Hollywood may finally be learning a lesson conservatives have been shouting from the roof tops.
Recent woke fare like “Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies” and the “Willow” TV series not only got canceled in a flash but vanished from their respective streaming platforms. Then-HBO Max nixed the “Batgirl” film before it could be released, choosing a tax write-off over another potential woke dud.
Netflix deep-sized Meghan Markle’s animated “Pearl,” the “adventures of a 12-year-old girl, who is inspired by influential women from history,” before it could reach the streaming platform.
And that doesn’t include how woke has damaged enduring brands like Pixar, “Star Wars,” “Indiana Jones” and the “Terminator” saga. (Not to mention Disney, Inc.)
The team behind “Barbie” are paying attention.
Mattel, the mega-two company behind the iconic doll, kept a sharp eye out while the Margot Robbie feature went through production. The company suits don’t want the film’s potentially progressive leanings to dominate the news cycle.
Not yet, at least. Wait until they count the opening weekend grosses, which could be sizable based on early predictions.
Robbie Brenner, Mattel Films’ first-ever executive producer and “the architect of its cinematic universe,” according to Time, said that the Greta Gerwig-directed film (which she co-wrote with partner Noah Baumbach) was “not a feminist movie.” It was reportedly a “sentiment echoed by other Mattel executives,” according to reporter Eliana Dockterman, and one that seemed to catch caught Robbie off guard when broached.
Robbie, who also serves as a producer on the film, gave an answer most politicians would be proud to call their own on the topic.
“Who said that?” she reportedly asked, before expounding on, in her opinion, whether the film could be labeled feminist. “It’s not that it is, or it isn’t. It’s a movie. It’s a movie that’s got so much in it.”
Amy Schumer, originally attached to play the title character, left the project over creative differences. So did ace scribe Diablo Cody, who recently shared why she departed the production.
“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.”
Meanwhile, the actors are more than happy to push the film’s potentially woke elements, disinterested in how it could impact the movie’s bottom line.
Yet the film’s marketing machine isn’t promoting its feminist bona fides. The movie’s trailers focus on fashion, fun, giddy interactions and humor.
The movie’s aggressively diverse cast is a large part of the marketing efforts, but the stars are mostly sticking to the apolitical script.
While the “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” trailer mocked capitalism, the “Barbie” sneak peeks keep the story, and the messaging, a mystery.
It’s not hard to read between the lines. Director/co-screenwriter Greta Gerwig often uses her work to explore gender issues, from “Lady Bird” to “Little Women.” The early previews suggest she did it again.
None of this shares if the movie is good, bad or indifferent. We’ll have to wait until July 21 to find out.
Yet the message discipline for “Barbie’s” marketing team has been nothing short of outstanding. Most potential movie goers won’t read the quotes from Ferrell, Gerwig or Nef. They’ll be too busy sharing the cute clips and frothy trailers on social media.
If “Barbie” is the first woke blockbuster, it’ll be partly thanks to a bait-and-switch press push.