The Greta Gerwig-directed blockbuster has tapped into a cultural zeitgeist: not only did it make history by hitting the billion-dollar box office milestone, it also did so faster than any film — including those directed by men — in Warner Bros.’ 100-year history, executives there said.
The film, which earlier scored the biggest opening weekend of the year, “has captured the imagination of moviegoers around the world and the results are incredibly impressive,” analyst Paul Dergarabedian of Comscore said.
Starring Margot Robbie as iconic doll Barbie and Ryan Gosling as boyfriend Ken, the movie earned a projected $53 million for the Friday-through-Sunday period, for a domestic total of $459 million and a whopping $1.03 billion worldwide.
Co-written by Gerwig and her partner Noah Baumbach, it follows Barbie as she contends with her woman-led, pink-plastered fantasy land becoming infected with real world problems, in a comic self-aware commentary on the dolls’ decades-old cultural significance.
A supporting cast including Will Ferrell, Kate McKinnon and America Ferrera add even more star power to the film, while its soundtrack includes new songs by chart toppers Dua Lipa, Lizzo and Nicki Minaj — as well as a surprise hit in “I’m Just Ken,” the power ballad sung in the film by Gosling.
“Barbie” is only the sixth film to surpass $1 billion at the box-office since the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Variety.
In modern box office history, just 53 movies have made over $1 billion, not accounting for inflation, and “Barbie” is now the biggest to be directed by one woman, supplanting “Wonder Woman’s” $821.8 million global total. Three movies that were co-directed by women are still ahead of “Barbie,” including “Frozen” ($1.3 billion) and “Frozen 2” ($1.45 billion) both co-directed by Jennifer Lee and “Captain Marvel” ($1.1 billion), co-directed by Anna Boden. But, “Barbie” has passed “Captain Marvel” domestically with $459.4 million (versus $426.8 million), thereby claiming the North American record for live-action movies directed by women.
Falling to third place was Universal’s “Oppenheimer,” the dark historical drama whose opening the same week as “Barbie” sparked the massive “Barbenheimer” social media trend.
Christopher Nolan‘s “Oppenheimer” earned $28.7 million to push its global total to $552 million.
That total made the story about the creation of the atomic bomb the all-time top grossing World War II film, ahead of Nolan’s own “Dunkirk” ($527 million) and Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” ($482 million), not adjusted for inflation, according to Hollywood Reporter.
All in all, it was an exceptional weekend for Hollywood, with the top four films all raking in $28 million or more — though whether the industry can sustain that momentum in the face of a historic writers’ and actors’ strike remains to be seen.
Not only did the top films come close to doubling the total from the same weekend last year, they surpassed the corresponding pre-pandemic weekend in 2019, analysts said.
As Ken might have said — in a line reportedly ad-libbed by Gosling in “Barbie” — the weekend was “Sublime!”
Rounding out the top 10 were:
“Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1” ($6.4 million)
“Talk to Me” ($6.2 million)
“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” ($1.5 million)
“Elemental” ($1.2 million)