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Mattel Raised Concerns About One Scene To Barbie Writers: “Does A Mattel Executive Have To Be Shot?”-TGN


  • Mattel took a risk by allowing Greta Gerwig to explore non-traditional themes in the Barbie movie, including patriarchy and existential crises.
  • Despite reservations about one scene, Mattel gave Gerwig a tremendous amount of trust and freedom in the creative process.
  • The freedom given by Mattel allowed Gerwig to create a strong and successful movie, earning over $1.4 billion at the box office.



Mattel had reservations about one scene in Barbie. Based on the toy brand and led by director and screenwriter Greta Gerwig, the Barbie movie starred Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as Mattel’s beloved Barbie and Ken. With the pair visiting the Real World, they discover the truth of the world outside of Barbieland and the oppressiveness of the patriarchy. Launching on the same day as Oppenheimer, the movie was a massive success, earning over $1.4 billion on a budget of under $150 million.

While Mattel allowed many scenes that are fairly uncharacteristic of the toy, including Barbie‘s shocking ending, the company had an issue with one of the scenes. The incident in particular involved a Mattel executive being shot on-screen.Variety reports that the screenwriters, Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, spoke to author Tony Kushner about Mattel’s reservations. Despite the concerns, Gerwig has nothing but praise for Mattel’s handling of the movie. Check out their quotes below:

Baumbach: There was a note when we first turned the script it. On page 111: ‘Does a Mattel executive have to be shot?’ At the time we were like, that should just be on the ad!’

Gerwig: But all the notes had a question mark at the end. It wasn’t like, ‘This has to happen.’ It was more, ‘But does he have to be?’ (Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz) really did give us a tremendous amount of trust and freedom. There was a real, ‘If you say this is right, then let’s go.’

The Freedom Mattel Gave The Barbie Movie

Ryan Gosling as Ken in Barbie

It would have been trivial for Mattel to request that much of the movie be changed. After all, the characters in the Barbie universe tend to be made for children. They are marketed for children and present an image that girls can always become whatever they want to be. It is a touching sentiment that always works to ensure a positive environment. That is a very different theme than what Gerwig explored in her movie.

Barbie is officially rated PG-13 and may not be appropriate for young children.

Under Gerwig’s direction, Barbie is able to focus on very different elements than Mattel might have. It tackles the patriarchy, greed, and even an existential crisis that sees Ken struggling to rectify his place in the world. There are raunchy jokes, characters questioning why the world is not what Mattel promised, and countless other issues that may not necessarily fit with the world Mattel created. A Mattel executive being shot is only a symptom of that change.

Mattel did not have to offer that level of freedom, but it produced a movie that was strong enough to secure $1.4 billion. Given how many other movies failed at the box office during the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, it is a sign of the power of Gerwig’s vision. Mattel may have had concerns with the shooting in Barbie, but the company was right to offer Gerwig the artistic freedom that she needed.

Source: Variety

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