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Barbie is no stranger to the movies, as she’s made tons of direct-to-video animated films, and was even featured prominently in Pixar’s Toy Story franchise. So it’s no surprise that she’s being set up for a live-action feature film debut. After all, if we can make a movie about Angry Birds or even Peeps, why not a movie about Barbie?
The surprise comes from the fact that the Barbie movie has just set up shop at Sony Pictures, and not with either of its previous partners: Universal Studios (which handles the Home Video release of the direct to video animated pictures) or Walt Disney Pictures.
This news broke recently, courtesy of a story in Deadline, and names Walter Parks and Laurie MacDonald as the producers of the project. Apparently this deal is a big enough matter that both studio head Amy Pascal and production president Hannah Minghella were both involved with the process. Perhaps this comes from the fact that Mattel, up until this point, has been reticent to dole out the rights to any of their toys.
The article goes on to detail that the film’s pitch specifies that it will be set in the present day and:
"…allows the character of Barbie to use her personal and professional skills to step into the lives of others and improve them, almost like a modern Mary Poppins."
So not only is Barbie going to be alive in our present day, but she’s going to be a magic nanny of sorts? Way to rub salt in the wound of both previous studios the character has worked with, as not only does Universal have Nanny McPhee, but Disney has… well, Mary Poppins. It’s not bad enough The LEGO Movie might have spurred this movie into production, but this movie just might get Universal to sign on to Nanny McThree, or (the biggest nightmare scenario) might inspire Disney to reboot Mary Poppins.
Having a Barbie franchise isn’t a bad idea, and it fits into Sony’s already aggressive campaign to make recognizable brands like Angry Birds into films that kids will enjoy and beg to be sequelized. And isn’t it about time we saw the Barbie character treated a little more seriously, instead of being set up to make gags about married potatoes? If done right, it could be an inspirational film that shows what friendship and hard work can do for a young woman in today’s world. Done wrong, and it could start whispers of the Bratz franchise coming back to the big screen.
It can go either way at this point, but now that the gates of Toys R’ Us are opened, we can only imagine what the next toy-based film project will be. Honestly though, with all of this toy talk, can we please get Seth Green and Matthew Seinrich to give us their feature film take on Hungry Hungry Hippos?