldwide share of the toy market was declining." Within the films, Mattel includes performances by well-known companies and orchestras, such as the London Symphony Orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic and the New York City Ballet. These associations could have been included as an enrichment strategy on behalf of Mattel's marketing team, to help the films be seen as educational.
The company produced its first feature-length film, Barbie in the Nutcracker, in 2001 based on E. T. A. Hoffmann's classic tale and featured music from Tchaikovsky's ballet. After its success, it was followed by Barbie as Rapunzel based on the Brothers Grimm's fairy tale in 2002 and another Tchaikovsky ballet-inspired Barbie of Swan Lake in 2003. The first musical film was released in 2004 with Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper based on Mark Twain's famous novel. Due to its popularity among the fans, a remake was released in 2012 with Barbie: The Princess & the Popstar.
In 2005, the first of the Barbie: Fairytopia trilogy was released which was followed by Barbie: Mermaidia in 2006 and Barbie Fairytopia: Magic of the Rainbow in 2007. Two films were released as spin-offs to Fairytopia, Barbie: Mariposa in 2008 and its sequel Barbie: Mariposa & the Fairy Princess in 2013.
The success of the first three films had led to the princess-themed lineup in the series, releasing its first original story Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus in 2005, another Grimm's fairy tale Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses in 2006, and the musicals Barbie as the Island Princess in 2007 and Barbie & the Diamond Castle in 2008. Two more films based on classic novels by Charles Dickens and Alexandre Dumas were released with Barbie in A Christmas Carol in 2008 and Barbie and the Three Musketeers in 2009, respectively.
Starting with the modern adaptation of an Andersen fairy tale, Barbie: Thumbelina in 2009, the series moved away from the classical princess stories and focused on more modern themes like fashion and on stories revolving around Barbie's family and careers. In 2017, the franchise was put on hiatus after Barbie: Dolphin Magic, but in 2020, Mattel announced a return to the film series, beginning with the new musical Barbie: Princess Adventure.
The following is the official list of the animated films in the Barbie film series.
|#||Title||Release date||Director(s)||Screenwriter(s)||Video sales||Sales revenue|
|1||Barbie in the Nutcracker||October 23, 2001||Owen Hurley||Rob Hudnut, Linda Engelsiepen & Hilary Hinkle||110,000,000||$1,925,000,000 (est.)|
|2||Barbie as Rapunzel||October 1, 2002||Elana Lesser & Cliff Ruby|
|3||Barbie of Swan Lake||September 30, 2003|
|4||Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper||September 28, 2004||William Lau|
|5||Barbie: Fairytopia||March 8, 2005||Walter P. Martishius||Elise Allen & Diane Duane|
|6||Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus||September 20, 2005||Greg Richardson||Elana Lesser & Cliff Ruby|
|7||Barbie Fairytopia: Mermaidia||March 14, 2006||William Lau & Walter P. Martishius||Elise Allen & Diane Duane|
|8||The Barbie Diaries||May 9, 2006||Eric Fogel||Elise Allen & Laura McCreary|
|9||Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses||September 19, 2006||Greg Richardson||Elana Lesser & Cliff Ruby|
|10||Barbie Fairytopia: Magic of the Rainbow||March 13, 2007||William Lau||Elise Allen|
|11||Barbie as the Island Princess||September 18, 2007||Greg Richardson||Elana Lesser & Cliff Ruby|
|12||Barbie: Mariposa||February 26, 2008||Conrad Helten||Elise Allen|
|13||Barbie & the Diamond Castle||September 9, 2008||Gino Nichelle||Elana Lesser & Cliff Ruby|
|14||Barbie in A Christmas Carol||November 4, 2008||William Lau||Elise Allen|
|15||Barbie Presents: Thumbelina||March 17, 2009||Conrad Helten|
|16||Barbie and the Three Musketeers||September 15, 2009||William Lau||Amy Wolferam|
|17||Barbie in A Mermaid Tale||March 2, 2010||Adam L. Wood||Elise Allen|
|18||Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale||September 14, 2010||William Lau|
|19||Barbie: A Fairy Secret||March 15, 2011|
|20||Barbie: Princess Charm School||September 13, 2011||Ezekiel Norton|
|21||Barbie: A Perfect Christmas||November 8, 2011||Mark Baldo|
|22||Barbie in A Mermaid Tale 2||February 27, 2012||William Lau|
|23||Barbie: The Princess & the Popstar||September 11, 2012||Ezekiel Norton||Steve Granat & Cydne Clark|
