At first the series consisted of just these four short films, but after 14 years, feature length CGI films began being produced, the first being Barbie in the Nutcracker. It was marketed as Barbie's first full-length movie. Kelly Sheridan provided Barbie's voice and Barbie starred in several films featuring princeses, mermaids, fairies and other fantasy and romance themes.
Many of the Barbie movies are stand alone tales. There are several series within the overall collection. The most notable of these are the Barbie Princesses Collection series, Barbie Fairytopia series, mermaid-themed series, modern day-themed series, as well as musical and ballet series. Some films are based on the story from E.T.A Hoffmann, The Brothers Grimm, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Hans Christian Andersen, and Alexander Dumas. Some also include music from Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Antonín Dvořák, Mendelssohn, and Adolphe Adam.
In 2010, Mattel wanted to take a different approach to Barbie films. It was started in Barbie in A Mermaid Tale when Barbie films were modernised. On fall 2010, for the first time Barbie was voiced by Diana Kaarina in the modern movie Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale and she continued voicing Barbie in three other movies. Kelly Sheridan returned in 2012 to reprise her role as Merliah Summers in Barbie in A Mermaid Tale 2 and also as the speaking voice of Princess Tori from Barbie: The Princess & The Popstar, meaning that she returned as the voice of Barbie. The Barbie movies are now modern fairytales.
The series is produced by Mattel Entertainment. Since 2010 (also beginning with Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale), Mattel refers themselves as "Barbie Entertainment" exclusively for the Barbie film production. The films can be seen occasionally on Nickelodeon, usually after the official DVD release as an advertising tool. Mattel is purchasing the time from Nickelodeon to air them usually on Sunday afternoons. In rare cases, they may even "premiere" on Nickelodeon before the DVD release.
List of Barbie animated films
First generation (1987)
First generation comprised two TV specials. Barbie and the Rockers: Out of this World was created in 1987 by DIC Entertainment with Saban Productions. It was aired with Barbie and the Sensations: Rockin' Back to Earth as a two part mini-series, with each installment lasting for approximately 25 minutes. This miniseries was supposed to have been the pilot for a Monday-Friday Barbie cartoon series. Unfortunately, negotiations between DIC and Mattel fell through, and the project eventually emerged with a whole new set of characters — and the sponsorship of Mattel rival Hasbro — as Maxie's World in 1988.The story was based on the Barbie and the Rockers doll line in which Barbie is the lead singer of a rock band.
- Barbie and the Rockers: Out of this World - 1987 (TV Special)
- Barbie and the Sensations: Rockin' Back to Earth - 1987 (TV Special)
Second generation (2001–2009)
The second generation comprised 16 films. In 2001, the first CGI-animated Barbie movie was released with Barbie in the Nutcracker, and it was tagged as Barbie's first ever movie. Mattel auditioned 70 people to find the right voice for Barbie, and they eventually picked Kelly Sheridan (who has become Barbie's voice ever since). The theme was usually based on ballet stories and fairy tales, featuring Barbie as a princess, a fairy or a mermaid. Some are original works such as the Fairytopia series.
- Barbie in the Nutcracker- 2001
- Barbie as Rapunzel - 2002
- Barbie of Swan Lake - 2003
- Barbie Fairytopia - 2005
- Barbie Fairytopia: Mermaidia - 2006
- The Barbie Diaries - 2006
- Barbie & The Diamond Castle - 2008
- Barbie in A Christmas Carol - 2008
- Barbie Presents Thumbelina - 2009
Third generation (2010 - present)
After the previous successful films, Mattel decided to change the entire Barbie brand that could affect the types of movies they would be making. They wanted to move away from the classic princess stories in an effort to focus on something more modern and fashion oriented. In 2010, beginning with Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale, Kelly Sheridan was replaced by Diana Kaarina to match this new direction. However, she returned to the role with Barbie in A Mermaid Tale 2 in 2012. Rob Hudnut, the executive producer and vice president of Barbie Entertainment at Mattel, stated that they would continue to produce Barbie films, making two or three per year. There are plans for more musicals. They have also expanded into a web series called Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse, for older girls.
