The film will chronicle the life of Handler as she founded Mattel in 1945 and created the now-iconic Barbie doll, named after her daughter Barbara, in 1959. Handler was one of the first women to run a Fortune 500 company. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1970 and died in 2002.
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“The world should know about the phenomenal woman behind the doll,” said Handler’s daughter Barbara and granddaughter Cheryl Segal. “We have chosen to work with Rita Wilson, Cristan Crocker, Andrea Nevins and Bron Studios to bring Ruth’s story to life. Working with them on this project seemed like a perfect fit because we feel that they recognize just how inspiring and empowering Ruth was.”
Oscar-nominated screenwriter Melisa Wallack (“Dallas Buyers Club”) will adapt the script, based on the 1995 memoir “Dream Doll: The Ruth Handler Story.” Aaron L. Gilbert will produce for Bron Studios, with Cristan Crocker and Andrea Nevins producing for Rare Bird Films. Bron’s Anjay Nagpal and Steven Thibault are executive producers and Solome Williams and Jordan Moldo will oversee development.
“Everyone knows the iconic Barbie, which, after more than 60 years, continues to be one of the most globally successful dolls,” Wilson said. “But few know the story of the inspiring, innovative, passionate woman who defied odds to create her. Ruth Handler’s story awes, empowers, and sometimes infuriates. What an honor it is to be part of the team that will bring Ruth’s autobiography to the screen. I am so thankful to the Handler and Segal families for trusting us with this incredible woman’s life.”
Wilson was a producer on the comedy hit “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” after discovering Nia Vardalos’ one-woman play. She obtained the feature rights to “Mamma Mia!” after seeing the ABBA musical and was an executive producer on both “Mamma Mia!” movies, “My Life in Ruins” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.”
Wallack and Craig Borton received an Oscar nomination for 2013’s “Dallas Buyers Club.” Her credits include “Mirror Mirror” and “The Last Witch Hunter.”
Bron’s producing credits include the upcoming Joaquin Phoenix movie “Joker,” “Fences,” “Leave No Trace,” “The Mule,” “Isn’t It Romantic?” and “Tully.”
Rare Bird produced the 2018 documentary “Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie,” which aired on Hulu. The company was the first production team in the doll’s 60-year history to have been given unfettered access to Mattel.