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Sublime! ‘Barbie’ tops $1 billion globally in first for solo woman director

By AFP - Aug 08,2023 - Last updated at Aug 08,2023

LOS ANGELES — Hollywood’s pink wave has yet to crest as Warner Bros.’ “Barbie” dominated for a third straight weekend in North American theatres, pushing the film’s global haul past $1 billion in a first for a solo woman director, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations said on on Sunday.

The Greta Gerwig-directed blockbuster has tapped into a cultural zeitgeist: not only did it make history by hitting the billion-dollar box office milestone, it also did so faster than any film — including those directed by men — in Warner Bros.’ 100-year history, executives there said. 

The film, which earlier scored the biggest opening weekend of the year, “has captured the imagination of moviegoers around the world and the results are incredibly impressive”, analyst Paul Dergarabedian of Comscore said.

Starring Margot Robbie as iconic doll Barbie and Ryan Gosling as boyfriend Ken, the movie earned a projected $53 million for the Friday-through-Sunday period, for a domestic total of $459 million and a whopping $1.03 billion worldwide.

Co-written by Gerwig and her partner Noah Baumbach, it follows Barbie as she contends with her woman-led, pink-plastered fantasyland becoming infected with real world problems, in a comic self-aware commentary on the dolls’ decades-old cultural significance.

A supporting cast including Will Ferrell, Kate McKinnon and America Ferrera add even more star power to the film, while its soundtrack includes new songs by chart toppers Dua Lipa, Lizzo and Nicki Minaj — as well as a surprise hit in “I’m Just Ken”, the power ballad sung in the film by Gosling.

“Barbie” is only the sixth film to surpass $1 billion at the box-office since the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Variety.

Falling to third place was Universal’s “Oppenheimer”, the dark historical drama whose opening the same week as “Barbie” sparked the massive “Barbenheimer” social media trend.


‘Oppenheimer’ becomes top-grossing WWII film


It was bumped by Warner Bros. newcomer “Meg 2: The Trench”, an action sequel in which Jason Statham tries to survive attacks by gargantuan prehistoric sharks.

“Meg 2” pulled in $30 million for the weekend, while Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” earned $28.7 million to push its global total to $552 million.

That total made the story about the creation of the atomic bomb the all-time top grossing World War II film, ahead of Nolan’s own “Dunkirk” ($527 million) and Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” ($482 million), not adjusted for inflation, according to Hollywood Reporter.

Fourth place for the weekend went to “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem”, the latest in the franchise about a team of reptilian heroes in a half shell. The Paramount animated comedy, featuring the voices of Jackie Chan and Post Malone, brought in $28 million.

Disney release “Haunted Mansion” slid two spots to fifth, with the lavishly produced kid-centric film — starring LaKeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish and Owen Wilson — earning $8.9 million.

Holding its own in sixth was the independent “Sound of Freedom”, from Santa Fe Films and Angel Studios, at $7 million. The low-budget action thriller has sparked controversy, with critics saying its story about child sex trafficking plays into Qanon conspiracy theories.

All in all, it was an exceptional weekend for Hollywood, with the top four films all raking in $28 million or more — though whether the industry can sustain that momentum in the face of a historic writers’ and actors’ strike remains to be seen.

Not only did the top films come close to doubling the total from the same weekend last year, they surpassed the corresponding pre-pandemic weekend in 2019, analysts said.

As Ken might have said — in a line reportedly ad-libbed by Gosling in “Barbie” — the weekend was “Sublime!”

Rounding out the top 10 were “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part 1” ($6.4 million), “Talk to Me” ($6.2 million), “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” ($1.5 million) and “Elemental” ($1.2 million).

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