- Barbie in A Mermaid Tale - 2010
- Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale - 2010
- Barbie: A Fairy Secret - 2011
- Barbie: A Perfect Christmas - 2011
- Barbie in A Mermaid Tale 2 - 2012
- Barbie in The Pink Shoes - 2013
Entertainment Weekly and IGN has confirmed that Sony Pictures has partnered with Mattel and Parkes+MacDonald/Image Nation for a live-action comedy featuring Barbie. Sony considers this as it's next “big, global franchise” and plans for the project to go into production by the end of 2014, according to a press release.
The live-action film will be written by Jenny Bicks (Sex and the City) and will be produced by Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald. The story will follow Barbie through many of her more than 150 roles, not limited to but including mermaid, princess, and president.
In a press release, Columbia Pictures’ president of Production, Hannah Minghella, said, “We’ve always thought that the Barbie story had great potential, but a universe of possibilities opened up when Jenny, Walter and Laurie brought us their unexpected, clever, and truly funny concept. It captures everything that has made Barbie a classic for generation after generation while also standing on it's own, establishing Barbie as a truly original screen character. We’re confident that Barbie will delight audiences, no matter where her adventures take her.”
There’s no word yet on whether Ken, Barbie's well-known boyfriend, will appear.
Aside from starring in her own movies, Barbie was also featured as a supporting character in Toy Story series, and one of the main characters of My Scene movies. There are also few short films and a web show with five seasons. Barbie was supposed to appear in the first Toy Story movie as Woody's girlfriend, but she was replaced with Bo Peep. This is because Mattel did not want Barbie to be given a personality, because, to make Barbie dolls unique to every purchaser, the purchaser was supposed to think of their own personality for Barbie. In 2006, Mattel re-branded My Scene franchise in which Barbie was replaced by Kennedy, saying that "Barbie moved to California".
- Dance! Workout with Barbie - 1992
- Barbie Birthday Party at Walt Disney World Epcot '94 - 1994
- Toy Story 2 - 1999
- My Scene - 2002-2008 (Web series)
- My Scene: Jammin' in Jamaica - 2004
- My Scene: Masquerade Madness - 2004
- My Scene Goes Hollywood - 2005
- Toy Story 3 - 2010
- Barbie Fashionistas: Swappin' Styles - 2011
- Hawaiian Vacation - 2011 (Short film)
- Barbie: A Camping We Will Go - 2011 (Short film)
- Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse - 2012-present (Web series)
- Land of Sweets - 2013 (Christmas special short film)
After the success of Barbie in the Nutcracker in 2001, and Barbie of Swan Lake in 2003, Mattel Entertainment was supposed to adapt Tchaikovsky's The Sleeping Beauty ballet (the third of the three ballets he created) into a Barbie film, titled Barbie as the Sleeping Beauty. However, the Walt Disney Company filed a trademark application on March 13, 2007, for the name "Princess Aurora" that would cover all live-action and recorded movie, television, radio, stage, computer, Internet, news, and photographic entertainment uses, except literature works of fiction and nonfiction. This has caused controversy because "Princess Aurora" is also the name of the lead character in Tchaikovsky's ballet version of the story, from which Disney acquired some of the music for its 1959 animated film version. Therefore, a campaign has emerged to complain to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office if people feel this trademarking of a pre-existing character name should not be allowed. The trademark was granted despite this on January 17, 2012.
The move could also sink any movie about the ballet or that uses a scene of the ballet in another movie. This has caused Mattel to abandon Barbie as the Sleeping Beauty film production, and everything was shelved. It would have been the sixteenth Barbie feature film, and to also have been based on Charles Perrault's fairytale. It was originally scheduled to be released during the fall of 2008, but was pushed back to 2009. Later, it was announced that Barbie and The Three Musketeers would be released in Fall 2009 instead, with no new release date or extra information announced for Barbie as the Sleeping Beauty. Mattel is currently quiet about this to avoid the trademark controversy.