The ripple effect of ‘Barbie’ – Massachusetts Daily Collegian

By Mary DeCarlo, Collegian Contributor

“Barbie” sold more tickets faster than any other movie in all of Warner Brother’s history. One of the biggest events of the summer was “Barbenheimer” on July 21, when “Oppenheimer” and “Barbie” were released in theaters. While both movies were instant blockbusters, Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” exceeded all expectations. “Barbie” is now Warner Brother’s highest-grossing global release ever, surpassing “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.”

While the film’s immense amount of success cannot be debated, is the film industry responding to it properly? “Barbie” is a movie about many complicated themes surrounding womanhood: femininity, aging, motherhood and more. Instead of taking these themes as reasons for the film’s  success, the movie industry is responding to it by churning out as many movies about toys as possible.

A movie about the beloved toy “Polly Pocket” starring Lily Collins and directed by Lena Dunham is currently in the works, according to Variety. So is a “Hot Wheels” movie directed by J.J. Abrams. Movies based on “Thomas the Tank Engine,” “Uno,” “Barney” and the “Magic 8 Ball” are all in pre-production, too.  A majority of these films were announced after “Barbie’s” smash hit success, as Mattel and other companies sought to profit from this supposed “new” market of movies based on nostalgic toys.

Actor Randall Park said it best in an interview with Rolling Stone: “’Barbie’” is this massive blockbuster, and the idea is: Make more movies about toys! No — make more movies by and about women!”

While part of  “Barbie’s” success certainly came from the nostalgia of the toy from their own childhood’s, movie-goers left contemplating the hypocrisy of womanhood. Greta Gerwig’s interpretation and execution of the most iconic doll of all time is the first woman-directed film to reach $1 billion at the box office, according to CBS news.

Bank of America said there was a spike in money spent on entertainment in July 2023 and credits it to the cultural phenomenon, “Barbenheimer.” The release of “Barbie” has made a measurable impact on the economy since its release. On opening weekend, 69 percent of the film’s ticket buyers were women, according to The Hollywood Reporter. So why don’t movie studios realize women are a massive factor in the film’s success?

A movie being successful because of its commentary on womanhood is so far-fetched that top executives probably don’t even consider it as a viable option. People couldn’t possibly like a movie because it points out the hypocrisy women constantly face and how aging is a beautiful process. At least, that is what Hollywood believes.

Instead of giving resources to women in the film industry who want to make movies about womanhood, studios put their resources into making movies about a deck of cards and toy cars. They don’t see the potential of movies with similar themes as “Barbie,” and it will take a lot more than Randall Park calling them out on it to see some actual change.

Does a movie about “Barney” or “Thomas the Tank Engine” have the potential to garner the same hype that “Barbie” did? “Barbie” was the first movie of its kind to showcase the level of box office success that it did. We can only hope that Hollywood will soon realize its mistake in underestimating “Barbie” and will finally give more movies like it a chance: movies where the main character isn’t reduced to a romantic interest or the cellulite on her thighs.

Mary DeCarlo can be reached at [email protected]