BARBIE Looking To Compete In Best Original Screenplay Oscar Category

Image via Warner Brothers

Ever since it premiered to virtually unanimous positive reviews, there has been speculation as to what kind of Academy Awards push Warner Brothers will give their big summer hit Barbie. Directed by Greta Gerwig, the film brings to life the iconic doll in the form of Margot Robbie and its screenplay, by Gerwig and partner Noah Baumbach, was being touted as conceivably having a good chance in this year’s Oscar race. But the question was in which writing category – Original Screenplay or Adapted Screenplay?

The answer to that question comes to us from Variety, who report that “Warner Bros. has officially confirmed… that the film will be campaigned for this year’s Academy Awards for best original screenplay ” as well as a number of other categories.

But while the news settles some speculation as to which of the two screenplay categories Warner Brothers might conceivably try to entire the Barbie script into, it doesn’t necessarily mean that that particular category is where it could wind up in. The on-screen credit “based on ‘Barbie’ by Mattel,” which appears alongside Gerwig and Baumbach’s names, suggests that it could be a contender for the Adapted Screenplay category since the Academy Awards rules define adaptions as being based on “previously published materials.” So the question becomes “Is the manufacture of a toy the same as publication?”

And while Variety states that Barbie will compete in the Original Screenplay category for the Writers Guild Awards, the Academy is under no obligation to include it in the Original Screenplay category if Warners submits the script for it. The Academy’s Writers Branch, who over see the initial stages of the nomination process for the two screenplay categories, does have the option to reclassify the submission over to the Adapted Screenplay competition if it feels that the script better falls into that group. There is precedence for the Academy to take such an action. In 2016, producers submitted the film Moonlight for consideration in the Original Screenplay category but even though that script had been based on a stage script that was never published, the Writers Branch still moved it over to the Adapted Screenplay category.

No matter which of the the two categories the film is placed into by the Academy, there most likely will be some rumblings of discontent from some Academy members and film fans. The success of Barbie will undoubtedly bring forth a number of classic toy film adaptions and if they come close to matching the quality shown in Barbie, this issue of what is an Original versus Adapted Screenplay could come up again. It would not be surprising to see the Academy’s Writers Branch look at clarifying their rules at some point in the near future.

Avatar für Rich Drees
About Rich Drees 7118 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty-five years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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