Warner Bros. Issues Statement on Barbie Map Controversy

The upcoming Barbie movie has found itself in some uncharted controversy.

Warner Bros. Discovery’s new film — based on Mattel’s iconic toy line — has been banned in Vietnam over the appearance of a controversial map. According to the distributor, however, the film was not trying to make any statement.

At the root of the Barbie map controversy is the fact that — in certain trailers for the film — a hand-drawn map could be seen. Many believe this map depicts a representation of the “nine-dash line.” The “nine-dash line” refers to a set of line segments on maps meant to indicate China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. Vietnam disputes these claims, however, and believes it violates the sovereignty of the country.

In a statement regarding the issue, a spokesperson for the Warner Bros. Film Group told Variety that the map found in the film is simply a doodle, and not meant to represent any sort of real-world scenario.

“The map in Barbie Land is a child-like crayon drawing,” a spokesperson for the Warner Bros. Film Group said. “The doodles depict Barbie’s make-believe journey from Barbie Land to the ‘real world.’ It was not intended to make any type of statement.”

The map in question is a plot point in the film, as Margot Robbie’s Barbie refers to it on her adventure. While it’s unclear if the dashes were politically motivated, Warner Bros. Discovery remains adamant the situation is a misunderstanding.

What is Barbie about?

“To live in Barbie Land is to be a perfect being in a perfect place. Unless you have a full-on existential crisis. Or you’re a Ken,” reads the synopsis.

Barbie is directed by Oscar nominee filmmaker Greta Gerwig from a screenplay she co-wrote with Noah Baumbach. Joining Robbie are Ryan Gosling, America Ferrera, Simu Liu, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Scott Evans, Kate McKinnon, Ariana Greenblatt, Alexandra Shipp, Emma Mackey, Issa Rae, Michael Cera, Hari Nef, Will Ferrell, Helen Mirren, Dua Lipa and more.

The film is produced by Robbie and Tom Ackerly for LuckyChap and Mattel Films’ Robbie Brenner, along with Josey McNamara and Ynon Kreiz. This marks Robbie’s latest collaboration with Warner Bros. Pictures after starring as fan-favorite anti-hero Harley Quinn in 2016’s Suicide Squad, 2020’s Birds of Prey, and 2021’s The Suicide Squad.