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Barbie Box Office: Go Woke, Gross $1 Billion

Barbie movie Margot Robbie 2023Barbie movie with Margot Robbie: Leaving right-wingers apoplectic, Greta Gerwig’s “woke” fantasy comedy-drama is now a billion-dollar blockbuster at the global box office.
  • Barbie box office: Despite the best efforts of American bigots and fascists, Greta Gerwig’s fantasy dramedy starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling is a huge domestic hit – and an even bigger one internationally.
  • Even adjusting for inflation, Barbie is one of the biggest female-centered commercial hits in movie history.

Barbie box office: Reviled by right-wingers, Greta Gerwig’s woman-centered fantasy is a runaway global blockbuster; Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling star

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

“Go woke, go broke” is the motto of American bigots and fascists, some of whom have vociferously attacked the latest malignant threat to God, Country, and Family: That’s Barbie, the movie.

Released by Warner Bros. (a subsidiary of the troubled Warner Bros. Discovery), directed by Greta Gerwig from a screenplay credited to Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, and starring a blonde Margot Robbie as Stereotypical Barbie and a bleached Ryan Gosling as Beach Ken, Barbie chronicles the misadventures of the titular fantasy-world heroine – based on Mattel’s real-world doll – after she suffers an existential crisis while dancing at a Barbieland party, which in turn propels her and Ken to seek the meaning of life in Hollywood’s La La Land version of Los Angeles.

Now, who who are those anti-woke, pro-broke people?

Anti-woke zealots & opportunists

However they choose to define the word ”woke” – in different contexts, “politically correct,” “progressive,” and “anti-fascist” would be apt synonyms – here are a few examples of those who, whether for ideological or self-promotional reasons, abhor wokesters:

Representing the interests and values of the millions of voters in Florida – the leprosy, malaria, and inflation capital of the United States – who decisively reelected him as their governor, Ron DeSantis, also a (currently flailing) Republican presidential contender, has been waging a holy anti-woke war against both The Walt Disney Company (for coming out against his “Don’t Say Gay” bill) and the brewing company Anheuser-Busch (for using the promotional services of an online transgender influencer to sell Bud Light).

In addition to banning books at libraries and educational institutions in various U.S. states, the anti-woke mob has also called for boycotts of the aforementioned Bud Light (whose sales have plummeted), the chain store Target (for providing gay-themed materials; its stock price has taken a hit but for unrelated reasons), and the baseball team Los Angeles Dodgers (for inviting an LGBT performance group consisting of a bunch of guys and trans women dressed as nuns).

But how does Barbie get mixed up in all this?

Well, reasons for attacking Barbie on the cable channel Fox and other far-right outlets have ranged from the portrayal of an emasculated Ken to a Barbieland map that shows little dashes off of what’s supposed to be the East Asian coast – which has led U.S. Republican Senator Ted Cruz, representing the interests and values of his millions of Texas voters, to denounce the Warner Bros. release as a deliberate piece of propaganda for the People’s Republic of China’s “communist” regime.[1]

So, how impactful has the right-wing anti-Barbie outrage been?

Well, about as impactful as former White House occupant Donald Trump’s 78-and-counting criminal charges (spread out over three-and-counting indictments) on the United States’ tens of millions of ardently pro-law-and-order Republican voters.

Global $1 billion milestone after three weekends? (Yes)

On its July 21–23 weekend debut, the critically embraced Barbie grossed $162 million ($7 million above estimates) from 4,243 U.S. and Canadian theaters and $194.3 million from 69 international territories according to final studio figures found at Opening-weekend grand total: $356.3 million – or nearly $20 million above estimates.

Despite the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, which threw a wrench in the film’s star-propelled p.r. machinery, after six days Barbie had earned $528.6 million around the world: $237.2 million domestically; $291.4 million internationally.

After ten days/two weekends, Barbie’s domestic and international totals had reached, respectively, $351.4 million and (an estimated) $429.3 million. Worldwide cume: $780.7 million.

