Barbie hits $1 billion at box office, breaks new record for female directors

Publish Date
Monday, 7 August 2023, 2:54PM
Barbie, starring Margot Robbie, is set to surpass US$1 billion in global ticket sales just weeks after its release. Photo / AP

Barbie, starring Margot Robbie, is set to surpass US$1 billion in global ticket sales just weeks after its release. Photo / AP

Greta Gerwig should be feeling closer to fine these days. In just three weeks in theatres, Barbie is set to sail past US$1 billion (NZ$1.6b) in global ticket sales, breaking a record for female directors that was previously held by Patty Jenkins, who helmed Wonder Woman.

Barbie, which Gerwig directed and co-wrote, added another US$53 million (NZ$86m) in the US and a further US$74 million (NZ$121m) internationally, bringing its global total to US$1.03 billion, according to Warner Bros estimates.

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The Margot Robbie-led and produced film has been comfortably atop box office ratings for three weeks and it’s hardly finished yet. It crossed US$400 million (NZ$656m) in the US and US$500 million (NZ$820m) internationally faster than any other movie at the studio, including the Harry Potter films.

Ryan Gosling as Ken and Margot Robbie as Barbie. Photo / Warner Bros

“As distribution chiefs, we’re not often rendered speechless by a film’s performance, but Barbillion has blown even our most optimistic predictions out of the water,” said Jeff Goldstein and Andrew Cripps, who oversee domestic and international distribution for the studio, in a joint statement.

In modern box office history, just 53 movies have made more than US$1b, not accounting for inflation, and Barbie is now the biggest to be directed by one woman, supplanting Wonder Woman’s US$821.8 (NZ$1.3b) global total.

Three movies that were co-directed by women are still ahead of Barbie, including Frozen (US$1.3 billion - NZ$2.1b) and Frozen 2 (US$1.45b - NZ$2.3b) both co-directed by Jennifer Lee and Captain Marvel (US$1.1b - NZ$1.8b), co-directed by Anna Boden.

But, Barbie has passed Captain Marvel domestically with US$459.4m - NZ$755m - (versus US$426.8m - NZ$701m), thereby claiming the North American record for live-action movies directed by women.

Warner Bros co-chairs and CEOs Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy also praised Gerwig in a statement and said the milestone, “is testament to her brilliance and to her commitment to deliver a movie that Barbie fans of every age want to see on the big screen”.

Greta Gerwig's Barbie, starring Margot Robbie, is a record-breaking film from a female director. Photo / Getty Images

New competition came this weekend in the form of the animated, PG-rated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem and the Jason Statham shark sequel, Meg 2: The Trench, both of which were neck-in-neck with Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, also in its third weekend, for the second-place spot.

Meg 2 managed to sneak ahead and land in second place. It overcame its abysmal reviews to score a US$30m (NZ$49m) opening weekend in the US. The Warner Bros release, directed by Ben Wheatley, currently has a 29 per cent critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes and a B- CinemaScore from audiences. The thriller was released in 3D, which accounted for 22 per cent of its first-weekend business.

Third place went to Oppenheimer, which added US$28.7m (NZ$47m) in the US, bringing its domestic total to US$228.6m (NZ$375.7m).

In just three weeks, the J Robert Oppenheimer biopic starring Cillian Murphy has become the highest-grossing R-rated film of the year (ahead of John Wick Chapter 4) and the sixth-biggest of the year overall, surpassing Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.


Oppenheimer also celebrated a landmark, crossing US$500m (NZ$821m) globally in three weeks. Its worldwide tally is currently US$552.9m (NZ$908.9m) to rank it among the four top-grossing biographies ever (company includes Bohemian Rhapsody, The Passion of the Christ and American Sniper) and the biggest World War II movie of all time.

Barbie, Oppenheimer and even the surprise, anti-trafficking hit Sound of Freedom have helped fuel a boom at the box office, bringing in many millions more than was expected and helping to offset pains caused by some summer disappointments.


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