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Barbie 2 - Will It Ever Happen?

Having spent years in development hell cycling through several directors and actors, "Barbie" finally premiered in July 2023. Directed and co-written by Oscar nominee Greta Gerwig, the film stars Margot Robbie as the titular doll and Ryan Gosling as her counterpart Ken. Set (at least initially) in a fictional world known as Barbie Land, the movie follows Barbie and Ken as they learn what it means to be an individual in an apparently perfect life.

With so many high-profile names attached, expectations for "Barbie" were high, but few could have predicted the runaway success it would become. Having grossed more than a billion dollars, it is now one of the most successful films of recent times. With all that success, it seems impossible that this will be the final film in the franchise. Despite all of that, there's been no official confirmation that a sequel is in the works, leaving many to wonder whether "Barbie 2" will ever actually happen. Here's what we know.

Why isn't Barbie 2 happening yet?

While it's been a massive success, it shouldn't be all that surprising that a sequel for "Barbie" is not currently in the works (at least as far as we know). Why? Because the fantasy comedy film only hit cinemas in July 2023 and is still a very recent release at the time of this writing. Considering the success of the film and the fact that theatrical runs usually last at least a few weeks (they can run up to three months in total), "Barbie" is likely to be in cineplexes for some time yet. Executives are unlikely to want to take the shine off the film while it is still showing in cinemas.

Studio bosses were also probably waiting to see just how well received "Barbie" was both commercially and critically before committing to any sequels. After all, the project had a budget of around $145 million and deciding to make a follow-up without knowing if it was successful could have been a major mistake. And, Marvel movies aside, sequels are not typically announced until they are well into production, often just a year or so out from their release. Taking into account all of those factors, it makes a lot of sense that a "Barbie" sequel isn't happening yet.

None of the main stars have signed up for a sequel

It is not unusual for new franchises to sign actors up for long term deals. You just have to look at some of the stars of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to see that strategy in action, with Anthony Mackie originally contracted for 10 movies. For movie studios, it's an easy way to secure talent and keep the original actors in roles if subsequent sequels or spin-offs are developed, often at lower wages than would be possible if deals were renegotiated after each release. Of course, it can be detrimental to the actors in some cases, forcing them to reprise roles they end up hating.

For "Barbie," Warner Bros. didn't sign up any of the cast and crew to long term contracts. In fact, the studio doesn't have an option for any of the major stars or director Greta Gerwig. Reports indicate that Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling have no obligation to return to their roles, while Gerwig's agency turned down a potential "Barbie" sequel deal, opting to return to the negotiating table following the release of the film. The Hollywood Reporter also suggests that the timing of the film's release may have complicated these matters, with the 2023 SAG-AFTRA Strike creating some stumbling blocks.

A sequel seems certain given the staggering numbers

One thing that is certain is that discussions over a sequel to "Barbie" will be taking place behind closed doors. You don't need a well-placed insider to know that. The film has been a huge hit for everyone involved, going down very well with both critics and fans. "Barbie" currently boasts a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 88% based on over 440 critical reviews, while fan reviews have generated an audience score of 83%. That puts it among the best received films of the year.

In terms of box office takings, "Barbie" is now among the top 25 highest-grossing films of all time. At the time of this writing, it has grossed $1.187 billion, with $526.3 million in the United States alone. This means it has beaten the likes of "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" and "Fast X," and the figures could still rise. The only film that has been more successful at the box office in 2023 is "The Super Mario Bros. Movie," which has a worldwide gross of $1.356 billion.

What Greta Gerwig has said about Barbie 2

The director and co-writer of "Barbie" has given some mixed messages when it comes to the future of this potentially huge franchise. Having played such an important role in the production of the film, Greta Gerwig would likely be influential in developing a sequel. Back in November 2022, Gerwig told Variety that while she was unable to confirm whether this movie would mark the beginning of a new franchise, she was excited about the possibilities. Although, that was long before the success of "Barbie" became clear.

More recently, Gerwig was asked by The New York Times whether fans should consider "Barbie" to be a standalone film with a complete story or the start of a new big screen series. While she didn't confirm or deny either possibility, Gerwig did make it clear that she isn't ready to start thinking about "Barbie 2" – at least in the near future, as she recharges and takes a break. "At this moment, it's all I've got," she said. "I feel like that at the end of every movie, like I'll never have another idea and everything I've ever wanted to do, I did. I wouldn't want to squash anybody else's dream but for me, at this moment, I'm at totally zero."

In another interview with People, the director gave a far more positive answer. Gerwig revealed that she wants to see "Barbie" sequels and that she hopes her film will be the "launch of a world and a bunch of different Barbie movies." She continued, "There's a tone and a humor and a joy, and obviously the world is so beautiful. I want to go back to Barbie Land." It seems like Gerwig definitely wants to do more "Barbie" films, just not anytime soon.

