Reese Witherspoon Producing “Barbie” Origin Story With Bold Films
Sources have confirmed that Reese Witherspoon and her producing partner Bruna Papandrea are in development with the origin story of the iconic Barbie doll, its company and its creator. Pacific Standard has picked up the rights to Robin Gerber’s BARBIE AND RUTH:The Story of the World’s Most Famous Doll and the Woman Who Created Her and have set up the project at Bold Films. Witherspoon and Papadrea are producing, with Jeanne Snow overseeing for Pacific Standard.
The book, first published in 2010, is the remarkable true story of the world’s most famous toy and the woman who created her, Ruth Handler. The story is described as “a fascinating account of how one visionary woman and her product changed an industry and sparked a lasting debate about women’s roles.”
Handler was inspired to create the now-famous Barbie doll after seeing her daughter, Barbara, playing with paper dolls. Wanting to create a doll that could better support the clothes her daughter was trying to dress the dolls in, Handler found a novelty toy abroad and modified it to work as a toy for children, which her husband’s company Mattel then manufactured. The original Barbie premiered at the American International Toy Fair in 1959.
While Barbie became a household name by the 1970s, selling millions of units over the past five decades, sales of the doll have fallen in recent years amid increased competition and controversies related to the body image issues associated with the doll.
The option on Barbie and Ruth continues Pacific Standard’s recent buying streak. In recent months, Witherspoon and Papandrea have picked up the rights to multiple literary properties, including Luckiest Girl Alive, Napkin Notes and In A Dark, Dark Wood. They’re in active development with adaptations of Maureen Sherry’s Opening Belle and the Gayle Tzemach Lemmon’s Ashley’s War.
The acquisition of the Barbie origin story comes on the heels of Sony’s announcement that they are putting together a feature set ‘in the world of Barbie’, where Barbie “uses the skills she has gained in her personal life and professional experience to help others.” Amy Pascal is producing, with Diablo Cody currently rewriting the script from Jenny Bicks. Interestingly enough, Witherspoon had been rumored to be on the shortlist of A-listers that Sony was eyeing to play Barbie, but that seems unlikely now given she has her own Barbie project in the works–albeit a very different one.
Producers are currently seeking a writer to adapt Gerber’s material for the screen.