Reese Witherspoon Is Developing a Movie About the Creation of Barbie
Not to be confused with Sony’s live-action Barbie movie hitting theaters in 2017, Reese Witherspoon is developing her own Barbie project, but this one isn’t a fictional adventure starring the iconic doll. Instead, Witherspoon is teaming up with her producing partner Bruna Papandrea to tell Barbie’s origin story with a new film based on the book Barbie and Ruth: The Story of the World’s Most Famous Doll and the Woman Who Created Her.
The news comes from The Tracking Board, which reports that Witherspoon and Papandrea have acquired the rights to Robin Gerber’s book, setting the project up via their Pacific Standard banner. There are no details on potential screenwriters or stars at this time, though it’s possible that Witherspoon could end up playing the role of Barbie creator Ruth Handler in what’s 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.”
That definitely sounds like a project well-suited to Witherspoon’s strengths as a producer, and one that could potentially make for a great acting vehicle for the actress.
Released in 2009, the book chronicles the creation of the world’s most famous doll, which began in the ’50s when Handler noticed her daughter Barbara playing with paper dolls, inspiring her to create a sturdier, more functional doll by repurposing a toy she found overseas. Handler took the concept to her husband, the co-founder of Mattel, and his company began producing the toys, with Barbie making her official debut at the American International Toy Fair in 1959.
Handler went on to become the president of Mattel, and resigned after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1970 — but her inventive spirit remained, and when she struggled to find a proper prosthesis after her mastectomy, Handler founded the company Ruthton Corp. to develop her own.
Sony also has a Barbie film in development, though their project is a live-action adventure centering on the fictional character, based on a script by Jenny Bicks (What a Girl Wants) and rewritten by Diablo Cody. That film hits theaters on June 2, 2017.