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Magic of 'pink' publicity campaign? Barbie creates history at box office

Barbie has outperformed Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, which earned $24.5 million on its opening day in 2008

barbie movie, barbie, barbie box office collection

Nandini Singh New Delhi
Greta Gerwig’s plastic, fantastic 'Barbie' is unstoppable at the moment, with the pink-infested fever dream earning another $26.1 million at the domestic box office on Monday, which is also the biggest Monday in Warner Bros history.

Not just this, Barbie also outperformed Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, which earned $24.5 million on its opening day in 2008.

There aren't enough words to describe how much of a phenomenon and box office sensation Barbie — and indeed, Nolan's Oppenheimer — has become.

Over the weekend, it made history by opening with an impressive $162 million at the domestic box office revenue — a feat typically associated with male-centric superhero films or major intellectual properties like Warner Bros' final Harry Potter installment. Furthermore, the film's exceptional opening marked the highest ever for a female director.

Meanwhile, Gerwig had earlier revealed that the original budget for the film was around $100 million. However, it steadily grew to $145 million over time. When compared to Gerwig's budgets for her previous films, Lady Bird ($10 million) and Little Women ($40 million), Barbie presents a higher financial step for the director.

Huge 'Barbie' salary

While Gerwig's exact salary is unknown, the film's lead actors, Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, are each earning an impressive $12.5 million for their roles in Barbie.

In her previous film, Birds of Prey, Robbie reportedly earned "eight figures up front," which some sources estimate to be around $10 million, and she had additional earning potential as a producer.

According to reports, Gosling's earnings have been boosted significantly by the success of the Oscar-winning film La La Land.

Another significant film in his career was The Grey Man, which earned him $20 million. He also received a six-figure salary for his role in The Nice Guys, reported Variety.

Dressing Barbie

Fashion is very important in the world of Barbie.

In an interview with Vogue, costume designer Jacqueline Durran stated that the process of creating the film's wardrobe was quite extensive.

Buyers were sent to London on a daily basis to scour numerous shops for clothing in specific colours. They even went into the fashion house's archives and discovered suits, beachwear, sportswear, and accessories from the 1980s. They remade anything that didn't perfectly fit the desired size or colour to match the Barbie aesthetic, Durran stated.

It's also important to note that archival fashion pieces are extremely valuable due to their age, condition, and the designer who created them, and can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

There were also costs associated with hiring people to source these pieces, as well as the costs of remaking them to fit the Barbie-inspired look. 

Barbie’s pink publicity campaign

Barbie's massive and costly marketing campaign, which aims to attract audiences with its cotton candy-colored fantasy world, is yielding positive results.

According to Variety, rival studio executives estimate that marketing costs alone are around $150 million, not including the $145 million production budget. The marketing team at Warner Bros has been working nonstop to make 'Barbie' an irresistible and ubiquitous summer sensation.

Since releasing the first photo preview of Barbie at CinemaCon, which featured Robbie as the titular Barbie driving her Corvette in Barbieland, studios have gone all out with their marketing strategies, employing a variety of creative and unexpected approaches.

They've created a website enabling fans to create personalised Barbie posters, launched HGTV's Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge, collaborated with unlikely partners like the insurance company Progressive, and even unveiled a massive life-size replica of Barbie's Malibu dream house in collaboration with Airbnb. It's clear that they're going above and beyond to promote the film.

However, organic marketing ultimately paved the way for Barbie's steady rise to success. The Barbie movie has been included in numerous conversations and engagements among potential audiences, thanks to social media platforms such as Twitter and TikTok, as well as Barbenheimer's presence, generating further curiosity and excitement.

How much money did Barbie need at the box office to break even?

Gerwig revealed in an interview with The New York Times that the film's original budget was around $100 million. However, it steadily increased to $145 million over time. A film is generally considered a box office success if it earns two to three times its budget. To achieve this status, Gerwig's film will need to gross at least $300 million. 

How is Barbie doing at the box office?

Barbie has far surpassed initial box office projections of $90 million to $110 million. The film has been a smashing success, grossing an impressive $70 million on Friday, which includes $22 million from Thursday previews. By the end of its first weekend, it had amassed a staggering estimated total of $155 million. 

With this outstanding performance, Gerwig has set a new record for the highest opening weekend earnings for a female filmmaker. 

By Monday, it was reported that the film outperformed expectations, grossing $162 million in its opening weekend. Barbie's fame knows no bounds and transcends national boundaries. Barbie currently has a global success of $337 million.

Barbie wins box-office crown

While the iconic Barbie earned a staggering $22.3 million on its opening night, it has surpassed both Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3, which earned $17.5 million in previews, and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse ($17.4 million), making it the winner in a head-to-head comparison.

Barbie also secured the top spot for the highest domestic opening of the year so far, outshining The Super Mario Bros, which had a $146.4 million opening weekend.

Not only that, but Barbie dethroned The Super Mario Bros for the highest-grossing day in 2023, with an impressive $70.8 million to Mario's $54.8 million. As previously stated, the film also had the largest opening weekend for a film directed by a woman, surpassing Captain Marvel's opening weekend of $153.4 million.

Meanwhile, Christopher Nolan's magnum opus, Oppenheimer, which delves into the fascinating world of theoretical physics and atomic bombs, is also not to be underestimated. It earned a stellar $10.5 million in previews.

Despite the Cillian Murphy-led period drama grossing an impressive $174 million worldwide, it was the Margot Robbie-led feature that stole the show, becoming the undisputed champion with a whopping $337 million worldwide and shattering numerous records during its opening weekend.

As predicted, Gerwig's comedy has far outpaced Nolan's complex drama with a significant lead. These two films, however, have no rivalry or animosity between them. The Barbenheimer double feature has a magical hold on audiences of all types, attracting overlapping demographics, and both films have had massive box office success in their own right.

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First Published: Jul 26 2023 | 7:44 PM IST

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