Greta Gerwig signs on as the director for upcoming live-action Barbie movie. The film stars Margot Robbie, with shooting set to start in 2022.
Greta Gerwig has signed on to direct the upcoming live-action Barbie movie. It was confirmed in 2019 that Gerwig would co-write the Barbie script with her partner, Noah Baumbach, whom she frequently works with. While there was speculation about Gerwig directing the feature when she initially came on board, nothing was finalized at the time. Over the last five years, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker has carved a name for herself as a one of Hollywood’s most talented writers and directors, with critically acclaimed works including Lady Bird and Little Women. Gerwig’s notoriety as a wearer of many hats goes back further than her mainstream success, however. Indie-film fans have been rooting for Gerwig as far back as the early 2000s, with her earlier works including Frances Ha and Mistress America, among several other under-the-radar favorites.
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Plans for the Barbie movie started in 2009, with rumors circulating that Amy Schumer would be the lead. Around the same time, it was also believed that Mindy Kaling and Anne Hathaway were potential candidates. In 2019, Warner Bros and Mattel confirmed Margot Robbie for Barbie‘s title role. Robbie was confirmed as a producer of the film as well, working with her production company LuckyChap Entertainment. Barbie is one of thirteen other toy brands under the Mattel name with a live-action treatment plan. Some others on the list include American Girl, Barney, and Hot Wheels.
Now, in addition to co-writing, Variety reported that Gerwig will direct Barbie as well. Production for the film hasn’t started yet, as Baumbach and Gerwig are still finishing up their current feature White Noise, which Gerwig will star in alongside Adam Driver. Baumbach’s latest directorial success was Netflix’s Marriage Story, which also starred Driver. Starting in early 2022, filming for the Barbie movie will take place in London at Warner Bros.’ Leavesden Studios. The theatrical release is projected for 2023.
While details regarding the movie’s plot are still under wraps, Robbie previously expressed to Variety her enthusiasm about the film’s positive approach to connecting with younger kids and its ability to serve as an aspiration. That being said, Robbie admitted that playing Barbie comes with a lot of baggage. She explained that while it’s important to recognize the nostalgic properties, it’s also an opportunity to find creative ways to attack them. Presumably, this attack may have something to do with Gen X and millennials’ growing awareness of building positive self-esteem for younger girls and the attempt to demolish unrealistic self-image expectations. Robbie made her faith in Gerwig’s approach clear, saying once people hear Gerwig is the writer and director, their expectations for the film will immediately shift.
Taking on such an iconic staple comes with inherently high stakes. Gerwig’s adaptation of Little Women was no small undertaking, and neither is Barbie. More and more recently, audience’s exposure to mainstream content is met with less conventional approaches, arguably broadening viewers’ horizons when it comes to what qualifies as good entertainment. Gerwig’s roots stem back to the subgenre of independent film known as mumblecore, characterized by favoring dialogue over plot and putting emphasis on relationships. While this style is more often seen in low-budget films, Gerwig and other filmmakers from the indie world still let it show in their high-budget successes. Adult audiences, who are equipped with critical thinking skills, have come to appreciate less watered-down material and more existentially-driven themes. As for kid viewers, Gerwig’s take on Barbie may have the potential to achieve the same success by reaching younger audiences beneath the surface.
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