Margot Robbie has had discussions about a sequel

Margot Robbie proved to be another vital cog in the machine that eventually saw "Barbie" release in movie theaters around the world. Not only did she star as the protagonist, but she also helped produce the film with her production company LuckyChap Entertainment alongside her husband Tom Ackerley. "In that very first meeting, we impressed upon Ynon [Kreiz, Mattel CEO] we are going to honor the legacy of your brand, but if we don't acknowledge certain things — if we don't say it, someone else is going to say it," Robbie told Time magazine. "So you might as well be a part of that conversation."

Any sequel for "Barbie" is likely to involve Robbie in some capacity, even if it's just as a producer rather than an actor. However, in that same conversation with Time, the Australian A-lister was non-committal. She confirmed that discussions had taken place but added that nothing had been decided as of yet and that she wasn't sure what might happen in the next few years. "It could go a million different directions from this point," the two-time Oscar nominee said. "But I think you fall into a bit of a trap if you try and set up a first movie whilst also planning for sequels." Then, when speaking to the Associated Press in November 2023, Robbie sounded even more cautious, saying about the first film, "I think we put everything we had into this one. We didn't build it to be a trilogy or something. [Director] Greta [Gerwig] put everything into this movie, so I can't imagine what would be next."

Ryan Gosling is seemingly down to return

Ryan Gosling put on a scene-stealing performance as Ken in "Barbie." He performs a song that's become a viral smash in "I'm Just Ken," and his acting alongside Margot Robbie has been widely praised. But Gosling has a reputation for not being involved in sequels and, according to The Hollywood Reporter, he tends to avoid major studio movies as much as possible to focus on projects that are more interesting to him. In fact, Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie had to doggedly pursue Gosling for the Ken role, with the actor apparently taking some convincing.

All this seems to suggest that Gosling would be unlikely to appear in a "Barbie" sequel. However, he clearly doesn't follow his no sequels rule religiously: Gosling's Netflix film "The Gray Man" is getting a follow-up, and he is reprising the lead role. In a brief interview with Entertainment Tonight, Gosling was asked about a potential "Barbie" sequel. While he was unwilling to answer the question directly, suggesting that it would be better to ask Greta Gerwig or Margot Robbie, he did reveal that he would happily team up with them again. He said: "I would work with Greta and Margot on anything."

What could be explored in Barbie 2?

There are a number of different ways that a potential "Barbie" sequel could go. While the film is certainly a self-contained story with a definitive beginning and ending, it actually subtly sets up future films and leaves the door open for an entire franchise. The obvious thing to explore in "Barbie 2" is how Margot Robbie's character is coping with her new life as a human. By the end of "Barbie," she is living in the real world under the name Barbara Handler and is seemingly still close to both Sasha and Gloria.

On the other hand, Barbie Land is filled with a huge number of Barbies and Kens, all with their own individual personalities and characteristics. A sequel could easily focus on following any of these figures — or even a group of them, with the ensemble comedy route a definite possibility — as they continue their adventures in Barbie Land. There are lots of questions that still need answering, including how the Barbies and Kens are adjusting to their new way of living together.

Who would star in Barbie 2?

In an ideal world, the "Barbie" sequel would see Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling reprising their roles. Both actors have been praised for their performances and were specifically chosen to portray Barbie and Ken. Mattel executives believed Robbie was the perfect casting choice, while Greta Gerwig was determined to land Gosling despite the fact that he was reluctant at first. Executives are bound to want their familiar (and super bankable) faces in the sequel, so there's a good chance that Robbie and Gosling will be back in some capacity should a sequel get greenlit. Of course, Robbie and Gosling were supported by a great extended cast in "Barbie," and there's a good chance that many of them would also be involved again.

What about newcomers to the cast? The release of "Barbie" at the same time as Christopher Nolan's "Oppenheimer" led to a lot of memes and connections between the two movies. It also meant that the casts of both films got asked about the other. Emily Blunt and Cillian Murphy faced questions about the possibility of appearing in a "Barbie" sequel, and they're apparently game. "Would I play a Ken in 'Barbie 2?' Sure," Murphy told Cinéfilos. "Let's read the script and let's have a conversation." Meanwhile, Blunt showed genuine excitement when asked about a potential role in "Barbie 2" and said that she would love to work on anything with Greta Gerwig.

Mattel wants a cinematic universe based on its toys

Mattel doesn't just own the rights to Barbie, but a whole host of popular toys. The company boasts some of the most recognizable intellectual property in the world. With the success of "Barbie," it seems like Mattel is looking to also exploit its other brands, bringing a range of toy-based movies to fans. Reports suggest that the company is looking to create an entire Mattel Universe of movies. In fact, the company is thought to have as many as 45 films in various stages of development, with the likes of J.J. Abrams and Lena Dunham attached.