As of Friday, Aug. 4, Barbie has tallied an estimated $423.3 million domestically and $527.7 million internationally. Global cume: $951 million.

Its top international markets (estimates up to Aug. 6) are the United Kingdom/Ireland ($87.9 million), Mexico ($48.9 million), Australia ($41.1 million), Brazil ($39.5 million), Germany ($33.7 million), China ($31.7 million), France ($29.1 million), Italy ($27.9 million), Spain ($26 million), and Argentina ($13 million).[2]

Barbie is expected to cross the $1 billion milestone sometime on Sunday, Aug. 6 (see update further above). That would be an eventful (albeit slightly belated) birthday gift for director/co-screenwriter Greta Gerwig, who turned 40 on Friday.

Update: On Sunday, Aug. 6, Barbie reached $1.033 billion at the global box office: $459.4 million in the U.S. and Canada, and an estimated $574.2 million internationally.

Barbie movie Ryan Gosling Margot RobbieBarbie movie with Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie: Starring a blonde Robbie and a bleached Gosling, the global blockbuster provides further evidence that people go to the movies to see characters who look like them.

One of the biggest opening weekends ever

Now, how impressive are the above figures?

First of all, after two costly duds – Ezra Miller’s The Flash, Zachary Levi’s Shazam! Fury of the Gods – Warner Bros. finally has a major commercial hit.

Besides The Flash and the Shazam sequel, the female-centered Barbie has also far outgrossed – both domestically and internationally – a couple of other big-budget, male-centered, male-oriented summer 2023 releases: Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (most recent update: $358.3 million worldwide; [box office article]) and Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One (most recent update: $455.9 million worldwide).

At no. 20 on the All-Time Biggest Domestic Opening Weekends chart, Barbie boasts the highest debut for a non-sequel, non-remake, and (not or) non-superhero movie.

A little perspective: Once higher ticket-prices are taken into account, Barbie trails both The Hunger Games ($152.5 million from 4,137 locations in March 2012; approx. $202 million adjusted) and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone ($90.3 million from 3,672 locations in November 2001; approx. $168 million adjusted).

Greta Gerwig makes box office history – sort of

Among movies directed (or co-directed) by women – and as long as inflation is once again set aside – Barbie had the best domestic opening weekend ever, having easily surpassed Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s Captain Marvel ($153.4 million from 4,310 locations in March 2019), Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee’s Frozen II ($130.6 million from 4,440 locations in November 2019), and Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman ($103.3 million from 4,165 locations in June 2017).

Once inflation is taken into account, Captain Marvel is still tops with approximately $179 million.

Among 2023 opening weekends in the U.S. and Canada – inflation doesn’t play much of a role here – Barbie is the no. 1 title, having breezily outperformed Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie ($146.4 million from 4,343 locations in April).

Barbie vs. Batman

Additionally, Barbie officially holds Warners’ box office record in two notable categories, Top Domestic Monday and Top Domestic Second Weekend, having surpassed the grosses of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (box office article): $26.1 million vs. $24.5 million (Monday); $93 million vs. $75.2 million (second weekend).

Once inflation is factored in, however, Nolan’s Batman sequel remains far ahead of Barbie in both instances: $36 million and $103 million, respectively.

Again, Barbie is indisputably a mammoth hit. But no journalist should be doing p.r. for any studio. (And let’s not forget that Nolan made sure that the global hit Oppenheimer would not be made at Warners.[3])

Moving on…

One of the most successful female-centered live-action movies ever

When it comes to live-action movies whose raison d’être is one or more female characters, Barbie is already one of the most successful exemplars of the “genre.”

Of course, at least in the domestic market, there’s no chance Margot Robbie will be able to surpass – in inflation-adjusted figures (approximate figures – take these with caution – in parentheses) – Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Havilland (Gone with the Wind: $1.895.4 billion), and Julie Andrews (The Sound of Music: $1.335.1 billion; Mary Poppins: $735.6 million). Or, for that matter, Ellen Burstyn and Linda Blair (The Exorcist: $1.036.3 billion).

