The Beanie Bubble: The true story behind Apple TV's new Beanie Baby movie and how accurate is it?

Apple TV's new film The Beanie Bubble tells the story of the Beanie Baby fad in the 90s - but how true to life is this story?

The Beanie Bubble
(Image credit: Apple TV)

The Beanie Bubble is Apple TV's latest movie that focuses on the rise and fall in of the the beanie baby toys that were popular back in the 90s. 

Fans are loving The Beanie Bubble, a new film on Netflix starring Elizabeth Banks, Zach Galifianakis and a lot of tiny teddy bears. The comedy drama was released on July 28, 2023, and has already garnered a lot of interest from fans who can remember owning their own beanie babies and participating in this exact fad.

The story is based on reality but the tagline of the film explained, 'There are parts of the truth you just can’t make up. The rest, we did.' So how much of this movie is imagined? And what was changed for the movie?

The Beanie Bubble

(Image credit: Apple TV)

Is The Beanie Bubble based on a book?

The Beanie Baby is based on a book by  Zac Bissonnette titled The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute. This book was originally published in 2015 and is an in-depth look at the plush animal craze that caused the price of the toys to soar and plummet.

The book is faithful to the events that took place in real life, and while this was the basis of the film, Apple TV still took creative liberties withe their adaptation and retelling of events.

The Beanie Bubble

(Image credit: Apple TV)

How accurate in The Beanie Bubble

In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, directors  Kristin Gore and Damian Kulash explained why they needed to make some key changes to real-life events. "It went through many drafts," said Kristin. "And then we developed this idea of wanting to tell more of a fable and a universal story."

"There are so many weird little snippets of things that happened around the swirl of Beanie Babies that, if you wanted to tell a purely real story, it’s there," added Damian. "But it wouldn’t have the same heart and depth and human journey through it." So what did they add in and change?

A key thing that was changed in The Beanie Bubble was the names of some of the characters. Elizabeth Bank's character Robbie Jones was called Patricia Roche in real life. Similarly, Sarah Snook's character Sheila Harper was really called Faith McGowan and Geraldine Viswanathan's character Maya Kumar was actually called Lina Trivedi.

The directors changed their names because they made key changes to their character's portrayal, and because of legal issues. "It got too complicated," said Kristin. "Because of that, and out of respect to the changes we made, we said, 'Okay, let’s change their names.'"

Was some of the footage real?

For some scenes, real footage was used to show the beanie baby mania. "We shot our own versions of people grabbing things off of shelves," Kristin told the LA Times. "And then we also have some real historical footage of people grabbing things off shelves. But everything was re-created from something real."

The truck crash with Beanie Babies spilling out onto the highway was a real event that took place on the Atlanta freeway in 1999 - and people did in fact rush to grab these plush toys from the wreckage. This scene was reconstructed for the film and Kristin spoke about the logistics of it. "There were slightly different mechanics of the crash, but they did all spill out," she said. "We wanted to open the movie with that from the beginning, as soon as we found out that had actually happened because it felt like a metaphor for the whole story."

The Beanie Bubble is available to view now on Apple TV.

Laura Harman

Laura is the Entertainment Editor for woman&home who primarily covers television, film, and celebrity news. Laura loves drinking and eating and can often be found trying to get reservations at London's trendiest restaurants. When she's not wining and dining, Laura can also be found travelling, baking, and hiking with her dog.