‘Barbie’ Filmmakers Say Greta Gerwig’s Movie Used So Much Pink, It Caused an ‘International Run’ on Specialty Paint

The goal was to create ‘authentic artificiality’ in the toy-inspired land

Barbie Margot Robbie
Margot Robbie in "Barbie" (Credit: Warner Bros.)

Everything on the “Barbie” set had to be a just-right shade of pink, a demand that caused a run on the cotton candy-colored paint, the filmmakers said in an interview with Architectural Digest.

Production designer Sarah Greenwood told the magazine the set caused an “international run” on the fluorescent shade by Rosco, which sells cans of paint specifically for stage and production design at around $150 per gallon.

“The world,” Greenwood joked, “ran out of pink.” 

“Maintaining the ‘kid-ness’ was paramount,” director Greta Gerwig said in describing the inspiration for the highly-anticipated live action film debuting July 21. “I wanted the pinks to be very bright, and everything to be almost too much.”

The director said she didn’t want to “forget what made me love Barbie when I was a little girl.”

Built at Warner Bros. Studios outside of London, the set was the brainchild of production designer Sarah Greenwood and set decorator Katie Spencer, who looked to the mid-century modern architecture of California’s Palm Springs and combined it with various iterations of the doll’s Dreamhouse over the years to create their fuschia fantasyland.

Greenwood said she strove “to make Barbie real through this unreal world.”

“We were literally creating the alternate universe of Barbie Land,” said Gerwig, who aimed for “authentic artificiality” wherever they could create it.

That’s why they used a hand-painted backdrop rather than CGI to capture the sky and the San Jacinto Mountains. “Everything needed to be tactile, because toys are, above all, things you touch.”

The toy theme appears throughout, including touches like Barbie’s walk-in closet on the second floor featuring toy-box display cases pinned with outfits – and a lack of walls throughout.

Because the toy townhouse itself has odd dimensions, the three-story version on the set is also skewed. “The scale was quite strange,” Spencer said, explaining that they had to adjust its rooms proportions to 23% smaller than human size for the set.

Gerwig added: “The ceiling is actually quite close to one’s head, and it only takes a few paces to cross the room. It has the odd effect of making the actors seem big in the space but small overall.”

The slide that snakes its way to a kidney-shaped pool from the top floor is definitely big enough to carry Margot Robbie‘s title character down for a swim.

“I wanted to capture what was so ridiculously fun about the Dreamhouses,” Gerwig said. “Why walk down stairs when you can slide into your pool? Why trudge up stairs when you take an elevator that matches your dress?”

The “Barbie” trailer, released in late May, depicts a story that sees Robbie’s character cross over to the real world accompanied by a doofy Ken played by Ryan Gosling.

Gerwig previously said she saw the movie as akin to an Old Hollywood musical, with the painted sky backdrop and a “tangibility of the artifice.” Gerwig co-wrote “Barbie” with Noah Baumbach.