“The World Ran Out of Pink”: ‘Barbie’ Led to International Shortage of the Bright, Girlie Hue


If you’ve opened a social media app any time recently, you are well aware that this is the summer of Barbie. The memes—and there have been many—jump out not just because we love the performers and because the Mattel-owned IP grips tightly to our collective nostalgia. It is also (primarily?) due to the fact that film is a visual medium and the movie looks, in every use of that word, amazing. 

At CinemaCon in Las Vegas this past April, Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling gushed not just about the film they’d made with Greta Gerwig, but the physical set that was born from Gerwig and Noah Baumbach’s script. Robbie explained how Teamsters and crew members working elsewhere on the studio lot would figure out ways to visit, just to get that dopamine fix. 

Thanks to an interview in Architectural Digest with Gerwig and her production designer Sarah Greenwood and set decorator Katie Spencer, we now know that creating a real-life Barbie Dreamhouse and its environs came with a cost. Pink was paramount, but once the team settled on a specific kind of pink, it was the only shade that would do. As such, construction on the film led to an international shortage of Rosco brand fluorescent pink. “The world ran out of pink,” Greenwood told the magazine with a laugh.

Rosco, a Stamford, Connecticut based-company dating back to 1910 with a shelf full of Oscars and Emmys for technological breakthroughs, is the leading entertainment industry manufacturer for various production design needs. That means lighting filters, fog machines, LED displays, projection apparatuses, and when you really get into the nitty-gritty, paint. There’s something in the mix, they’ll tell you, that makes their paint pop on stage and screen better than the sludge we slobs pick up at Home Depot. (One thinks back to the old Monty Python sketch where a movie producer played by Eric Idle is overseeing the development of fake snow, which, on film, looks more like snow than snow.) 


So there you have it. The Barbie trailer boasts that it’s a movie for everyone who loves Barbie, and everyone who hates Barbie, too. But we found the one group of people for whom the movie will never fly—producers of films, plays, and photoshoots that wanted some dazzling electric pink for those few clutch weeks but couldn’t find any, because Gerwig and company hogged it all. 

Barbie is out in theaters on July 21, 2023—the same day as Christopher Nolan‘s R-rated, 3-hour epic Oppenheimer, the IMAX prints of which weigh 600 pounds and roll out to 11 miles—thus making this double-whammy the greatest day in cinema since that train rolled into La Ciotat

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