Billionaire Barbie? Greta Gerwig becomes a household name

Director Greta Gerwig attends the European premiere of "Barbie" in London, Britain July 12, 2023. Photo by REUTERS/Maja Smiejkowska.

Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” movie has grossed more than $1 billion at the global box office, making her the only woman director to achieve this on her own — without a male co-director. 

Kim Masters, host of KCRW’s The Business, says Mattel was shrewd in handing the film to Gerwig. Prior to “Barbie,” Gerwig directed quirky and popular titles such as “Lady Bird” and “Little Women” but had never helmed a big summer blockbuster. 

“Some people may have never heard of her before this, and now she's … on her way to becoming a household name, if she's not already there.”

Gerwig’s success may give other women filmmakers a leg-up, as Mattel plans to create a Polly Pocket film that involves Lena Dunham as the writer-director and Lily Collins as the star. 

Masters points out that amid the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, the film/TV business is going through a rapid transformation. “Everybody jumped in on streaming. Now there are a lot of them waking up with a bad hangover. Only Netflix has said that they can make money on streaming at this point. Everybody else is losing so much money. It's breathtaking.”

She adds, “The question for Hollywood is: Is there a model where you can make money? You've killed off the old system of having movies in theaters — they’re trying to bring that back, obviously. But the whole waterfall of money that a movie used to be able to make — doesn't work in streaming. … It's a really fraught time.” 

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  • Kim Masters - editor-at-large of The Hollywood Reporter, and host of KCRW's “The Business.” - @kimmasters