You’ve seen the perfectly arched foot in the trailer. You’ve poured through the twenty-plus posters of the ensemble cast. You’ve laughed at the “She’s everything. He’s just Ken” memes. It’s true: the Barbie movie is nigh. We’re just a few months out from Greta Gerwig‘s film, starring Margot Robbie as the titular doll with both beauty and brains and Ryan Gosling as her buff beau, Ken. 

But despite the online fanfare, not everyone believed that Gerwig’s inaugural trip to the MCU—that would be the Mattel Cinematic Universe—would ever come to fruition. In a recent video for BAFTA, Robbie admitted that after reading Gerwig and Noah Baumbach‘s Barbie screenplay, she doubted their Barbie movie would get made. “Ah! This is so good,” she said. “What a shame it will never see the light of day, because they are never going to let us make this movie.”

So, how did the Barbie movie get made? And weren’t there once other mega-stars attached to the project before Robbie slipped on the pair of pink pumps? The short answer: Yes. The long answer… 

Rumblings of a film based on the iconic doll began in 2009, when Barbie parent company Mattel signed a deal with Universal Pictures. Laurence Mark was set to produce a project based on Barbie IP, but nothing came of that film. It wasn’t until 2014 that another Barbie film began to take shape, this time with Sony Pictures developing with a script from Sex and the City writer Jenny Bicks. Though filming was expected to begin later that same year, Barbie and her pink convertible hit another bump. Diablo Cody, the Oscar-winning scribe behind Juno, was brought in to rewrite the script, and Sony head Amy Pascal joined the producing team.

And then the hunt for Barbie began. In 2016, comedian Amy Schumer was announced as the titular doll, and even took a pass at the script with her sister and writing partner Kim Caramele. At the time, the film was touted as a fish-out-of-water tale about a doll who gets expelled from Barbieland for not being perfect enough. But four months later, Schumer walked away from the role. At the time, she blamed “scheduling conflicts;” in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter last year, Schumer said more about her decision to walk away. In her version of the film, she said, Barbie was a driven inventor. The studio allegedly requested that Barbie’s invention be “high heels made of jello,” an idea Schumer didn’t jibe with. “The studio definitely didn’t want to do it the way I wanted to do it,” she said. “The only way I was interested in doing it.”

So with one Barbie out, the team went back to the drawing board. By the summer of 2017, Anne Hathaway‘s name was bandied about as a potential Barbie. Sony reportedly hired writer Olivia Milch, who worked with Hathaway on Ocean’s 8, and Australian director Alethea Jones in an attempt to woo Hathway to sign on to the project. It worked, as THR eventually announced that Hathaway would play Barbie. But once again, tragedy befell Barbie’s dream house. Sony’s option on the project expired in 2018, and Mattel regained control to the rights. The film’s release date was then pushed from summer of 2018 to summer of 2020. Shortly after that announcement, the Hathaway version of the film fell apart. 

It started to seem like the Barbie movie, now with almost a decade of development under its belt, would simply never get made. Then along came Margot Robbie. The star was first rumored to be in “early talks” to replace Hathaway in October of 2018, as the movie leapt from Sony back to Universal Pictures. At this point, there were rumors that Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins was circling the project, and Robbie’s production company, LuckyChap, was confirmed to come on board to produce. But even though the project was picking up steam again, there was industry doubt. In January of 2019, Forbes posted an article summing up the skepticism: “Will Margot Robbie’s Barbie Movie Ever Get Made?

Bu, like a bolt out of the blue, Greta Gerwig came in and saw it through. In July of 2019, Variety announced that Gerwig and her partner Noah Baumbach had officially signed on to write the Barbie movie starring Robbie, and in July of 2021, Variety confirmed that Gerwig would also direct the film. In a cover interview with British Vogue, Robbie teased that people might not be prepared for Gerwig’s Barbie movie, which had long ago scrapped the “fish out of water” storyline from the Schumer days. “People generally hear ‘Barbie’ and think, ‘I know what that movie is going to be,’ and then they hear that Greta Gerwig is writing and directing it, and they’re like, ’Oh, well, maybe I don’t…’” said Robbie. 

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