|24||Barbie in the Pink Shoes||February 26, 2013||Owen Hurley||Alison Taylor||581,187||$10,843,872|
|25||Barbie: Mariposa & the Fairy Princess||August 27, 2013||William Lau||Elise Allen||271,194||$5,878,488|
|26||Barbie & Her Sisters in A Pony Tale||October 22, 2013||Kyran Kelly||Cydne Clark & Steve Granat||458,026||$9,454,173|
|27||Barbie: The Pearl Princess||February 15, 2014||Ezekiel Norton||368,500||$7,580,205|
|28||Barbie and the Secret Door||August 7, 2014||Karen J. Lloyd||Brian Holefeld||329,836||$8,488,067|
|29||Barbie in Princess Power||February 26, 2015||Ezekiel Norton||Marsha Griffin||212,385||$4,655,070|
|30||Barbie in Rock'n Royals||August 13, 2015||Karen J. Lloyd & Michael Goguen||131,836||$5,006,613|
|31||Barbie & Her Sisters in The Great Puppy Adventure||October 8, 2015||Andrew Tan||Amy Wolfram||69,950||$4,171,779|
|32||Barbie: Spy Squad||January 15, 2016||Conrad Helten||Marsha Griffin & Kacey Arnold||190,146||$2,961,549|
|33||Barbie: Star Light Adventure||August 29, 2016||Andrew Tan||Kacey Arnold||21,154||$2,088,235|
|34||Barbie & Her Sisters in A Puppy Chase||October 18, 2016||Conrad Helten||Amy Wolfram & Kacey Arnold||22,492||$2,095,317|
|35||Barbie: Video Game Hero||January 31, 2017||Conrad Helten & Zeke Norton||Nina Bargiel||TBA||TBA|
|36||Barbie: Dolphin Magic||September 17, 2017||Conrad Helten||Jennifer Skelly||TBA||TBA|
|37||Barbie: Princess Adventure||September 1, 2020||Conrad Helten||Ann Austen||TBA||TBA|
Barbie was voiced by Kelly Sheridan in most of the series for twenty-seven films altogether. Sheridan was initially succeeded by Diana Kaarina as the voice of Barbie in 2010, beginning with Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale, but later returned to the role in 2012 with Barbie in A Mermaid Tale 2. She continued to voice Barbie through 2015, when it was announced that Erica Lindbeck would be taking over in 2016.
|#||Title||Barbie's role(s)||Voice actor(s)||Notes|
|1||Barbie in the Nutcracker||Clara / Sugar Plum Princess||Kelly Sheridan|
|2||Barbie as Rapunzel||Rapunzel|
|3||Barbie of Swan Lake||Odette|
|4||Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper||Princess Anneliese / Erika||
|6||Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus||Princess Annika|
|7||Barbie Fairytopia: Mermaidia||Elina|
|8||The Barbie Diaries||Barbie||Skye Sweetnam (singing voice for Barbie)|
|9||Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses||Princess Genevieve||Melissa Lyons (singing voice for Genevieve)|
|10||Barbie Fairytopia: Magic of the Rainbow||Elina|
|11||Barbie as the Island Princess||Ro / Princess Rosella||Melissa Lyons (singing voice for Rosella)|
|12||Barbie: Mariposa||Elina / Mariposa||
|13||Barbie & the Diamond Castle||Liana||Kelly Sheridan||Melissa Lyons (singing voice for Liana and Eden)|
|14||Barbie in A Christmas Carol||Eden Starling||
|15||Barbie Presents: Thumbelina||Barbie||Kelly Sheridan|
|16||Barbie and the Three Musketeers||Corinne|
|17||Barbie in A Mermaid Tale||Merliah Summers||Melissa Lyons (singing voice for Merliah)|
|18||Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale||Barbie||Diana Kaarina|
|19||Barbie: A Fairy Secret||Barbie|
|20||Barbie: Princess Charm School||Blair Willows / Princess Sophia|
|21||Barbie: A Perfect Christmas||Barbie||Jennifer Waris (singing voice for Barbie)|
|22||Barbie in A Mermaid Tale 2||Merliah Summers||Kelly Sheridan|
|23||Barbie: The Princess & the Popstar||Princess Tori / Keira|
|24||Barbie in the Pink Shoes||Kristyn Farraday / Giselle / Odette|
|25||Barbie: Mariposa & the Fairy Princess||Mariposa|
|26||Barbie & Her Sisters in A Pony Tale||Barbie|
|27||Barbie: The Pearl Princess||Princess Lumina|
|28||Barbie and the Secret Door||Princess Alexa||Brittany McDonald (singing voice for Alexa)|
|29||Barbie in Princess Power||Princess Kara / Super Sparkle|
|30||Barbie in Rock'n Royals||Princess Courtney||Jordyn Kane (singing voice for Courtney)|
|31||Barbie & Her Sisters in The Great Puppy Adventure||Barbie|
|32||Barbie: Spy Squad||Barbie||Erica Lindbeck|
|33||Barbie: Star Light Adventure||Barbie / Princess Starlight|
|34||Barbie & Her Sisters in A Puppy Chase||Barbie|
|35||Barbie: Video Game Hero||Barbie|
|36||Barbie: Dolphin Magic||Barbie|
|37||Barbie: Princess Adventure||Barbie / Princess Amelia||
Live-action film adaptation
In 1986, a St. Petersburg Times newspaper reported that Cannon Films planned to make a Barbie film, but nothing came to fruition.
