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Did the 'Barbie' movie really cause a run on pink paint? Let's get the full picture

Margot Robbie stars in the live-action <em>Barbie</em> movie, whose production reportedly required jaw-dropping amounts of pink paint.
Warner Bros. Entertainment
Margot Robbie stars in the live-action Barbie movie, whose production reportedly required jaw-dropping amounts of pink paint.

As any Barbie fan knows, life in plastic is fantastic — and also very pink.

So much so, in fact, that the makers of the highly anticipated live-action movie say they wiped out a company's entire global supply of one shade of it.

"The world ran out of pink," production designer Sarah Greenwood told Architectural Digest early last week.

She said construction of the expansive, rosy-hued Barbieland — at Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden, England — had caused an international run on the fluorescent shade of Rosco paint.

Rosco is known for supplying the entertainment industry with products like scenic paints, color filters and other equipment, including certain tints specifically formulated for the screen.

And it's now painting a fuller picture of Greenwood's comments.

Lauren Proud, Rosco's vice president of global marketing, told the Los Angeles Times on Friday that "they used as much paint as we had" — but that it was in short supply to begin with during the movie's production in 2022.

The company was still dealing with pandemic-related supply chain issues and recovering from the 2021 Texas freeze that damaged crucial raw materials, she said.

The freeze affected millions of gallons of stockpile, as well as the equipment needed to replenish it, Henry Cowen, national sales manager for Rosco's Live Entertainment division, said in a 2022 interview with the Guild of Scenic Artists.

Even so, Proud, the company vice president, said Rosco did its best to deliver.

"There was this shortage, and then we gave them everything we could — I don't know they can claim credit," Proud said, before acknowledging: "They did clean us out on paint."

And there's no question about where it all went.

The main movie trailer reveals a larger-than-life version of Barbie's iconic three-story Dreamhouse (complete with a walk-in closet and kidney-shaped pool with a swirly slide), her Corvette convertible and a utopian beach town of cul-de-sacs and storefronts — all bright pink.

Director Greta Gerwig aimed for "authentic artificiality" on all aspects of the set, telling Architectural Digest that "maintaining the 'kid-ness' was paramount."

"I wanted the pinks to be very bright, and everything to be almost too much," she said.

Viewers will soon be able to see for themselves, when the movie — which is marketed to Barbie lovers and haters alike — hits theaters on July 21.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.