erik lundegaard

Monday July 24, 2023

Box Office: 'Barbie' Shatters the Glass Ceiling

Yesterday I was returning from the Olympic peninsula on a mid-morning ferry loaded with Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays fans arriving way early for the 1:10 game; but I also noticed a few women and girls glitzed up in pink and shiny baubles and taking selfies. I figured—unless they were arriving super early for the evening's Taylor Swift show—that they were heading downtown to see Greta Gerwig's “Barbie,” starring Margot Robbie. Indeed, that's why I was traveling alone. My wife stayed behind an extra day to see the film with her sister-in-law at the Rose Theater in Port Townsend. Her toenails were painted pink in honor.

So I got some sense of the groundswell of support before finding out, via Box Office Mojo, that “Barbie” topped the weekend with a $162 million haul. That's the 20th-best ever, unadjusted, and fourth-best since the pandemic all but destroyed the movie-theater industry—while the three ahead of it are the usual super-powered suspects: Spidey, Doctor Strange and Wakanda. Which, right, makes “Barbie” the biggest opener of the year. It did what Harrison Ford, Tom Cruise, The Little Mermaid, Flash and Transformers couldn't: Got people to the movie theater in droves.

As for the other half of the “Barbenheimer” weekend? Chris Nolan's “Oppenheimer” opened to $82 million. Some IMAX shows are sold out until August. 

All of which is good news for people like me who like watching movies in theaters, and who wouldn't mind something besides superhero movies now and again.

I'd love to see how the opening weekend of “Oppenheimer” stacks up against other biopics, or against other films with a 3-hour runtime. You used to be able to get that kind of info on Box Office Mojo. Then Amazon bought it and enshittified it. Now it's a battle to just find all-time opening weekends. (For the record: Go to the “All-Time” tab, then the “Weekend Records” tab, and it's the third one down—but after “Biggest Second Weekend Drops” and “Largest Post-Thanksgiving Weekend Drops.” That's right, they alphabetized it. Because who doesn't want to know which movies performed poorly the weekend after Thanksgiving weekend? That's like a weekly conversation for me.) 

In third place with $19.8 million is the third weekend of “Sound of Freedom,” that right-wing, anti-Hollywood Angels Studio production starring a blonde-haired Jim Caviezel in “the incredible true story of a former government agent turned vigilante who embarks on a dangerous mission to rescue hundreds of children from sex traffickers,” per IMDb. It's done gangbusters business, thus far outdoing Cruise's seventh(?) turn as Ethan Hunt: $124 million in three weeks vs. $118 in two. Cruise came in fourth: $19.3. Rounding out the top 5: “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” with $6.6 mil for a $158 domestic total.   

It is pretty amazing what three days of “Barbie” has already walloped: Not just four weeks of Indy and two of Ethan but the domestic runs of “Creed” ($156), “Transformers” ($155), “Fast X” ($145), and “The Flash” ($107). The Old Boys Club ain't what it used to be. 

Posted at 07:08 PM on Monday July 24, 2023 in category Movies - Box Office  
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