Sony Pictures and Mattel are teaming up for a live-action comedy feature based on the hit Barbie toy line. Jenny Bicks has been hired to write the script, with Walter F. Parkes and Laurie McDonald producing.
This isn't a standard development deal, since Sony is putting this project together very quickly. They hope to get production started by the end of this year, kicking of a potential franchise. Sony president Amy Pascal oversaw the deal herself with production president Hannah Minghella.
Walter F. Parkes, Laurie McDonald and Jenny Bicks won over Mattel for the rights to this property with their contemporary pitch that finds Barbie using her personal and professional skills to improve the lives of others, somewhat like a modern-day Mary Poppins. The story allows the studio to find a young cast to play Barbie, Ken and her best friend, while putting major stars around them to play supporting characters that can be changed out in future movies. This method, which is similar to how Marvel creates new stars for their superhero movies, allows the studio to keep costs down, while locking in a cast to appear in multiple features.
While the Barbie toy line, which launched in 1959, has always featured fashionable clothes, the dolls have always focused on female empowerment, with Barbie packages that include over 150 different careers she has taken on.
Mattel had long resisted turning Barbie into a feature-length movie, but they recently invited a group of producers to pitch their ideas. Once Walter F. Parkes, Laurie McDonald and Jenny Bicks' pitch was selected, Amy Pascal moved in quickly to secure a studio commitment from Sony. The project appealed to Sony not only because of the current generation who play with these dolls, but older generations who grew up with Barbie as well.
Here's what Hannah Minghella had to say about the project.
"We've always thought that the Barbie story had great potential, but a universe of possibilities opened up when Jenny, Walter and Laurie brought us their unexpected, clever, and truly funny concept. It captures everything that has made Barbie a classic for generation after generation while also standing on its own, establishing Barbie as a truly original screen character."
Marc Resteghini is executive producing alongside Mattel's Playground Productions executive Julia Pistor. Jenny Bicks' wide-ranging credits include Rio 2, What A Girl Wants and The Greatest Showman on Earth, along with writing for TV shows such as Sex and the City and The Big C.