Where Did Princess Barbie Go?

It's been almost three years since the last Barbie movie dropped on Netflix. Since then, it appeared as though she retired from her fairy tale princess days in favor of the Dreamhouse Adventures series, which also premiered on Netflix shortly after Dolphin Magic. This was a big disappointment to those of us who loved Barbie's magical and sometimes musical masterpieces that came out two to three times a year between 2001 and 2017. Seeing Barbie hanging out with her sisters in modern-day Malibu in Dreamhouse Adventures isn't nearly as interesting or exciting as discovering an enchanted realm, saving the world, or switching places with a princess. That's why I was elated to learn that she would release a 72-minute feature this year called Princess Adventure. Is Princess Barbie back?

Barbie discovers what it means to be a modern princess in this full-length, original musical when she switches places with her royal doppelganger. Barbie helps a young monarch find her voice and use her position for social change.
Does that logline sound familiar? It should. This would be the third time that Barbie releases a movie with that exact same plot. The first time was in 2004 with The Princess and the Pauper, the greatest Barbie movie ever made (fight me). Eight years later, they tried to modernize the story with The Princess and the Popstar, which recycled some of the concepts but also introduced contemporary technology such as tablets and smartphones into the mix. The upcoming Princess Adventure appears to take that a step further with Barbie and her friends dressing up in modern fashion and exploring the theme that was popularized in the latest Aladdin remake of princesses using their power for good and becoming great leaders. It is possible that we will hear a new remix of "To Be a Princess" among the movie's six songs, but we will likely get several original hits as well since the poster features Barbie's new plus-sized bff Daisy rocking her DJ headphones.

Though Princess Adventure is slated for this year, there has been no trailer or release date, or really any other identifying information outside of a dual poster coupled with an ad for a new Thomas the Tank Engine special. Some fans speculate that Princess Adventure might by the first full-length Dreamhouse Adventures special instead of a standalone movie like the others. For me, that would be a little disappointing because it would force the film to stay grounded in a more realistic world as opposed to the incredible places that Barbie's movies have taken us in the past such as Fairytopia, Gloss Angeles, and Oceana. If it does take place in the same continuity as Dreamhouse Adventures, I would question why Barbie's sisters don't appear in the poster, especially after she has been in several movies with them unless they will be used as a framing device like Kelly was in The Nutcracker. Barbie tells us that we can be anything, so I would love to see an unlimited scope for this new adventure outside of the confines of the Dreamhouse.

Through the dearth of information about the movie, there have been some leaks of dolls that will accompany it. Barbie and her friends look very modern in their t-shirts and chiffon skirts featuring cursive words of inspiration like "Dream" and "Believe." Ken seems a bit out of place with a huge crown, formal jacket, and jeans. While this style does match my personal fashion as a casual princess in a modern world, there is a jarring lack of creativity to it. Barbie has always been a huge proponent of playing dress-up, and these dolls seem rather plain in comparison to the elaborate gowns she's worn in her other movies. The fact that the poster and dolls feature Barbie and her peers Daisy, Nikki, and Teresa hearkens back to her other girl-power team-up films such as The Three Musketeers, Princess Charm School, and Spy Squad. The question remains as to when we will see these girls in action. Did the coronavirus scare them off?

A lot of sources claim that the movie is scheduled for early 2020, but the lack of a release date when we are already a quarter of the way into the year says otherwise. I'm not sure if they're going through distribution or marketing delays, but I do know that I would like to see this movie sooner rather than later. We can all use more princesses in our lives during these tough times and are long overdue for a new Barbie movie. I'm not sure if the rise of streaming services lead to the halt in production, but it seems like Mattel chose Netflix as Barbie's new home now that DVDs have dropped in popularity. It's also probably cheaper to produce simple Dreamhouse Adventure episodes with minimal sets than feature-length movies with original songs and settings. Therefore, I'm glad they're willing to put in the extra effort for one more princess adventure.

Comments

PrincessContent said…
From the poster and the dolls, to me it seems like Barbie and her friends are playing some sort of royalty dress up.

I think we have this kind of “eat and have the cake” situation.
Mattel brings in the princess concept for the nostalgia but they still want to keep Barbie grounded in the "new" image - that she’s a normal girl that’s just like “you” but still a bit magical.
I really can see why Mattel keeps going back to “The Prince and The Pauper”. They can have Barbie be a princess but not a real princess since they want her to be more relatable to “normal” girls.

If this is the case, it makes me bit sad since Mattel already had “eat/have the cake” concept in the early Barbie movies. They started with normal Barbie telling Shelly a story and then in that story we got our princess portrayed by Barbie.
I really like that set up and I wish Mattel would go back to that. I miss “classic” princess Barbie.

Stay safe!
jem said…
I miss the old Barbie so much 😢
Anonymous said…
Me too Jem!
Hope35 said…
I'm starting to wonder if COVID 19 somehow delayed this movie's release too. I think channels like Netflix are starting to realize that movie theaters aren't likely to start getting their footing back until sometime next year at the earliest so they're saving various movies to treat them like important replacements for families unwilling or unable to take their young children to movie theaters, pushing them from spring & summer releases to the slightly more lucrative fall & winter.

It seems strange given this movie doesn't seem to be a winter season (or even fall season) holiday type story but I wouldn't be shocked if Netflix etc. hold off on it's release until September or later. If they really want to use this movie to help parents fill Santa's sleigh with their products it might even be released no earlier than November.
Unknown said…
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Unknown said…
Barbie game is interesting and wonderful colour and love it this game
So I know this article is from many years ago, but given how much the world of Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures still influences the animated media and YouTube content for the character to this day, I figure I should throw my hat into the ring and talk about why I think the world of the series is still around to this day. This is going to get quite lengthy, so this will be in multiple posts since I can't post everything at once.

