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Barbie Premiere Getty 1.jpg

Box Office: Now I Am Become Barbie, Destroyer of Worlds

By Kayleigh Donaldson | Film | July 24, 2023 |

By Kayleigh Donaldson | Film | July 24, 2023 |


Barbie Premiere Getty 1.jpg

If you build it, they will come. The Summer of Barbenheimer is finally here and it has more than satisfied our mighty expectations. We’ve been joking about this mash-up for so long that I think it’s easy to overlook the sheer simple joy of it and why we’re all as excited for it as we were. It’s been a while since we’ve had two big films drop on the same day with equal amounts of marketing, hype, and audience interest. Even before the lockdown, we got too used to seeing studios drop a big film, then everyone else waiting a week or three to release something else for fear of not making as much money. Counterprogramming feels far less common at the cinema now than it used to, and we’re all poorer for it. This weekend, we had a choice, and most of us said, ‘Why not both?’ The memes were too strong, but the films themselves more than earned our enthusiasm.

It was no surprise that Barbie made more money. It’s got a wider intended audience, it’s shorter, it’s less weighed down by existential angst (but don’t worry, it also has plenty of that), and it’s piiiiiiink! Greta Gerwig got tons of amazing reviews for her film and audiences couldn’t have responded more enthusiastically. It earned $155 million in its domestic opening weekend! To put that into perspective, that’s only $4 million less than Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny has made in four weeks. It’s more than Elemental has made in six weeks. It’s already made back its $140 million budget, and it’s the biggest opening weekend ever for a film directed by a woman. Worldwide, it’s already sitting at $337 million. Expect this one to be one of the biggest movies of 2023. Word of mouth will only further fuel it.

(Update: Based on the final numbers, Barbie has now actually earned $162 million, the best opening of the year.)

And don’t cry for Oppenheimer. Christopher Nolan had one hell of a weekend too, earning $80.5 million in the process. Remember, this is a three-hour-long political drama mostly comprised of people sitting in rooms and talking about physics and war ethics. The might of Nolan’s name was expected to take it far but success was not guaranteed, even without the competition of its pink neighbour. It far outperformed the expectations of Universal, who anticipated a $50 million opening weekend. Nolan has solidified his status as a true commercial star, a rarity for any director in 2023. And it’s continuing worldwide, with the overall gross now over $174.1 million. What a great weekend!

It’s truly fascinating and a delight for film fans that the Summer of Barbenheimer was such a big deal. They complimented each other, and it felt like a real event to go to the cinema to see one or both. I saw them over this past weekend (every screening was sold out at my local arthouse for three days straight) and people dressed up! There were special themed cocktails! The enthusiasm was infectious! Watch as studios desperately try to make lightning strike twice after this, but for now, this was one of the real pop culture highlights of 2023.

This coming week sees the release of the horror film Talk to Me and the Disney horror-comedy Haunted Mansion. Ah, ah, ah yeah.

You can check out the rest of the weekend box office here.