The Barbie film, directed solely by Greta Gerwig, has brought in a staggering $1.03 billion at box offices worldwide just three weeks after its release, Warner Bros. has reported. This monumental box office achievement makes Gerwig the first woman working alone as a director to have a movie generate over $1 billion in revenue. The lighthearted film, which costars Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, has clearly resonated with audiences and proven to be a massive commercial success.
Given the immense popularity of the “Barbie and Ken” internet meme Barbenheimer, the blockbuster success of the Barbie film is not entirely surprising. As a cultural icon for over 60 years, Barbie has built up a massive fanbase all on her own. So her stellar box office performance, independent of any partner, is to be expected according to industry experts. “I’ve been analyzing media trends for 30 years, and the Barbie movie’s incredible reception is as unprecedented as it was unpredictable,” commented Paul Dergarabedian, senior analyst at ComScore. The beloved doll has clearly captivated audiences and her first solo live-action film has proved a triumphant victory.
Dergarabedian noted that only around 50 movies in history have grossed over $1 billion globally, without accounting for inflation.
He said the film’s marketing strategy first indicated that “Barbie” would be a box office hit. “The promotion pairing ‘Barbie’ with ‘Oppenheimer’ sparked the ‘Barbenheimer’ craze, inserting that word into pop culture given their same release date. That’s when we realized this movie would have a much bigger impact than anticipated – record-breaking opening weekend numbers and continued success in theaters worldwide.”
In an interview last month with Collider, Margot Robbie – who stars as Barbie and produced the film – recalled predicting the movie’s billion-dollar potential at an early meeting with studios. “I may have been overpromising, but we had a film to make!” she remarked.
Distributed globally by Warner Bros., owned by CNN parent company Warner Bros. Discovery, “Barbie” has seen tremendous success in several major markets like the UK, Mexico, and Australia. The lighthearted movie has been the top box office earner every weekend in these countries since its premiere, per data site Box Office Mojo.
Propelled by these key international audiences along with U.S. moviegoers, “Barbie” has now officially surpassed $1 billion in ticket sales around the world. Robbie’s early aspiration for the film has become reality.
Barbie has also found immense success in China, now the second-largest movie market globally and increasingly introspective in recent years. Franchise films like Transformers, Fast and Furious, and Marvel’s superhero series tend to resonate most with Chinese audiences per experts. While Barbie is an existing toy brand like Transformers, it lacks the generational nostalgia in China that fuels its appeal in the US, noted Michael Berry, director of UCLA’s Center for Chinese Studies.
However, Berry, who researches Chinese media trends, says Barbie maintains international renown that provided a strong foundation. “Children across hundreds of countries have grown up with Barbie dolls and imagery,” he stated. “The film smartly leverages that global name recognition by enticing both Barbie devotees and critics.” Though not an innately Chinese brand, Barbie’s worldwide stardom has helped drive the film’s trump
As Berry analyzed, “The movie skillfully walks a fine line appealing both to wide-eyed 8-year-old dreamers who view it simplistically, as well as adult audiences who interpret it differently, picking up on irony, humor, innuendos, and allegory.”
Barbie has become everything from a relationship test to a female empowerment ode, attracting some initially for the bright outfits who stayed for thought-provoking questions, said Box-office Pro’s chief analyst Shawn Robbins.
“Driving discussions is the film’s embrace of what women have loved yet also hated about the brand’s past representations,” Robbins added. “It has tapped into cross-cultural dialogues on gender roles and empowerment that resonate globally.” The movie has successfully leveraged nostalgia while modernizing Barbie as an inclusive, aspirational icon.