While you were sleeping, the dreary Batcave located in Warner Bros.’ tower got overhauled by Barbie, was painted hot pink, and now rains nothing but iridescent green cash as it takes over domestic ticket sales for the production polymath.
If you are familiar with the pantheon of Warner Bros. movies, you know The Dark Knight has been their supreme ticket seller in the States for years. It sold more tickets at the US box office than anything in the Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, or The Matrix franchises.
And now, a supposed “chick flick” has pimp-slapped Batman off the mountaintop.
Christopher Nolan‘s majestic take on The Joker’s onslaught of Gotham City earned $536M at the US box office in 2008. It rested high atop 4000 Warner Blvd. in Burbank, California ever since. And then Great Gerwig comes along with a salmon utopia, Barbie, and earned $537.5M as of this week. Worldwide, the surprisingly complex and meaningful film has entertained the masses multiple times raking up more than $1.2B at the box office.
Experts have slated The Super Mario Bros. as its next victim to become the highest-grossing movie of 2023 when it surpasses the Universal Studios’ blockbuster at $1.35B in a couple of weeks. More importantly for Warner Bros., if Barbie keeps this Flash-speed pace up, it will leave the studio’s top money-earner in the magical dust — 2011’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 when it made $1.34 billion globally.
But, if you think money is why this movie was made, you may be surprised in other ways.
Barbie’s Purpose is More Than Some Passionate Pink Power
Since July 21, the globe has turned into a bubblegum ball of blond and pink becoming the first-ever billion-dollar feature film for the newly amalgamated Warner Bros. Discovery. Yes, not even DC Studios could do that. With a staggering $155 million opening weekend in the US, WBD knew they had a juggernaut in stilettos on its case, but no one saw this coming.
Well, a few people did.
There is an interesting editorial from Temple University’s College of Liberal Arts that focuses on two profound reasons why Barbie is shredding all forethoughts about this film’s performance and why it will become an all-time classic.
The centrality of marketing in the Barbie universe does not undermine the wide range of important meanings that Barbie has for her audience—both doll owners and filmgoers. Meaning is a complex negotiation between creators and the audience, and no one is better at making meaning than kids playing with toys.
Whatever stories that Barbie’s inventor Ruth Handler might have had for the doll, whatever stories Mattel may have added over the years, and whatever stories that Greta Gerwig might introduce in the new film, the Barbie fans will always have the ultimate say over what Barbie means to them.Dustin Kidd, Ph.D., Temple Professor of Sociology
Not that she needs a reason to be this successful, but Barbie has a reason for being this successful. It’s not what she is but rather who.
Margot Robbie plays Barbie as a fierce woman who is fearless and going out in the real world. Barbie represents how women can do anything now. For young women, it’s saying they can be anything they want to be with hard work and perseverance. The movie is a feminist masterpiece—Barbie represents female empowerment, women being fearless.Sheri Martin, Ph.D., Temple Professor of Marketing and Business
Movies create themes, ideas, and fantasies about reaching the achievements of man and surpassing the ideologies of mankind. It’s always been this way.
Maybe Barbie shows us one sterling fact that has been ignored for too long – that vision is too nearsighted because this “chick flick” shattered that glass ceiling and has readjusted whatever WBD thinks is possible.
See you soon for Barbie 2 as “pink power” will reign supreme, again.