Amy Schumer is in negotiations to play the title role in Barbie, the live-action Sony Pictures film based on the venerable Mattel toyline. The PG movie will begin production in the spring for a global summer 2018 tentpole bow, after Schumer puts her imprint on the Hilary Winston script, doing a rewrite with her sister Kim Caramele. Given her edgy stand-up comedy and her movie breakthrough writing and starring in the R-rated Trainwreck, what makes Schumer the right actress to play the embodiment of a beloved toyline that for years featured a doll with impossibly perfect physical proportions? Aside from the fact that she has Barbie hair, Schumer’s growing stature as a role model for female empowerment fits perfectly with how the film will exploit Barbie’s evolution into dolls of different sizes and shapes.
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Schumer will play a character who lives in Barbieland, among all of the various Barbie characters beloved by doll collectors (there are dolls covering over 180 careers). In a fish-out-of-water story reminiscent of films like Splash and Big, Schumer’s Barbie gets kicked out, basically because she’s not perfect enough, is a bit eccentric and doesn’t quite fit the mold. She then goes on an adventure in the real world and by the time she returns to Barbieland to save it, she has gained the realization that perfection comes on the inside, not the outside, and that the key to happiness is belief in oneself, free of the obligation to adhere to some unattainable standard of perfection. Mattel, with a lot at stake since the toyline has generated $3 billion in sales, signed off on the take.
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While Sony, and the film’s producers — Walter Parkes & Lori MacDonald (who won the rights from the toymaker in 2014), and Amy Pascal (who bought the project as Sony Pictures chairman before joining as producer) — worked on numerous drafts by top female writers for several years, this one came together like a bolt from the blue after Winston and the producers cracked the code with a funny empowerment take that sparked the interest of Schumer and made her want to fit it into her crowded movie schedule. Sony chief Tom Rothman brought the script to Schumer personally, and pitched the take to her. After she read Winston’s script, Schumer emailed that she was in. A deal is now being finalized.
The studio will now lock in a director, and the clear intention is that the filmmaker be a woman. Word around Hollywood is there is a short list of directors including Me Before You helmer Thea Sharrock (who is apparently unavailable for the slot), but it’s a big job and the studio expects to fill it shortly.
Schumer, who wrapped an untitled Jonathan Levine-directed comedy for Fox and the Jason Hall-directed DreamWorks drama Thank You For Your Service, also co-wrote with Jennifer Lawrence a script they will star in together. She is repped by UTA and Maverick Management’s Guy Oseary and Carrie Byalick at B, and attorney Isaac Dunham.
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