Barbie is now the highest grossing film of 2023. The results—$1.38 billion worldwide—passed the previous leader, The Super Mario Bros. Movie from Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures, according to a statement on Sunday from Warner Bros Discovery Inc., which released Barbie.
With no other films this year likely to draw as big an audience, it’s a record that will probably stand. The picture is already the highest grossing in Warner Bros.’ 100-year history.
Directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Margot Robbie, Barbie has become a cultural phenomenon with many fans dressing in pink to see the live-action take on Mattel Inc.’s famous fashion doll. It scored 88% approval on the review aggregator RottenTomatoes.com. Critic Brandon Collins, of Medium Popcorn, called Barbie a “hilarious and thought provoking film that made me examine my own biases.”
The movie came out on July 21, the same date as Universal’s Oppenheimer from director Christopher Nolan. The release schedule spurred a social media frenzy known as Barbenheimer that saw people race to theaters to see both pictures on the same day. The demand helped set box office records at chains including AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. and Vue International.
The two films helped lift the summer box office tally to $4.07 billion, just $283 million shy of the prepandemic level in 2019, according to Comscore Inc. data. Barbie finished in second place this weekend with $10.6 million in sales, behind the $34.5 million gross of The Equalizer 3, an action film from Sony Group. making its debut.
Barbie and Oppenheimer were among the last big-budget films that actors could promote before their union, the Screen Actors Guild, went on strike in mid-July. Actors have since been barred from attending premieres and participating in press interviews to discuss projects from Hollywood’s largest studios, a turn of events that could depress attendance for other films this year.
Some big films, including Warner Bros.’ upcoming Dune: Part Two, have had their debut dates pushed into next year.