1. Let's start with this article that came out in late 2016, which talks about various Barbie projects coming out. One of the announced projects is Barbie: Dolphin Magic, which is said to compliment both Barbie: Dreamtopia and Barbie: Dreamhouse Adventures. However, it ended being the pilot movie to Dreamhouse Adventures. Watching the movie and the show, the general tone and the character dynamics are pretty much the same. Everything surrounding Isla doesn't really get brought up due to the more grounded nature of the show, but it can just be seen as an adventure that only they know about. It's pretty fitting due to how the movie was directed by Conrad Helten. He is a Barbie veteran overall, but he's considered one of the main players of the Dreamhouse Adventures franchise since he's the only director to have directed movies beforehand. He would later direct Barbie: Princess Adventure and Barbie: Epic Road Trip, which very much is meant to be for hardcore Dreamhouse Adventures fans, but we'll elaborate on that later.

2. I would like to show a recent interview that Teale Sperling, who's part of the management of content creation at Mattel Television. She's mainly worked on the Barbie vlogs. At around 18:30, she talks about why the image of Barbie as a normal girl has been pushed quite a bit. It's part of the evolution from Mattel to give her more of a defined character. She's been in various movies playing certain characters, yet she's never had a defined character. My guess is that in order for her to have the image of a normal girl, higher ups at Mattel probably wanted to use all future animated media to be seen as adventures of this specific version of Barbie.
3. Now I want to talk about Ann Austen, who's been working with the Barbie franchise for many years. She worked on the vlogs and was a writer and creative producer for Barbie: Dreamtopia. She would later be showrunner for Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures, being a creative producer in season 1 before later being promoted to co-executive producer and head writer in season 2. She would retain co-executive producer and major writing credits on most of the movies that came out after the show ended. She's writer and co-executive producer for Barbie: Princess Adventure, co-writer and co-executive producer on Barbie And Chelsea: The Lost Birthday, main writer and co-executive producer for Barbie: Mermaid Power, lead writer and co-executive producer for Barbie: Epic Road Trip, and co-executive producer for the upcoming movie Barbie: Skipper And The Big Babysitting Adventure (that movie is written by Dreamhouse Adventures writer Daniel Bryan Franklin). All of these movies follow closely the template she established in Barbie: Dreamhouse Adventures regardless of the situations the characters are in. As such, if there's a movie that has her as co-executive producer, it'll most likely take most of its cues from Dreamhouse Adventures. There's an interesting interview she took part in about being inclusive, with the Barbie part starting at around 7:35. At 8:30, she mentions how the series is there to help make Barbie's world feel more inclusive, with elements of this being reflected in the movies she would work on. She's the only Barbie movie writer to always get some kind of producer credit.
4. The final person I want to talk about is Christopher Keenan, one of the executive producers for Mattel Television since the mid 2010s. Long before his work at Mattel, he previously worked at Warner Brothers Animation as part of development and creative supervision from the early 1990s up until the mid 2000s. He would work on many shows and movies, including What's New Scooby Doo and the DCAU shows (Batman: The Animated Series, Superman The Animated Series, Static Shock, Justice League, and more). I found this fan article that speculates that he's using what he learned at Warner Brothers Animation and is applying them to Barbie, mainly the idea of the shows and movies all taking place in the same world as each other. It's similar to the DCAU in that regard. It's also similar to What's New Scooby Doo in how most of the 2000s movies were developed by some of the major crew members of that series, much like Ann Austen with the Barbie movies later on.

This can somewhat backfire though, as shown with the Barbie: Big City, Big Dreams movie and the Barbie: It Takes Two series. Even though both projects are generally well received, since Ann Austen did not work on them, they don't really gel well with the tone of Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures. For the former, he wrote the movie with freelance Kate Splaine, who has never worked on anything other projects, Barbie or otherwise. As such, Malibu Barbie is much more impulsive and less on her A Game. This carries over to the It Takes Two series that was developed by Marsha Griffin. While she worked on Barbie movies, those came out in 2015-2016, and she hasn't done anything in the Dreamhouse Adventures world. The Mermaid Power and Epic Road Trip movies are more well received, but they have the opposite problem. Nobody from It Takes Two worked on the Epic Road Trip movie, with Ann Austen, Aury Wallington, and Conrad Helten spearheading this project, and none of them worked on that series. As such, they ignore 2 of the big cliffhangers from that series (stuff with Otto Phoenix and Bertram Livsey) since they didn't know about those plot points, with only the Barbie/Ken relationship getting brought up since that originated in Dreamhouse Adventures. On top of that, Epic Road Trip is an interactive movie, meaning people don't know if it's canon or not (notably, viewers can choose if Barbie and Ken get together or not).

Epic Road Trip also has a lot of callbacks to episodes of Dreamhouse Adventures and some of the movies, which seems to mean that future movies will be more continuity heavy. I mean, Skipper And The Big Babysitting Adventure uses the Ocean's Extreme Water Park, the character of Tammy Bounceaway, and Skipper's friends Chantal and Navya, who all appeared in Dreamhouse Adventures. That's probably an indicator that the movies will be more for Dreamhouse Adventures fans in the future.

https://www.awn.com/news/mattel-announces-two-new-animated-barbie-series-tv-special

https://youtu.be/6b_XgtMg7Jk

https://barbiemovies.fandom.com/f/p/4400000000000029885

https://youtu.be/H_le2oc_GTI

And that's all I have to say. I hope you got all my comments.

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