Barbie Is Breaking Box Office Records

by Peter Candia

When Warner Brothers released “Barbie” a little over a month ago, it rose up against high hopes by industry veterans at the box office. Still, the pink-clad adventure comedy—directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling—is shattering even the highest of expectations. 

Barbie: A Record-Breaking Film

In just a little over 30 days of run-time, Barbie has amassed $569.3 million (as of Tuesday, August 22) at the box office. This massive dollar sign puts it just shy of the Chris Pratt cult-classic “Super Mario Bros” that was released back in April. Barbie is poised to surpass Mario on Wednesday, August 23. It took Mario 138 days to cross its 2023 record-breaking line of $574.2 million—nearly 100 days longer than Barbie is expected to. 

Barbie was breaking records from the get-go, though. In its first weekend in theaters, the whimsical film brought in $155 million—marking the highest grossing debut for a female director in history. 

And Barbie did anything but slow down from there. In the following weeks, it sat comfortably above current films (Oppenheimer, Meg 2: The Trench, etc.) as the most popular and became Warner Brothers’ most lucrative domestic release ever—beating out what many consider to be amongst the greatest films of all time, “The Dark Knight.”

Globally, Margot Robbie’s personification of the popular children’s doll cruised to the top of the charts, becoming one of only 50 films of all time to gross over $1 billion worldwide. 

This resounding success is thanks to several factors. Barbie reached meme status in the weeks leading up to its release as well as its tie to the concurrently aired World War II-era biopic, “Oppenheimer.” Millions took to theaters to view both back-to-back, in what was ultimately dubbed “Barbenheimer.” 

But the real reason Barbie is so popular is because Gerwig made what is a truly captivating movie. Is it silly and juvenile? Sure. But, Barbie also explores deep themes of femininity and existentialism—crafting a plot that is perfectly balanced between light-hearted and contemplative.  Along with a Ryan Gosling musical number, it’s a recipe for success. 

An Interesting Year in Film 

Barbie is going to pass Mario on the charts—everyone knows this. Still, it is worth pointing out that the two movies battling it out at the box office this year are an adaptation of an iconic video game and a revision of a massively popular children’s toy. This isn’t to take away from the value of these films, as both pose legitimate reasons for their success, bridging generational gaps in the process. “Super Mario Bros” provides an hour and a half of family fun in a vibrant, animated world with a Jack Black feature, while “Barbie” explores the surface of deeper themes and ideas all while set in a pink-laced dreamscape. 

Each movie took an iconic character and explored totally different avenues to create fresh content surrounding it, making for totally unique contributions to the scene. When compared to just last year where the top grossing films were “Avatar: The Way of Water” and “Top Gun: Maverick,” it is explicitly clear that 2023 will go down as one of the most intriguing years for film in quite some time based on the type of movies that top the charts alone. 

As Barbie cruises to the top, we have to wonder: Is this the start of a new type of popular film? One that takes something as basic as a child’s toy and expands upon it in a captivating way? A film adaptation of the 90s and early 2000s toy, Polly Pocket, is already in the works. We will just have to wait and see if there are more to follow.  

About the Author/s

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Peter Candia is the Food + Drink Editor at New Jersey Digest. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Peter found a passion for writing midway through school and never looked back. He is a former line cook, server and bartender at top-rated restaurants in the tri-state area. In addition to food, Peter enjoys politics, music, sports and anything New Jersey.

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