Upcoming Mattel movies that are currently in the pipeline include ones based on "Polly Pocket," "Barney," "Magic 8 Ball," "Masters of the Universe," "Hot Wheels," and even "Uno." Of the latter project, Forbes said: "Probably not the most obvious movie IP, but there is supposedly already a script for the film which will be a heist movie based around the Atlanta rap scene. Yes, really. Lil' Yachty is reportedly in line for a starring role."

Perhaps the most buzz-worthy of all the planned projects is the long-awaited "Masters of the Universe" reboot, which looks ideally placed to take on Marvel and DC in the blockbuster stakes. One thing's for sure — Mattel is looking to take advantage of its already established fanbase. "The people who buy our products are not just consumers, they are fans," Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz told Deadline. "And once you have an audience, more opportunities open up to engage with your fans in many ways and to create value from that engagement."

Mattel sees lots of opportunities with Barbie

Not only is Mattel looking to adapt its other toy brands, the company is also keen to see more of Barbie on the big screen. CEO Ynon Kreiz revealed before the release of "Barbie" that he could envision many different sequels and spin-offs. The fact that there are so many different Barbie dolls means there's a lot to work with in terms of new stories set in this world. In an interview with Variety, Kreiz opened up about the near-limitless possibilities.

"Barbie, as a brand, has many different iterations," Kreiz said. "The product lines of Barbie is a very broad brand. In addition to the main Barbie figure, she has family, she has a lot of elements around in her universe. It's a very rich universe... It's a very broad and very elastic brand, in terms of opportunities." Kreiz went on to confirm that Mattel didn't intend to start working on sequels right out of the gate, but money talks and the box office figures speak for themselves. "Successful movies lend themselves to more movies," Kreiz added. "Our ambition is to create film franchises."

A Ken spin-off may be in development

While "Barbie" is a movie that celebrates the titular doll, it wouldn't have been the same if it didn't feature various versions of Barbie's long-time companion Ken. A lot of humor comes by way of the different Kens in Barbie Land. There's Ryan Gosling playing the stereotypical counterpart to Margot Robbie's Barbie, as well as Simu Liu, Ncuti Gatwa, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Scott Evans, and even John Cena all portraying different Kens. When considering the future of the "Barbie" franchise, a spin-off focusing on Ken would seem like a good contender. But how likely is this to happen?

According to industry insider Daniel Richtman (via ComingSoon), a Ken-centric spin-off is actually being developed right now. In his report, Richtman reveals that the project is in the early stages of development, with Ryan Gosling set to reprise his role as the Ken who inspired a takeover of Barbie Land. There's nobody officially attached and it's all unconfirmed at the moment. However, it would make a lot of sense for Mattel and Warner Bros. to expand the "Barbie" franchise by focusing on spin-offs as well as direct sequels.

Who would direct the sequel?

Throughout its development, the "Barbie" movie had several different directors apparently attached to it. Some of the earliest names rumored to be involved included Alethea Jones and Patty Jenkins. Greta Gerwig was confirmed to be taking on directing duties in 2021 and she was instrumental in determining how "Barbie" turned out. After all, she didn't just direct the film, she also co-wrote it alongside her partner Noah Baumbach. With that in mind, it seems like a given that Gerwig would be the first choice to direct "Barbie 2," especially considering the huge success of the movie.

Sadly, this may not be possible, at least in the short term. Gerwig is set to begin work on her "Chronicles of Narnia" films for Netflix, directing and writing both projects. She will likely be busy with these movies for some time, and, outside of Gerwig, it isn't immediately clear who would direct a "Barbie" sequel. Of course, execs could turn to one of the people linked to the job when the first film was in development, or perhaps even to Robbie herself, who is yet to add directing to her ever-expanding resume.

Barbie 2 might not arrive for a long time

Even if a sequel to "Barbie" is announced, it may well be a long time before fans get to see it. That's unwelcome news for Barbie lovers, but they are used to waiting for films at this point — a live-action movie based on the famous doll was first announced more than a decade ago, with Universal Pictures entering a deal with Mattel to produce it. This was in 2009. More than five years passed without any additional information before Sony picked up the rights.

During this period, Amy Schumer was hired to play the lead part, but she left the film when she felt executives at Sony weren't making the type of movie that she felt "Barbie" should be. Anne Hathaway was then lined up to star, but the project never fell into place and Sony's rights lapsed after it failed to begin filming in time. Warner Bros. then took on the production and put Greta Gerwig in place, quickly casting Margot Robbie in a move that proved very fruitful indeed.

Of course, this isn't to say that "Barbie 2" won't happen for another decade. However, finding the right people to bring the first film to life was clearly quite tricky. With Greta Gerwig seemingly out of the short-term picture due to other commitments, another prolonged pre-production period could well be on the cards as execs go about assembling the best team they can for "Barbie 2."