Sony Pictures and Mattel attempted to develop a comedic live-action Barbie movie with Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald as producers and Jenny Bicks as a writer. On March 4, 2015 it was announced that Diablo Cody will be doing rewrites on the script. In December 2015 it was announced that Sony would hire three different writers to write scripts and that they would choose the best one. They are working with the draft written by Hilary Winston.
On August 5, 2015, Sony Pictures set the release date as June 2, 2017. On December 2, 2016, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Amy Schumer had been cast as Barbie. It also reported that minor changes would be made in terms of the character and the story itself, centering on a Barbie, who after she is exiled from a world full of Barbies, enters the real world as a normal woman who is imperfect. On March 23, 2017, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that Schumer had dropped out of the project due to scheduling conflicts; similar reports stated that the film was without a director. In August 2017, it was announced that Anne Hathaway would star as the titular character and that up-and-coming director Alethea Jones would helm it.
Originally scheduled for release on May 12, 2017, it was reported that the live-action film adaptation was pushed back and set for a June 29, 2018 release in the United States; it was later pushed back to August 8, 2018. On April 26, 2018, Diablo Cody announced why she had dropped out as the original chosen writer on the project. Cody said that she spent too much time involved working on the screenplay for Tully to focus on writing the live action Barbie movie and that she doesn't feel she is the right person to write the script. This film's concept was discarded in 2017. Sony in January 2018 would later move its release date to May 8, 2020.
With a revived film division, Mattel Films, a Barbie film was considered one of two of the division's first projects. In October 2018, it was announced that Warner Bros. would distribute and that Margot Robbie was in talks to play the titular character, following Hathaway's departure from the role. In early January 2019, Mattel closed the deal with Robbie to star and Warner and Robbie's production company, LuckyChap Entertainment, to co-produce. In July 2019, it was announced that Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach would write the script with Gerwig also in talks to direct.
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- Vered, Karen Orrl & Maizonniaux, Christèlel, "Barbie and the straight-to-DVD movie: pink post-feminist pedagogy", Feminist Media Studies. Apr2017, Vol. 17 Issue 2, p198-214. 17p.
- Still, Julie, "Feminist Barbie: Mattel's Remakes of Classic Tales", MP: A Feminist Journal Online. Oct2010, Vol. 3 Issue 2, p148-164. 17p.
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- Vered, Karen Orr; Maizonniaux, Christèle (2020-03-14). "Barbie and the straight-to-DVD movie: pink post-feminist pedagogy". Feminist Media Studies. 17 (2): 198–214. doi:10.1080/14680777.2016.1178158. S2CID 147748759.
- "All 37 Best Barbie Movies List In Order with Infographic (2020)". Featured Animation. Retrieved 2020-07-26.
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- "Barbie Mariposa and the Fairy Princess (2013) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- "Barbie & Her Sisters in a Pony Tale (2013) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- "Barbie: The Pearl Princess (2014) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- "Barbie and the Secret Door (2014) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- "Barbie in Princess Power (2015) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- "Barbie in Rock'n Royals (2015) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- "Barbie & Her Sisters in The Great Puppy Adventure (2015) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- "Barbie: Spy Squad (2016) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- "Barbie: Star Light Adventure (2016) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- "Barbie & Her Sisters in a Puppy Chase (2016) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
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Columbia Pictures also confirmed that Anne Hathaway will star in Barbie (news she was in talks for the role broke last month) and said it has moved the film back a few weeks to Aug. 8, 2018 (it was previously set for June 29, 2018). Alethea Jones directs the film.
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- "Sony Dates 'Silver And Black', 'Sicario 2'; Moves 'Holmes And Watson', 'Bad Boys 3' Unset & More". Deadline Hollywood. August 11, 2017.
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