And there’s little chance Robbie will end up ahead of Elizabeth Taylor (Cleopatra: $629.5 million).

On the other hand, the Barbie star has outperformed the following so far:

By Sunday, Margot Robbie will also be ahead of Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman: $432.4 million) and Brie Larson (Captain Marvel: $443.9 million).

And once Barbie ends its commercial run in the U.S. and Canada, Robbie will have also surpassed Jennifer Jones (Duel in the Sun: $478.1 million) and Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games: $476.6 million [box office article]; The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: $478.9 million [box office article]), and likely Emma Watson (Beauty and the Beast: $532.7 million).

Barbie movie Margot RobbieBarbie with Margot Robbie: With Barbie reaching $1 billion globally, Greta Gerwig is officially the first solo female director to achieve that feat. (Currency fluctuations and international inflation rates make it impossible to adjust the gross of Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman [$822.9 million in 2017].)

Box office rarity

Something else: How unusual is Barbie’s mega-success?


Bear in mind that in the last half century or so, U.S.-made, women-centered live-action box office hits have been few and far between. For instance, among the Top Ten in the domestic market from 2015–2022 you have only (per calendar year):

  • 2015: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (Jennifer Lawrence) and Cinderella (Lily James and Cate Blanchett).
  • 2017: Beauty and the Beast (Emma Watson) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot).
  • 2019: Captain Marvel (Brie Larson).
  • 2020 (COVID-derailed year): Birds of Prey (Margot Robbie), Little Women (Saoirse Ronan), and The Invisible Man (Elisabeth Moss).
  • 2021 (COVID-derailed year): Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and, stretching things a bit, A Quiet Place Part II (Emily Blunt).

There were no live-action female-led movies among the Top Ten in 2016, 2018, and 2022.

Whether domestically or globally, so far this year the only female-focused, non-slasher live-action movies found among the Top 30 titles are Barbie; The Little Mermaid (Halle Bailey; $564.3 million globally [box office article]); and (to a certain extent) No Hard Feelings (Jennifer Lawrence; $85 million globally).

Thanks, right-wingers…

As for female-centered live-action movies that have reached the $1 billion milestone worldwide (not adjusted for inflation or currency fluctuations), there have been only three (out of 52 titles) to date: Beauty and the Beast ($1.27 billion), Captain Marvel ($1.13 billion), and Alice in Wonderland ($1.03 billion). (Update: Barbie is now the fourth title.)

Barbie is about to become the fourth – and the first one with an original screenplay not featuring a superhero.

So, could the attacks from right-wingers and assorted bigots have actually helped Barbie become a mega-success – at least in the domestic market?

Why not?

Whatever it takes to raise extra awareness about a product most people want.

Money well spent

Barbie was reportedly budgeted somewhere around $145 million. As always, this figure doesn’t include marketing and distribution expenses, which may – may – have reached an astounding $150 million in case estimates from “rival studios” are accurate.

Either way, money well spent.

Throughout movie history, there have always been reported cases of someone “saving” a studio on the brink: Mae West saving Paramount in the early 1930s, Deanna Durbin saving Universal in the late 1930s, Tom Cruise saving not only any one studio but Hollywood itself in 2022.

So, Margot Robbie/Barbie as the savior of the beleaguered Warner Bros. Discovery?

Not so fast. After all, the recently mis-formed conglomerate remains nearly $50 billion in the red.

Barbie cast

Besides two-time Oscar nominees Margot Robbie (I, Tonya, 2017; Bombshell, 2019) and Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson, 2006; La La Land, 2016), the Barbie movie cast includes America Ferrera, Will Ferrell, Michael Cera, Rhea Pearlman, Ariana Greenblatt, Kate McKinnon, Issa Rae, and John Cena.

Plus Scott Evans, Lucy Boynton, Annie Mumolo, Joelle Dyson, Oliver Vaquer, Tony Noto, Tom Stourton, Oscar winner Emerald Fennell (Best Original Screenplay for Promising Young Woman, 2020), and two-time Oscar-winning costume designer Ann Roth (The English Patient, 1996; Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, 2020) as “the woman on the bench.”

