Meryl Steep Praises Barbie as the “Savior” of Hollywood and 2023’s Box Office

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Summary

  • Meryl Streep praised Barbie as the savior of cinema in 2023, which became the first movie to break $1 billion that year.
  • Noah Baumbach, writer of Barbie, initially thought the film was a “terrible idea” but changed his mind after reading an impactful script draft.
  • Barbie‘s success marks an important cultural change in the film industry and a significant achievement for women filmmakers.


The Palm Springs Film Awards saw a number of Oscar contenders getting a foot on the awards ladder, but it wasn’t just those taking awards that were lavished with praise. Before presenting Carey Mulligan with the International Star Award for her role in the Bradley Cooper-led Maestro, Meryl Streep took a moment to share some love for Barbie, which she praised as the savior of cinema, and Hollywood in 2023.

Billie Eilish and Finneas received the Chairman’s Award for their song “What Was I Made For?” from the $1.4 billion grossing movie prior to Streep taking the stage, most likely a win that will be repeated across many more awards ceremonies in the coming months. In a similar moment to Steven Spielberg’s declaration that Top Gun: Maverick saved the movie business following the Covid pandemic, Streep suggested the same of Barbie, which became the only movie to break $1 billion in 2023. During her speech, Streep said:

“[The team] have delivered the ‘Barbie’ love bomb, You saved the movies last summer and all of our jobs. You’ve delivered joy to countless generations and genders of people, and you should surf that wave, kids, until you’re old and deserve to be jaded like me.”

Somewhat ironically, Barbie writer and Greta Gerwig’s partner Noah Baumbach was not convinced about making the film that ended up becoming the highest grossing movie of 2023, and even thought it was a “terrible idea.”

The film based on the popular Mattel doll was a controversial project from the beginning, mainly due to the uncertainty about its plot. Fans were not sure if it was going to tell the story of Barbie’s origin as a product, an imaginary story like the many animated movies in the franchise, or be a philosophical reflection on Barbie’s role in Western culture. In some way, Gerwig and Baumbach’s script is a mix of all of that with many surprising elements, which turned the movie into an unprecedented phenomenon.

Barbie
Barbie

Release Date
July 21, 2023

While the director had a lot of faith in what she was doing from the beginning, her partner wasn’t so sure that they were taking a risk that was worth it. In fact, as Baumbach stated during a special screening of Barbie at the Writers Guild of America West, the project was not something he was excited about (via Variety):

“I thought it was a terrible idea and Greta signed me up for it. I was just like, ‘I don’t see how this is going to be good at all.’ I kind of blocked it for a while and every time she’d bring it up, I’d be like, ‘You’ve gotta get us out of this.’ And then the pandemic happened…”

Later in the conversation, Baumbach explained when he changed his mind, it was while reading a draft from the script:

“It was Barbie waking up in her Dreamhouse and coming out to her backyard and meeting somebody who was sick and dying. I read these pages and I thought, ‘I understand now what this is.’ The movie is about embracing your mortality and about the mess of it all, so it was exciting.”

Related
8 Performances in Noah Baumbach Movies That Deserved Oscar Nominations

A majority of Baumbach’s films have been snubbed entirely. It’s sad to see this, considering the great performances his work usually inspires.


Greta Gerwig Wanted to Make Barbie for the Sake of Future Generations of Women Filmmakers

Greta Gerwig Directing Lady Bird
A24

Barbie not only broke incredible records for the world of cinema, it is also one of the most successful films directed by a woman, which marks an important step into a cultural change within the industry that has been developing for some years.

And that was one of the reasons why the director wanted to make the film, even though it represented a great risk:

“I was aware of the fact that I wanted it to work and also that it was a risk. It was a risk for the studio to make it and for Mattel to make it. And it’s also, as a ‘lady director’ and a lady thing and it’s a big risk for a lady – in that context, I wanted it to work because I wanted to maybe make it easier for whatever the next thing is.”

Barbie currently occupies the 14th place in the ranking of the highest-grossing films in history, very close to Frozen 2 and Top Gun: Maverick.

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