A new princess is coming to a big screen near you and she doesn't wear a tiara, but a paper bag. Oh, and she's feminist AF. Margot Robbie and Elizabeth Banks are teaming up for a film adaptation of The Paper Bag Princess, a 1980 children's book by Robert Munsch that flips the gender roles to tell a female-empowered fairytale. Empowering women is also the theme behind-the-scenes of this adaptation.
Banks and Robbie are already signed on to produce the film for Universal with Banks set to direct the film. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Robbie is set to star as Princess Elizabeth, "but that will depend on several factors, including the script and scheduling." Katie Silberman, who produced How To Be Single and wrote the rom-com satire Isn't It Romantic? with Rebel Wilson, is reportedly writing the screenplay about a princess who is anything but a damsel-in-distress.
The message of The Paper Bag Princess is that no woman needs a prince to save her, she can do it all by herself. It's a message that seems fitting in 2017, but if the film was made way back in 1980, when it was called one of the “first feminist princess books on the market” by Common Sense Media, would have been a real step forward for the princesses that had previously graced the screen. That's because this princess' happily ever after doesn't include marrying a prince, but choosing to stay single.
Yes, for those who haven't read The Paper Bag Princess, let me share with you a 37-year-old spoiler. Princess Elizabeth is set to marry her prince when a fire-breathing dragon attacks the kingdom and kidnaps her fiancé. Since the dragon also burns down the castle, she's left with nothing to wear but a paper bag. Still, she slays the dragons using her wits and saves her prince. Instead of praising her, though, the prince tells her she doesn't look enough like a princess, which leads her to say "boy, bye" and kicks that superficial guy to the curb. Not before calling him a "bum," and dancing off into the sunset.
That right there might be the best ending to any fairytale ever written and now fans will get to see it come to life in this new movie, which as of now doesn't have a release date.
For Munsch, the story of Princess Elizabeth was pulled from his own life. The Paper Bag Princess was inspired by his wife Ann Beeler, who while working at a child care center in Oregon in the '70s, wondered why every children's book ended with a woman being saved by a man. On his website, Munsch even says that Beeler asked the question that would inspire the story: "How come you always have the prince save the princess? Why can’t the princess save the prince?”
"I thought about that," Munsch explained on his website, "and changed around the ending of one of my dragon stories. That made the adults a lot happier, and the kids did not mind."
It's unlikely that it took Banks very long to agree to being part of the film. As The Hollywood Reporter points out, this film keeps with Banks' mission to make films with strong female characters. Banks, who directed Pitch Perfect 2, is set to helm a reboot of Charlie's Angels and is already set to produce the female-fronted shows: Fox's Step Strangers and ABC's Spirited, which will star Laverne Cox as a fake psychic who discovers she has real powers.
Banks also announced that she'll be teaming up with YouTube to help produce video projects from female comedians. Like Princess Elizabeth, Banks knows women don't need a man to save them or to help them tell female stories on the big and small screens.