The production needs of making the “Barbie” movie required so much pink paint that it led to a worldwide shortage.
That’s the claim coming from the film’s production designer, Sarah Greenwood, who spoke with Architectural Digest about how “Barbie” caused an international dearth of a particular hue of paint.
Speaking with AD about the production design of the film, which required creating a full-sized version of Barbie’s Dream House in a London soundstage, director Greta Gerwig explained why pink is such a key colour in the film.
“Maintaining the ‘kid-ness’ was paramount,” Gerwig told the magazine.
“I wanted the pinks to be very bright, and everything to be almost too much,” she added, insisting she didn’t want to “forget what made me love Barbie when I was a little girl.”
Rather than use CGI, Gerwig wanted a very specific environment for her characters, and had designers create a hand-painted backdrop. “Everything needed to be tactile, because toys are, above all, things you touch,” she explained.
“We were literally creating the alternate universe of Barbie Land,” said Gerwig of the “authentic artificiality” she wanted to depict onscreen.
Creating this look required a lot of a particular fluorescent shade of pink paint; so much so, noted Greenwood, that it led to a scarcity all over the world.
“The world ran out of pink,” she said with a laugh.
Speaking with IndieWire last year, Greenwood detailed the extreme efforts she undertook to find just the right shade of pink.
“Pink became the film’s thesis,” Greenwood said.
“It was epic dealing with the painters, mixing the right colours,” she added. “When we got to our palette we had over a hundred pinks, ranging from the purpley pinks right through to the fleshy millennial pinks. We hit the sweet spot in the middle, which is about 10 pinks.”
As Greenwood explained, they’d been utilizing Rosco paint when experimenting to find the ideal hue. When they finally determined just the right shade, however, a problem arose.
“When it came time to order, they didn’t have enough pigment! Everybody was scrambling around trying to find more. I’m sure the producers were going, ‘This pink looks very much like that pink. What is the problem?’ But we got there in the end,” Greenwood said, noting that pink is a particularly difficult colour to work with on film.
“Pink was a constant fight,” she said. “You think you’ve got your spectrum sorted and then whatever happens behind in the environment changes palette. You put it next to furniture or a fabric and it just flattens out.”