Barbie continues to smash box office records five weeks after its premiere. The movie based on the Mattel doll, written and directed by Greta Gerwig and produced by and starring Margot Robbie, has dominated ticket sales since its worldwide release on July 21. It is already the highest-grossing film worldwide in the history of Warner Bros., its main producer and distributor, with global revenues of $1.35 billion.
Barbie has now surpassed the studio’s biggest success to date: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2, which was released in July 2011. The final chapter of the young wizard’s adventures was made on a budget of $125 million and grossed nearly $170 million in its first weekend in the U.S., going on to earn $1.342 billion worldwide in total box office revenues. Barbie cost $100 million, made around $160 million in its first weekend in the U.S. (and more than $330 million worldwide) and has already surpassed the final Harry Potter installment with almost $600 million in the U.S. and another $750 million in the rest of the world. It has also become the highest-grossing film of the year in the U.S., passing The Super Mario Bros. Movie. When Barbie exceeds $600 million in the U.S., which experts forecast it will do by the middle of this week, it will be the 13th highest-grossing film in American history. Currently, it is the 17th highest-grossing film worldwide.
These figures do not take into account inflation or the price of movie tickets. In 2023, the average price of a movie ticket in the U.S. is $10.53; in 2011, when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2 was released, it was, according to Reuters, $7.93, so the boy wizard sold more tickets than the Mattel doll has so far. Even so, the specialized press already assumes Barbie will climb further in the charts and in the record books.
Barbie is already the highest-grossing female-directed project in U.S. history; if — or rather, when — it surpasses $1.43 billion, it will be the highest-grossing such film in the world, surpassing Frozen II, directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, who also wrote the screenplay. The film’s promotion has taken the market by storm, turning it into a cinematic, social, and cultural phenomenon.
Timing has also favored Barbie: the potential of being weighed down by the writer’s and actors’ strikes was averted as it had been on the promotion trail for months. The stoppage was declared just 10 days before its premiere, but the film’s stars had already appeared in front of fans in London, Mexico, Seoul, New York, and Los Angeles.
Nor was it affected by the parallel release of Oppenheimer, the project about the creator of the atomic bomb directed by Christopher Nolan. In fact, the two were a winning combo that came to be known as Barbenheimer and lured millions of people to theaters. Gerwig’s film only required a couple of weeks to surpass the $1 billion mark in global box office revenues, a line it crossed on the weekend of August 7. And it has several more left to run.
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