After a blockbuster summer at the box office, Barbie is finally streaming — with a very special added feature.
The Greta Gerwig-directed hit became available on Max on Friday, December 15, and fans were pleased to discover an option to view the movie with an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter. According to a press release from Warner Bros., the ASL version of Barbie appears in the app as a unique title with the sign language symbol included in the movie art.
Throughout the movie, ASL interpreter Leila Hanaumi is shown in the lower corner of the screen signing for each character. Hanaumi is an accomplished ASL performer whose other credits include Deaf Austin Theatre’s The Laramie Project and an ASL cover of Tove Lo’s “True Romance” music video.
“By offering sign language interpretation, we will build upon the film’s empowering message of inclusiveness and offer a unique viewing experience for the Deaf community to enjoy with family and friends,” Casey Bloys, HBO and Max chairman and CEO, said in the press release.
Hanaumi announced the collaboration with an Instagram video in which she and Barbie star Margot Robbie sign the film’s catchphrase, “Hi Barbie!” Fans in the comments section gushed over the addition and its impact.
“I’ve seen Barbie a million times and I put it on again just now without realizing it was the ASL version,” one fan wrote. “I immediately started crying because you are so beautiful and what you’re giving to the world is beyond amazing. You’re portraying every character with so much passion and enthusiasm.”
A second viewer added, “You were the perfect ‘ASL Barbie’ for this film, thank you for making our little dreams come true.” Others praised Hanaumi’s commitment to nailing the mannerisms of each character. “Her physical comedy in Barbie was really a stroke of genius,” one fan commented.
The ASL version of Barbie has also made waves on TikTok. “This is amazing, and a great way to learn ASL!!” one user captioned a video of the movie playing on a TV screen. “Barbie’s ASL girl is the best!” said another, sharing clips of Hanaumi interpreting some of the musical numbers in the film.
Barbie broke some major box office records after its premiere in July. Not only did the comedy have the biggest opening weekend of the year, surpassing all of 2023’s Marvel movies, but it also had the biggest box office opening ever for a movie directed by a woman. Barbie’s was the biggest three-day opening for a movie based on a toy, exceeding all the Transformers films.
By August, the film hit $1 billion at the box office, a milestone that Gerwig promised the studio when pitching the idea.
“I gave a series of examples like, ‘dinosaurs and [Steven] Spielberg,’ that and that, that and that — pretty much naming anything that’s been incredible and made a ton of money for the studios over the years,” she recalled in a July interview with Collider. “And I was like, ‘And now you’ve got Barbie and Greta Gerwig.’”
She concluded, “I think I told them that it’d make a billion dollars, which maybe I was overselling, but we had a movie to make.”