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Barbie box office

Oct 30, 2023Oct 30, 2023

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It'll soon join the billion-dollar club.

Barbie has exceeded all expectations as it continued its box office domination in its second weekend, comfortably outperforming other notable 2023 blockbusters like Indiana Jones 5 and Mission: Impossible 7.

After achieving the biggest-ever US box office debut for a movie by a female director, it was thought that Barbie would be a fast-burner that opened high and dropped fast. However, it's done anything but and is now speedily approaching the $1 billion mark at the global box office.

At the start of the year, few would have had Barbie as the summer's biggest movie, let alone 2023's biggest movie, but that now seems assured. So how has Greta Gerwig's movie about the iconic Mattel doll been such a success?

Let's delve into the numbers to investigate.

If you haven't kept up with the weekend box office, we'll start with the latest astonishing numbers for Barbie.

The movie recorded the seventh-biggest second weekend of all time with $93 million in the US for a running total of $351.4 million. Overseas, Barbie partied to another $127 million for $423.1 million internationally and a worldwide haul of $780.7 million after only two weekends of release.

To put that into context, Barbie is already the fourth-biggest movie of the year at the US box office, the fourth-biggest movie of the year at the international box office and the third-biggest movie of the year worldwide.

It's now a question of when and not if Barbie will hit the $1 billion mark, something which could happen as early as its third weekend. It would be the second film of 2023 to achieve the feat, and looks set to eventually overtake The Super Mario Bros Movie's $1.35 billion as the biggest movie of the year.

Among the many records that Barbie has set since its record-breaking opening weekend – which saw it deliver the biggest-ever non-sequel, non-remake and non-superhero debut – are:

• Distributor Warner Bros's biggest-ever second weekend at the US box office• The biggest Monday and Tuesday takings for Warner Bros at the US box office ($26.1 million and $26 million, respectively)• Warner Bros's biggest-ever movie in Brazil• The biggest week ever for Warner Bros at the US box office with $258.2 million

Rather than slowing down, Barbie has consistently overdelivered every day at the box office and isn't just keeping its wins to the weekend. It suggests that the movie has the four-quadrant appeal that studios dream of: a movie that appeals to male and female audiences, as well as both over- and under-25s.

The obvious place to start with why Barbie has proven such a draw at the box office is that it's genuinely a great movie. It currently holds an 89% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and achieved an A CinemaScore rating, giving it both critical acclaim and popular appeal, the latter almost definitely leading to repeat viewings.

But it's not just as simple as Barbie being good equalling big numbers. There are plenty of well-received movies that haven't hit these kinds of box-office heights as quickly.

What has really been key to Barbie's huge success is the ubiquitous marketing campaign that stretches back to April 2022 at CinemaCon. Warner Bros released the first image of Margot Robbie as Barbie as it confirmed the July 21 release date.

The following month, the movie received some free marketing as photos from the set showed Robbie and Ryan Gosling rollerblading in Venice Beach, kickstarting the social media frenzy for Barbie which hasn't abated since.

Adding in numerous partnerships with the likes of Airbnb, Crocs and Google all getting in on the Barbie party, it was a marketing campaign that was impossible to escape. There wasn't just social buzz, it extended beyond the likes of Twitter and TikTok into the real world to generate hype for the movie.

It's when you combine that kind of hype with excellent reviews that prove to be a potent combo. Movies with hype that turn out to be disappointing might have a good opening, but fade away fast; Barbie sustaining past its first weekend is because it's been able to add word-of-mouth to the already-effective marketing campaign.

Arguably though, one of the most important aspects of Barbie's marketing campaign was the release of the 2001-inspired teaser trailer, taken from the opening scenes of the movie, in December 2022.

It wasn't just that it was because it was an excellent teaser, it was the decision to pair it with Avatar: The Way of Water in cinemas. Not only was that movie watched by a lot of people (third-biggest movie of all time), it highlighted that Barbie wasn't going to be what you thought.

"It broke the mould in terms of the images that first come to mind when thinking about a Barbie movie," Josh Goldstine, the president of worldwide marketing at Warner Bros, told The Guardian of the decision.

"We didn't want to show up as a sweet little girl Barbie movie. We wanted to show up as a bold event that is going to deliver some shock and awe. We wanted to be true to what Greta's vision for the movie was."

Barbie's teaser was so arresting that it opened up the movie beyond the expected younger-skewing female audience. It didn't stop the movie appealing to that key demographic, one that has largely been starved of movies directed for them, but it helped start breaking it out into a movie that had to be seen by all.

You also can't ignore the Barbenheimer of it all. Ever since that release date was confirmed, the unique dual release has been a conversation point on social media, something that only amplified as the release came closer.

Cinemagoers who perhaps would have only chosen one of either Barbie or Oppenheimer ended up doing the double-bill, opening Barbie up to an even wider audience than it would have once had. Oppenheimer is likely the bigger benefactor of the double-bill, but Barbie would have been boosted too.

In a summer that has already seen high-profile casualties at the box office, Barbie has been a gamble by Warner Bros that has paid off beyond even the studio's wildest expectations – and there's no end in sight.

With little competition being released in the coming weeks, especially since The Marvels shifted from July 28 to November 10, Barbie could run and run at the box office to become this year's Top Gun: Maverick.

While Tom Cruise would have hoped Mission: Impossible 7 could have been that movie, we have a feeling he'd respect Barbie's incredible box-office run which has really only just begun.

Barbie is out now in cinemas.

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Barbie is out now in cinemas.