Entrepreneur Barbie Margot Robbie riding high as Aussie star inks deal with major studio

Margot Robbie hits the Golden Globes red carpet

Australian actor Margot Robbie continues to ride on the success of starring in and producing billion-dollar box office hit Barbie after officially inking a deal with the Hollywood studio that backed her film.

Her production company, LuckyChap Entertainment, and its co-founders husband Tom Ackerley and Josey McNamara this week signed a “multi-year, first-look feature film deal” with Warner Bros.

Keen to build on the studio’s film slate, the bosses said they were on a mission to “invest and commit to working with the greatest partners in front of, and behind the camera”, Variety wrote.

And who better than Robbie, whose feature role as stereotypical Barbie in the existential musical comedy was the highest-grossing film of last year.

Six years in the making, Robbie was also a key player behind the scenes in getting the film made.

In a chat with The Hollywood Reporter, Robbie was asked how she and director and writer Greta Gerwig convinced a boardroom full of men from Warner Bros. and Mattel (which owns the brand) to make the movie.

“One of the biggest fights was convincing everyone that it could be a four-quadrant movie [appealing to all demographics] because it had a budget that necessitated it being a four-quadrant movie. And that means getting men to go see it,” she told the group including Annette Bening, Emma Stone, Carey Mulligan, Greta Lee and Lily Gladstone.

“When you’re trying to get a project up and running … it’s like you’re in selling mode. I was pitching it.

“I was like, “When you pair Spielberg with dinosaurs, what do you get? A billion dollars. When you pair Greta and Barbie, you are going to make a billion dollars.

“I think as a producer, you’ve got to make your choices and then you back that choice. I will bleed myself out before I tell a director they can’t have something they need.”

She promised the Warner Bros Motion Picture Group a billion dollars in revenue.

Barbie generated $US1.45 billion in global box office receipts.

I Tonya grossed $53 million worldwide on an $11 million budget. Photo: Twitter

From ‘scratchy upstart’ to entertainment ‘empire’

Robbie is part of a wave of Australian female Hollywood actors who are producing, including Nicole Kidman’s Blossom Films (Nine Perfect Strangers, Expats), Cate Blanchett’s Dirty Films and Naomi Watts.

LuckyChap’s first project to hit the big screen was I, Tonya, in 2017, an Oscar-winning film starring Robbie as Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding.

TV series Dollface (2019) followed, then Birds of Prey and Promising Young Woman in 2020.

Flinders University’s Dr Claire Whitley tells The New Daily Robbie has “intelligently traded on her star power to get projects across the line”.

“Throughout the lead-up to awards season, she has consistently positioned herself as a producer [rather than lead actor], which is very telling in regards to where she sees the most career longevity and the most fulfilment.

“In Hollywood, popularity is measured by profits and increasingly by clicks and ‘minutes watched’. Because of this, Robbie is one of the most successful producers operating at the moment.”

Instead of comparing her to Tom Cruise – and his pivot to producing the Top Gun and Mission Impossible franchises, “I think it’s more apt to think of her as a next-generation Reese Witherspoon. … [who] was a trailblazer as an actress who turned to producing enormously successful series and films”.

Tom Ackerley, Margot Robbie and Josey McNamara celebrate LuckyChap’s new partnership with a key to the studio. Photo: Getty

This year LuckyChap’s backing of Saltburn paid off with critical acclaim, social media hype around bathtub and graveyard scenes, and making household names of Australian Jacob Elordi and Irishman Barry Keoghan.

The film has so far grossed $US20 million.

LuckyChap’s mantra is “to fight for projects and filmmakers we believe in” and Variety says the company is no longer seen as a “scrappy upstart”, but a fully fledged “entertainment empire”.

“Why can’t it be another big, original, bold idea where we get an amazing filmmaker, a big budget to play with, and the trust of a huge conglomerate behind them to go and really play?” asks Robbie.

“I want to do that.”

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