When Mattel Execs First Got the ‘Barbie’ Movie Script, It Was 147 Pages Long: ‘It Was Like Going on This Crazy Ride’

Dale Robinette /© Warner Bos. /Courtesy Everett Collection

A new article from The New York Times on how the “Barbie” movie’s success will pay off for Mattel reveals that executives at the company were first treated to a 147-page script for the film. The screenplay by Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach would be shaped into a 114 minute film. Mattel Films head Robbie Brenner was the first exec to read the script.

As The Times reports: “When the script did land in Ms. Brenner’s email, it was 147 pages — the length of a Quentin Tarantino film, epic by Hollywood standards. She closed her office door and started reading. ‘It was like going on this crazy ride,’ she recalled. It broke rules, including the so-called fourth wall, addressing the audience directly. It poked fun at Mattel.”

Brenner immediately went to Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz after she read the script and told him, “I’ve read a lot of scripts, and this is so different. It’s special. You don’t get this feeling many times in an entire career.”

That’s when Kreiz dived in to the 147 pages himself. “It was deep, provoking, unconventional and imaginative,” he said. “It was everything I was hoping it would be.”

Ynon Kreiz, the chief executive of Mattel, and Robbie Brenner, a producer of “Barbie.”

“Barbie” opened to a whopping $162 million over the summer and has gone on to gross over $1.3 billion worldwide to become Warner Bros.’ top-grossing movie in history, taking the title from “Harry Potter and the Death Hallows Part 2.” Star and producer Margot Robbie brought up the $1 billion box office mark during her pitch meetings for the film.

“I think my pitch in the green-light meeting was the studios have prospered so much when they’re brave enough to pair a big idea with a visionary director,” Robbie told Collider. “And then I gave a series of examples like, ‘dinosaurs and [Steven] Spielberg’ – pretty much naming anything that’s been incredible and made a ton of money for the studios over the years. And I was like, ‘And now you’ve got Barbie and Greta Gerwig.’ And I think I told them that it’d make a billion dollars, which maybe I was overselling, but we had a movie to make, okay?”

Gerwig told People magazine before the film joined the $1 billion club that she hoped her movie “is the launch of a world and a bunch of different Barbie movies,” adding, “There’s a tone and a humor and a joy, and obviously the world is so beautiful. “I want to go back to Barbie Land.”

Surely Warner Bros. and Mattel are going to want a “Barbie” sequel, given the historic success of the movie. As Kreiz told Variety, “Successful movies lend themselves to more movies. Our ambition is to create film franchises.”

“At the outset, we’re not saying, ‘Okay, let’s think already about movie two and three.’ Let’s get the first one right and make that a success,” Kreiz added, while calling “Barbie” a “very rich universe” to mine. “And if you do that, opportunities open up very quickly, once you establish the first movie as a successful representation of a franchise on the big screen.”

“Barbie” is playing in theaters nationwide.

From Variety US