Barbie Has Been Waiting Decades for Her Meryl Streep Moment

Have you overdosed on all the media coverage for the July 21 release of “Barbie” from WB? Although you should give her some leeway, it’s understandable: For many years, Barbie and Mattel have been anticipating this day.

Several years ago, Universal Home Video Executive Glenn Ross revealed to Variety that U and Mattel had been considering films as early as 2001: Barbie should be a movie star, we knew. It must evoke the same emotions as watching a Meryl Streep film.

In 2007, he discussed the animated films. Six years after their 2001 release, the direct-to-DVD films had produced nine titles, each of which had sold more than a million copies.

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Barbie has been a money maker for Mattel.

Rob Hudnut, a Mattel executive producer, added at the time, “We are great believers in the power of little girls.” Well, they ought to. Since her debut in 1959, Barbie has been a money maker for Mattel.

However, Greta Gerwig’s live-action movie, which also stars Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling and was written by her and Noah Baumbach, isn’t just targeting young girls.

Barbie: Billion-Dollar Brand, a collection of stories published by Variety in 2007, was the title of the package.

Author Susanne Ault brought up the live-action movie Bratz, a line of fashion dolls that served as competitors or imitators. The article stated that although Universal and Mattel were “intent on protecting the Barbie brand” and “are picky about the doll’s projects,” they were “not in a rush for their own live-action movie.”

Barry Waldo, the senior director of distribution and marketing at Mattel, claimed that during his nine years with the company, “we’ve received more calls from producers looking to make a Barbie feature than I can count. We’ll give it some thought if we decide it’s the right time.

Album of Barbie songs

As early as October 19, 1960, when composer Eliot Daniel was putting together an album of Barbie songs, Variety had made mention of the doll.

Over the years, there were sporadic mentions, including two stories in 1996: Mattel had developed a line of Barbies specifically for adults, dressing her as Maria from ‘Sound of Music’ and other movie characters. There was a rumour that Pixar and Mattel couldn’t agree on a plan to have Barbie save Woody in the first “Toy Story.” (Barbie sat out that film, but she and Ken appear in “Toy Story 3.”)

2007’s Variety package described the doll’s development into a mini-conglomerate.

“Like girl anthropologists, Mattel surveys and monitors how they spend their days,” the article stated. The company then makes use of that data to determine the best ways to introduce Barbie into the lives of girls, whether through the doll itself, a website, or a movie.

In addition to the animated made-fors, there was an animated TV show and collaborations with brands like Armani, Citizens for Humanity, and MAC cosmetics (aimed at adult women).

The information contained tidbits like the fact that girls in the United States between the ages of three and ten owned an average of 12 Barbies and that Barbie had 1,000 licensees worldwide (only 85 of them in the United States). Additionally, Vivienne Westwood may be the only fashion designer to have dressed both Sid Vicious and Barbie.

“But Mattel has plenty of fresh Barbie concepts up their sleeves,” the reporter continued. Absolutely, they did.


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