What Category Does ‘Barbie’ Belong in? Here’s What the Oscars Said.

Jaap Buitendijk/Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures
Ryan Gosling as Ken and Margot Robbie as Barbie the summer blockbuster, “Barbie.”

Say goodbye to Original Screenplay Barbie.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has determined that the script for last summer’s blockbuster “Barbie” will be considered an adapted screenplay for this year’s Oscars voting, which begins on Thursday, Jan. 11.

The Writers Branch executive committee made this decision because “Barbie” is based on existing characters and intellectual property, and because the film’s legal billing credits Mattel, according to the Academy.

Warner Bros. reportedly campaigned for the movie’s script, written by Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, to be considered an original screenplay at the Oscars.

“Barbie,” which earned more than $1.4 billion at the box office, tells the story of Stereotypical Barbie (Margot Robbie) who travels from the Barbie Land to the real world and faces a number of existential crises, while also contending the rise of Kens (led by Ryan Gosling). Though the film is not based on any one particular Barbie-based book or movie (there are a slew of DVDs and TV shows about the doll), it is based off a consumer product and intellectual property.

Many “Barbie” fans on social media questioned why the Academy would deem it as an adapted screenplay since it’s not based on a specific project. According to Variety, several scripts with preexisting characters end up being deemed as adapted screenplays, such as “Toy Story 3” and “Borat 2” (which are both sequels based off original screenplays, featuring characters that had appeared in other projects). The film’s credits included text that read “based on ‘Barbie’ by Mattel.”

It’s unclear if “Barbie” will receive the same designation by other upcoming award shows since different voting groups and associations have their own rules for voting. The Writers Guild of America, which did not respond to a request for comment, could designate the film as having an original screenplay for its WGA Awards, as could the British Film Academy Awards, which will announce their nominations in January. The Critics Choice Awards nominated “Barbie” for best original screenplay, while it is nominated for best screenplay in a motion picture at the Golden Globes, which take place on Sunday.

Regardless of its designation, the script has been widely publicized and celebrated. It’s available for purchase in a 138-page book called “Barbie: The Screenplay” published by Faber & Faber, which includes color photos from the film and an introduction from Gerwig and Baumbach.

In April 2023, Robbie said she was originally unsure if the studio would make the film based on the screenplay.

“The first time I read the ‘Barbie’ script, my reaction was, ‘Ah! This is so good. What a shame it will never see the light of day,” she told BAFTA. “Because they are never going to let us make this movie. But they did.”