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ASU students pick the top five Barbie movies

We asked several ASU students what their favorite animated Barbie movies were in anticipation for the live-action Barbie film


"I grew up watching these movies on an old CRT television and a thrifted DVD player as they were released with all the joy a little wannabe princess ... could have."

The upcoming live-action "Barbie" movie, directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Margot Robbie in the titular role is, in fact, not the 64-year-old toy franchise’s screen debut. 

To a large segment of the Generation Z population, the doll is a full-blown meta-movie star.

In the early 2000s, the Mattel toy company partnered with Mainframe Studios, a direct-to-video entertainment company, to produce a series of computer-animated films featuring the Barbie doll as herself, or the main character in a fairytale based on the doll’s design.

The series — which began with "Barbie in The Nutcracker" in 2001— is now full of cult classics; formative to a whole generation of kids and teens growing up in the aughts. In March, the 42nd Barbie film was released. 

With the release of the highly anticipated live-action "Barbie" film coming to theaters this July, we asked 34 ASU students what their favorite Barbie movie was, with a survey to rank their top three favorites. Here’s what we found! 

5. Barbie Mariposa & the Fairy Princess

Coming in fifth place was the 2013 "Barbie Mariposa & the Fairy Princess" with 2.8% of voters picking this film as their first choice. The fun, whimsical story about a butterfly kingdom was a spin-off of the original 2008 "Barbie: Mariposa" film.

4. Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses

"Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses" was the fourth most popular student choice, with 8% of voters picking this 2006 classic as their first choice. A spin on the classic childhood story "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," it’s no wonder that this charming retelling ended up in the top five of favorite Barbie movies for ASU students. 

"I watched 'Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses' a lot with my sisters when I was younger," said Ally Nguyen,  a freshman studying psychology. "It's sort of become a comfort movie for me."

3. Barbie & the Diamond Castle

"Barbie & the Diamond Castle" also got a lot of student love, with 14.3% of students picking it as their first-choice movie and 8.6% as their second-favorite film. The 2008 film draws tropes from the mystery genre, featuring Barbie as princess Liana and the Mattel doll Teresa as princess Alexa, got 12.3% of all total votes.

"'Barbie & the Diamond Castle' was my favorite Barbie movie when I was really little," said Brianna Le, a freshman student studying kinesiology. "I loved how they showed friendship between Liana and Alexa. Also, I just loved their dresses."

2. Barbie Fairytopia: Mermaidia 

"Barbie Fairytopia: Mermaidia" was the second most popular choice, with 14.3% picking the 2006 movie as their first choice and another 14.3% of students picking this as their second choice. The fun, underwater-based sequel to "Barbie Fairytopia" was significantly more popular with students than it's predecessor, with an impressive 15.7% of total votes.

"I grew up near an old Blockbuster store," said Eden Prieve, a senior studying filmmaking practices, and treasurer of Women in Film at ASU. "I rented the animated Barbie DVDs and watched almost every single one, it’s really hard to rank them but Mermaidia was always one of my favorites."

1. Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper  

Last, but certainly not least, "Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper" ranked as the most popular Barbie film among ASU students, with 22% of the total votes going toward this film. 

Princess and the Pauper is an opposites attract friendship story, a trope adored by many, and recently saw a resurgence in popularity when its featured song "I Am A Girl Like You" resurfaced on TikTok as a popular audio clip.  

"'Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper' is my favorite for a few reasons," said Molly Streppa,  a senior studying art education, in an email. "The soundtrack is fantastic. The message of the movie is very meaningful. And, of course, who doesn't love a lighthearted musical that ends in a double wedding?"

Some other popular choices that didn't make the top five include "Barbie in the Nutcracker," "Barbie of Swan Lake," and "Barbie and the Three Musketeers," the latter two of which tied in a number of votes. Some Barbie films were not even contenders — "The Barbie Diaries," for instance, got no votes at all. 

However, the thing all students shared in common, regardless of their favorite movie, was the shared impact the 2000s animated Barbie films had on their childhood.

"2001-2009 was the Golden Era of Barbie Direct to DVD films," Streppa said. "I grew up watching these movies on an old CRT television and a thrifted DVD player as they were released with all the joy a little wannabe princess ... could have."

Edited by Claire van Doren, Jasmine Kabiri and Caera Learmonth

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