Anne Hathaway is talking about stepping into the role of Barbie for Sony Pictures, though the studio said “it is premature.” That comes even as its known that Alethea Jones also has been circling to direct after a nod from Hathaway.
Hathaway had been in the mix shortly after Amy Schumer left the project in March. The first big-screen, live-action Barbie film promises to get a huge marketing push from Sony and its partner Mattel in the summer 2018.
The movie is being produced by the husband/wife team of Walter Parkes and Lori MacDonald, along with former Sony studio chairman Amy Pascal (who bought the rights in 2014 while an executive). Mattel’s President and COO of Richard Dickson, who over the past two years has worked to modernize the brand, will serve as executive producer.
Pascal had alluded to talking to an Oscar-winning actress for the role of Barbie in her recent interview with The New York Times, which was no secret around town was Hathaway, but no one knew if the deal would make because of scheduling conflicts. Olivia Milch (Oceans Eight) was brought on to rewrite the script in the hope of getting Hathaway.
If a deal can be made, Hathaway would play a character who lives in Barbieland, where she gets kicked out basically because she’s not perfect enough, is a bit eccentric and doesn’t quite fit the mold. She then goes on an adventure in the real world, and by the time she returns to Barbieland to save it, she has gained the realization that perfection comes on the inside, not the outside, and that the key to happiness is belief in oneself, free of the obligation to adhere to some unattainable standard of perfection.
The film is expected to be PG and a broader family comedy along the lines of Splash, Enchanted and Big.
Mattel has been fiercely protective of the Barbie brand, as any corporation would be. Barbie has transformed over generations as society has changed, adding people of color in the 1960s, changing stereotypes from Queen of the Prom and airline outfits to keeping in step with today’s ever-evolving, more diverse world.
Barbie now incorporates different occupations and body types to become all inclusive and to reflect the population. Mattel even has Petite Barbie and Tall Barbie. It also started a Barbie YouTube channel. The brand itself is huge, logging in with sales of more than $3 billion worldwide.
Few know, but Barbie — in her inception — actually was based on a German doll and racy comic book character named Lily. But that was many decades ago. Ruth Handler modeled Barbie after Lily and then the doll was introduced at the 1959 World’s Fair in Moscow.
Hathaway won her Oscar for Les Miserables, was just onscreen in Colossal and co-stars in next year’s Ocean’s Eight. She is repped by CAA, Management 360 and Sloane Offer. Jones is repped by Paradigm, 3 Arts and Lichter Grossman.