Diablo Cody has revealed details about the creative differences with Sony that led to the scrapping of her “Barbie” script. In an interview with GQ magazine, the Oscar-winning screenwriter claims that the world was not ready for a feminist-themed character, noting that she “shit the bed” because the studios wanted an “anti-Barbie” character.
“When I was first hired for this,” she recalled, “I don’t think the culture had … embraced the femme or the bimbo as valid feminist archetypes yet. If you look up Barbie on TikTok, you’ll find this wonderful subculture that celebrates the feminine, but in 2014, taking this skinny blonde white doll and making her into a heroine was a tall order.”
According to Adam Nayman, who wrote the GQ story, Cody preferred a more “affectionate and idiosyncratic” treatment of the Barbie doll character, who would have been played by Amy Schumer if Cody had her say.
“That idea of an anti-Barbie made a lot of sense given the feminist rhetoric of ten years ago,” Cody was quoted as saying.
“I didn’t really have the freedom then to write something that was faithful to the iconography; they wanted a girl-boss feminist twist on Barbie, and I couldn’t figure it out because that’s not what Barbie is.”
Cody noted that she “grew up playing with Barbies, and those were sort of the first movies that I ever cast.” But she admitted her inability to come up with a treatment that would satisfy the studio, declaring that “I have made several swings at IP with Barbie and Powerpuff Girls, and I take full responsibility for the failures of those attempts because I do have a specific voice and POV, and I haven’t figured out how to modulate it.”
“I mean, nobody really wants to delve deeper into the lore and mythos of Hungry Hungry Hippos,” she added. “That’s not really an artistic exercise.”
Cody had initially been tapped to rewrite a 2014 script by Jenny Bicks, formerly of Sex and the City. After Amy Schumer exited the project, Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach came on board in 2019 when the film shifted to Warner Bros.
For her part, Amy Schumer says she looks forward to the upcoming “Barbie” film. “I can’t wait to see the movie, it looks awesome,” she said in a recent interview. “There’s a new team behind it, and it looks like it’s very feminist and cool.
“Barbie” is set for theatrical release on July 21.
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