Greta Gerwig’s Barbie breaks a box office record for female directors

“Barbie” didn’t just break the opening weekend record for 2023; It also shattered the first weekend record for a film directed by a woman

Lindsey Bahr
Tuesday 25 July 2023 07:32 BST
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Barbie didn’t just break the opening weekend record for 2023... it also shattered the first weekend record for a film directed by a woman.

With $162m in ticket sales from North American theaters, according to studio totals Monday, Barbie catapulted past both Captain Marvel, which was co-directed by Anna Boden and opened to $153.4m in 2019, and Wonder Woman, Patty Jenkins’ 2017 film that debuted to $103.3 million.

Boasting a reported price tag of $145m, “Barbie” also cost less to produce than “Captain Marvel” ($152m) and “Wonder Woman” ($200m).

Globally, it also far surpassed “Wonder Woman’s” debut with over $337m versus $228.3m, though “Captain Marvel’s” global launch was higher at $455m.

“Barbie’s” debut is also significant because its audience was 65% women — not a surprise in and of itself, but as far as box office history is concerned, movies that open over $100m often have a majority male audience (including both Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman).

This, many have noted, is perhaps less a rule and more of a lack of big films that have been made and promoted with a blockbuster female audience in minds.

Gerwig co-wrote and directed Barbie which is intended to be the first of many Mattel-inspired spinoffs. And in just one weekend it’s already surpassed the domestic grosses her last two films, Little Women, which earned $108.1 million and Lady Bird, with $49 million.

Now it’s a question of how high Barbie can go and if it can outgross other top films directed by women. In North America, to get the No 1 spot, Barbie will have to earn more than Frozen II, co-directed by Jennifer Lee, which tallied out with $477.4m. Captain Marvel is in second place with $426.8m.

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