‘Barbie’ Set Construction Caused an International Paint Shortage, Says Production Designer: ‘The World Ran Out of Pink’

With a few mystifying teasers and less than two months until the premiere of the live-action “Barbie” film, audiences still don’t know exactly how the film will unfold. But the production team has started to reveal insight into the film — including how they caused an international pink paint shortage.

In a recent Architectural Digest profile with production designer Sarah Greenwood, set decorator Katie Spencer and director Greta Gerwig, the group explain that they set out “to capture what was so ridiculously fun” about Barbie’s world, but especially that of Architectural Digest’s subject: Barbie’s Dreamhouse.

“I wanted the pinks to be very bright, and everything to be almost too much,” Gerwig stated. She shared that “the ‘kid-ness’ was paramount” — evoking the feeling of never forgetting “what made [her] love Barbie” as a young girl.

“Why walk down stairs when you can slide into your pool? Why trudge up stairs when you take an elevator that matches your dress?” said Gerwig.

To achieve that whimsy, Barbie’s world needed to become just that — Barbie’s world. The only way the production team believed they could achieve the task was to create a world of pink props, sets, clothes and anything that was placed within the film’s frame.

That’s when Greenwood knew she needed to obtain that signature shade from the company Rosco until there was nothing left. “The world ran out of pink,” said the production designer.

Before running Rosco out of pink paint, Greenwood, Gerwig and the team built a set on the Warner Bros. lot in London, pulling inspiration from the Palm Springs’ Kaufmann House, San Francisco Queen Anne Victorian manse, Wayne Thiebaud’s paintings, as well as film history’s “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” and Gene Kelly’s “An American in Paris.”

Soon after the conversation with Gerwig, Spencer and Greenwood, the Los Angeles Times inquired about the shortage and turned to, Lauren Proud, VP of global marketing at Rosco, who confirmed, “They did clean us out on paint.”

“There was this shortage,” Proud added, “and then we gave them everything we could.”

Fans will be able to immerse themselves in Barbie’s pink world on July 21.

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