While the iconic Barbie doll has certainly received her share of direct-to-video animated kids’ films over the years, fans have never had the chance to see a live action Barbie film in theaters. All that is about to change, since Deadline reports that Sony Pictures has teamed with Mattel to create a comedy based on the doll, and it seems like this project is moving quickly.
Mattel has been stingy about selling the rights to the character, but when they recently opened their doors to a limited number of pitches for ideas for a live action film, writer Jenny Bicks and producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald were able to convince the toy company that they’re the right people for the job. Their idea is to utilize Barbie’s extensive history with various accessories and jobs to turn her into a young, modern day Mary Poppins figure, as she “use[s] her personal and professional skills to step into the lives of others and improve them.” Bicks, whose credits include “The Big C,” “Dawson’s Creek,” “Sex in the City,” and What A Girl Wants, will write the screenplay.
Deadline says that the approach will allow the studio to find young actors to play the leads (they can’t forget about Ken), and since this is naturally being planned as the start of a franchise, the kids will be signed on for multiple films while the filmmakers can surround the cast with different stars in each subsequent movie. Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal has taken this project under her wing and oversaw the deal herself, and Sony Pictures production president Hannah Minghella had this to say about the upcoming film:
We’ve always thought that the Barbie story had great potential, but a universe of possibilities opened up when Jenny, Walter and Laurie brought us their unexpected, clever, and truly funny concept. It captures everything that has made Barbie a classic for generation after generation while also standing on its own, establishing Barbie as a truly original screen character.
It remains to be seen just how original this character will be on the big screen, since a lot of these details sound an awful lot like posturing to justify spending a lot of money on another recognizable product. The timeline on this one is said to be accelerated, with production starting before the end of the year. While some people will undoubtedly say “It’s about time” when they hear this news, I’m wondering if this ship hasn’t already sailed. I don’t have kids, so parents out there, please let me know – do kids play with Barbie dolls as much as they used to? Is a live action Barbie comedy something your kids would be interested in? Sound off in the comments below.
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