Lastly, the voice of Oscar winner Helen Mirren (The Queen, 2006) as the narrator.

For the record, Greta Gerwig has received three Oscar nominations to date: Two for Lady Bird (Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, 2017) and one for Little Women (Best Adapted Screenplay 2019).

Barbie Box Office: Go Woke, Gross $1 Billion” notes

Commie Barbie

[1] Where does this particular Ted Cruz insanity come from?

Well, in the minds of some, Barbie’s eight little dashes off the coast of “Asia” – little dashes no different than those representing islands elsewhere on the Barbie map – are supposed to suggest the nine little dashes that symbolize China’s territorial aims in the South China Sea.

Barbie, in fact, has been banned in Vietnam while Barbie prints in The Philippines reportedly had the little dashes blurred.

The silver lining: In the near(er than we’d like to believe) future, the fast-worsening climate cataclysm will make ocean levels rise to such an extent that maritime dots and dashes will be thoroughly submerged. And that means Barbie may finally get a Vietnamese release.

Now, it’s unclear why Canada and Australia haven’t either banned or blurred Barbie, as the Barbieland map shows the former as seemingly a part of the United States while the latter has its name upside down.

Purported South Korean anti-feminist backlash

[2] One major box office market where Barbie has badly underperformed is South Korea, where it took in a mere $1.9 million in its first five days.

Feel free to believe that Barbie has flopped in the East Asian nation because of its “feminist” sensibilities – just like The Little Mermaid is supposed to have bombed in South Korea and China because moviegoers in these two countries like their singing mermaids red-headed and green-eyed.

Hard-right South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol (elected with a simple plurality after the “Left,” courtesy of the Justice Party, split the vote) is an avowed “anti-feminist,“ but his influence (and that of his party) on the South Korean population (especially women) shouldn’t be overestimated. After all – at least according to the latest poll – Yoon’s approval rating is currently less than 40 percent.

Minor aside: Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman scored, respectively, $42.9 million and an estimated $15.5 million in South Korea.

Barbie opens in Japan on Aug. 11.

Christopher Nolan dumps Warner Bros.

[3] Christopher Nolan began his nearly two-decade association with Warner Bros. with the 2002 thriller Insomnia. What followed was a series of mostly major box office hits – e.g., Batman Begins, The Dark Night, Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, Interstellar, Dunkirk.

Nolan decided to look for more filmmaker-friendly pastures when, during the COVID-19 pandemic, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar decided to release Warners’ 2021 big-screen titles simultaneously on the streaming platform HBO Max – a move that infuriated Nolan (Tenet), Denis Villeneuve (Dune), and other talent.

As it happened, Nolan’s next project, the adult-oriented biopic Oppenheimer, eventually found a home at Universal Pictures.

Having debuted on the same weekend as Warners’ Barbie, Oppenheimer – budgeted at a reported $100 million (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses) – is expected to reach a fantastic $550 million worldwide by Sunday evening.

In the big-name cast: Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Josh Hartnett, Casey Affleck, Rami Malek, and Kenneth Branagh.

Unless otherwise noted, “Barbie Box Office: Go Woke, Go Mega-Blockbuster” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety,, etc.).

Comments about Barbie, Oppenheimer, and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).

Bear in mind that data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).

Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.

Lastly, although a more accurate reflection of a film’s popularity (i.e., its number of tickets sold), inflation-adjusted estimates should be taken with extreme caution. For instance, they’re based on average domestic ticket prices (via the National Association of Theater Owners, unless otherwise noted) whereas numerous major releases scored a large chunk of their box office take at top-priced venues.

See also: Directed by Ángel Manuel Soto and starring Xolo Maridueña, Blue Beetle is DC Studios/Warner Bros.’ latest dud.

Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie Barbie movie images: Warner Bros.

Barbie Box Office: Go Woke, Gross $1 Billion” last updated in September 2023.

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