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Global box office takings make Barbie the biggest film of 2023

Margot Robbie in 'Barbie'
Margot Robbie in 'Barbie' Copyright Warner Bros.
Copyright Warner Bros.
By Jonny Walfisz
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It’s official, Barbie is the biggest film of the year so far. As of this week, the fantastic plastic film has pipped the global box office earnings of the Super Marios Bros. Movie.

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Barbie has now made $1.38 billion (€1.28 billion) at the global box office. The Margot Robbie-helmed film has overtaken the $1.36 billion (€1.27 billion) takings for the Super Mario Bros. Movie.

It’s a good day for cinemas in general with the dual marketing of Barbie and Oppenheimer pushing the US’s box office figures past the $4 billion (€3.72 billion) total for the year, a significant jump from 2022’s total figure of $3.4 billion (€3.16 billion).

Speaking of Oppenheimer, the 3-hour long biopic of the man who invented the atom bomb is the third biggest film of the year. The Christopher Nolan film has made $853 million (€794 million) at the box office. While Nolan is a huge name in contemporary cinema, it’s still an impressive feat for a film without the backing of franchise IP.

The Barbenheimer cinematic event that started when social media users found the shared release day of both films has seemingly helped both films to score big figures at the box office. A rising tide lifts all boats, it seems.

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for data firm Comscore, called it “a touchstone moment for movies, moviegoers and movie theatres.”

“Having two movies from rival studios linked in this way and both boosting each other's fortunes — both box-office wise and in terms of their profile — I don't know if there's a comp for this in the annals of box-office history," said Dergarabedian. “There's really no comparison for this.”

Scott Garfitt/Invision
Writer/director/executive producer Greta Gerwig poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'Barbie' on Wednesday, July 12, 2023, in London.Scott Garfitt/Invision

From Little Women and Lady Bird’s Greta Gerwig, Barbie has already made history as the first film solely directed by a woman to break the $1 billion mark. Frozen, Frozen 2 and Captain Marvel are the three films co-directed by women that have surpassed that mark. With box office takings of $1.45 billion (€1.35 billion), Frozen 2 is the only film directed by a woman to take more than Barbie.

Whether this bumper year for blockbusters will continue remains to be seen. The impact of the dual SGA-AFTRA/WGA strikes is likely to impact the release schedule for some of the films expected to bring in big returns. Denis Villeneuve’s highly anticipated Dune: Part II is one of the biggest titles to already face a delayed release schedule as studios fail to reach an agreement with the Hollywood creative unions.

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