Barbie | 2023
The main location? Hertfordshire in southeast England.
Barbieland and interiors were filmed in the Leavesden Studios, north of Watford in Hertfordshire. Once an aircraft factory called Leavesden Aerodrome, the disused complex was used as a makeshift studio and backlot for the filming of Bond movie GoldenEye in 1994, when the series' usual base at Pinewood Studios was temporarily unavailable.
This worked out so well that the facility was developed into a full-time studio becoming home to all the Harry Potter movies .Leavesden Studio was bought by Warner Bros and now houses the popular Harry Potter WB Studios Tour.
Undergoing an existential crisis, Barbie is anxious to trace the source of her anxiety.
She pops up at – where else? – Venice Beach, where she rollerblades with Ken on Windward Plaza, 1 Windward Avenue, with the Police Substation in the background, until they realise they're attracting unwanted attention.
Would those day-go outfits really cause heads to turn on that famously daffy Boardwalk? Or simply spark an Eighties Retro revival?
They get themselves cool new Western outfits – and are shocked to discover that in this real world you need money – at the very real Lucky Venice Store, only a few yards away from the Plaza on Windward Avenue just west of Speedway. The official address is 1501 Ocean Front Walk, though that applies to that whole strip of shops along Windward.
Despite her crisis, Barbie is still blessed with eternal sunshine. When I visited, I didn't, as you can see from my photos.
Grey skies in Venice in September? Seriously?
The magic of movie locations.
When Barbie and Ken stray a little further north to Santa Monica, they find themselves being arrested.
The jail in which they're briefly held is the beautiful 1939 art deco Santa Monica City Hall, 1685 Main Street, Santa Monica. On screen this looks pretty similar to the old Venice Police and Fire Station, famous from John Carpenter's Assault On Precinct 13. In fact, that's what I assumed it was at first glance.
As Ken slopes off to explore the new world, Barbie sits at the bus-stop alongside nearby Tongva Park, 1615 Ocean Avenue, before going in search of her human girl counterpart.
The glass and steel building, in front of which Ken realises the real world is patriarchal, is the entrance to the Creative Artists Agency Building, 2000 Avenue of the Stars in Century City.
The Century City complex, southwest of Beverly Hills, occupies what used to be the old 20th Century-Fox backlot and still sees its share of movie action – you might recognise it from Inception, Star Trek Into Darkness or even 2011's The Green Hornet (you’ll also find the tower of ’Nakatomi Plaza’ from Die Hard nearby).
She finds Sasha (Ariana Greenblatt) at 'Davy Crockett Junior High School', which in truth is Paul Revere Middle School, 1450 Allenford Avenue, not too far north from Santa Monica. As ever, when it comes to schools, please respect privacy and if you really want to take a photo, do it outside school hours.
Needing to visit the HQ of Mattel toys, which launched the range of Barbie dolls, sees her venture from Venice into Downtown Los Angeles.
The toy company offices are the Bank of America Building, 333 South Hope Street at West 3rd Street and, yes, that abstract red sculpture, called Four Arches, on the plaza is real.
Once all is resolved, Barbie returns to the real world and makes a visit to – no spoilers – the white-pillared building at 100 Wilshire Boulevard on the junction of Ocean Avenue, back in Santa Monica.