A record-breaking $1 billion is earned by ‘Barbie’ at the box office. The answer to the billion-dollar query is a resounding “yes” in “Barbie.” According to official estimates from Warner Bros., Greta Gerwig’s blockbuster has grossed an extraordinary $1.03 billion worldwide in less than three weeks of release. This makes Gerwig the first female director to have a film gross a billion dollars alone.
As one half of the “Barbenheimer” phenomenon, it’s unsurprising that “Barbie” has performed so well. Moreover, the doll’s phenomenal success is hardly surprising, given her ability to stand independently.
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, stated, “I’ve been in this business for 30 years, and the Barbie and Barbenheimer phenomenon is both unprecedented and unforeseen.”
According to Dergarabedian, only about fifty films in history, unadjusted for inflation, have grossed more than $1 billion.
He added that the marketing campaign for the film was the first indication that “Barbie” would be a box-office success. “The marketing campaign for ‘Barbie’ set in motion a series of events that resulted in the addition of the term ‘Barbenheimer’ to the popular lexicon as a result of the film’s shared release date with ‘Oppenheimer,’ and that’s when we all realized that something extraordinary and unique was going to make a significant impact.
In an interview with Collider last month, Margot Robbie, who also produced and starred in the film, revealed a premonition she had during a studio greenlight meeting.
“I’m pretty sure I told them they’d make a billion dollars, but we had a movie to make!” she exclaimed.
“Barbie” was distributed by Warner Bros., owned by Warner Bros. Discovery, the parent company. Box office sales in major film markets, including the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Australia, drove its global success. Box Office Mojo reports that the film has been the top release in these markets every weekend since its release.
“Barbie” also performed well in China, the world’s second-largest market, and has become more closed off in recent years. According to industry experts, franchise films such as “Transformers,” “Fast and Furious,” and Marvel’s superhero films perform well with Chinese audiences. While “Barbie” is similar to “Transformers” in that it is based on an existing toy, it is “not an IP that generations of Chinese have grown up with, so you lack the intergenerational appeal that a film like ‘Barbie’ has in the United States,” said Michael Berry, director of the UCLA Center for Chinese Studies.
However, according to Berry, an expert on Chinese cinema and popular culture, Barbie remains an international icon, providing the film with a secure foundation for international acclaim.
“Children in hundreds of countries have grown up with Barbie dolls and her imagery,” he said. “However, the film cleverly capitalizes on that name recognition by appealing to both Barbie fans and haters.” The film can also appeal to both nave and wide-eyed eight-year-old dreamers, who approach it on one level, and mature audiences, who can interpret it on a completely different story, full of irony, humor, sexual innuendos, and allegory.
People who may have come for the hot-pink outfits but stayed for the film’s existential concerns have made “Barbie” everything from a relationship litmus test to a celebration of womanhood.
“Driving this discourse is the film’s embrace of what generations of women have both loved and hated about the brand and what it has often represented in the past,” said BoxOffice Pro chief analyst Shawn Robbins, adding that the film “has tapped into cross-cultural conversations about gender roles and female empowerment.”