Fans nationwide shopped their closets for the rosiest interpretations of the Barbie ethos: sparkly bags, open-toed pumps, stretchy headbands and more.
By Christopher Kuo
Karma Masselli woke up Thursday morning knowing it was a special day. The “Barbie” movie was finally here.
Masselli, 26, and her group of about 25 friends began the festivities by rummaging through their closets for sheer pants and polyester shirts and pink Crocs to assemble their outfits, each representing a different doll: Cowgirl Barbie, Sporty Barbie, Vintage Barbie, Malibu Barbie, Mermaid Barbie and more.
Next was “Barbie brunch” at a friend’s apartment in Brooklyn, featuring an array of pink foods, including pink deviled eggs, pop tarts, pasta salad with beets and pink salsa.
“It felt like it was the Super Bowl at our ‘Barbie brunch,’” Masselli said. “It felt like we were getting together and having a holiday about girliness.”
By afternoon, the group arrived in Manhattan, at the AMC in Kips Bay, to watch the long-awaited film. The screening was delayed for 25 minutes, but once the film started the packed theater erupted in applause. People clapped and cheered and guffawed as the Warner Bros. logo — in pink — appeared onscreen and when Barbie was introduced.
“It was amazing,” Masselli said, emerging from the theater. “I cried.”
Masselli, who wore a hot pink tank top with sparkling pink pants, was one of many New Yorkers who turned out for the opening weekend of “Barbie,” Greta Gerwig’s blockbuster film starring Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken.
Starting Thursday afternoon, at theaters across the country and even overseas, seats were sold out to crowds brimming with color — one color in particular. Some clutched their favorite dolls, while others greeted friends with, “Hi, Barbie,” grinning.
Many fans also chose to see a double feature by watching both “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer,” Christopher Nolan’s biopic about J. Robert Oppenheimer and the making of the atomic bomb. The unlikely pairing of these two smashingly successful films resulted in the movie event of the summer and the biggest box office weekend since 2019.
“You could just feel the excitement, the energy and the joy in the theater,” said Stephen Solomon, 24, who saw “Barbie” at the AMC Lincoln Square on the Upper West Side. “It felt like an event.”
Mary Albus, 28, entered the AMC Kips Bay theater holding a vintage Barbie doll, which she got on her 21st birthday. Albus shares the doll with her group of friends — the “sisterhood of the Traveling Barbie” — passing it around from friend to friend. Vintage Barbie was at one friend’s wedding in North Carolina; she has also been to Chicago, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere.
It just happened that the “Barbie” movie premiered during Albus’s turn with the doll.
“They were like, ‘You have to take her to the Barbie movie,’” Albus said.
May Haaf said seeing the movie with her 9-year-old daughter, Arya, was a bonding event and a way to celebrate female empowerment. Both wore matching white and pink “Barbie” T-shirts.
“It’s like a new generation of movies where women can be individuals and not be married, and you don’t have to settle for anything,” Haaf said.
Other fans who watched the movie also related to the film’s themes of female empowerment.
“The movie especially was a really great commentary on the difficulties of being a woman but also how beautiful it is at the same time and the dichotomy that exists in womanhood,” said Sadie Veach, 23, who was wearing a pink pantsuit and pink eyeliner. Veach’s friend, Taylee Mathis, 25, was wearing a pink shirt and pants and carrying a skateboard. She said she grew up loving Barbie dolls, watching the Barbie animated movies and dressing like Barbie.
“She’s more than just pink,” Mathis said. “With Barbie you can be anybody you want to be.”
Maansi Srivastava contributed reporting.
Christopher Kuo is a culture reporter for The Times and a member of the 2023-24 Times Fellowship class. More about Christopher Kuo
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