‘Barbie’ Even Drew Viewers Who Hadn’t Been to a Movie Theater Since Before COVID

A poll reveals 22% of patrons who saw the film hadn’t seen one in several years

Margot Robbie in "Barbie" (Warner Bros. Pictures)

“Barbie” is clearly a cultural phenomenon. It’s already made over $1 billion worldwide and the “Barbenheimer” double-feature was a cinematic event unlike anything the industry had seen in years. And the staggering figures keep getting more jaw-dropping, like how nearly a quarter of those who saw “Barbie” hadn’t been to the theaters since before COVID-19 forever altered our viewing habits.

The numbers come from The Quorum (as first reported by IndieWire) which stated that 11% of those who saw “Barbie” had not been to a movie theater since before the pandemic, while another 11% couldn’t recall the last time they had been to a movie theater, which probably means before the pandemic. (Or maybe they saw “Avatar: The Way of Water” at Christmas but forgot about it. It happens!)

These numbers mean that 22%, or slightly less than a quarter, hadn’t been to the movies before the pandemic, which shut down movie theaters across the globe in early March 2020.

This speaks to both the awesome power of Greta Gerwig’s ingenious adaptation of the beloved Mattel property and just how catastrophically the pandemic has upended our collective moviegoing traits. For nearly a quarter of viewers to simply have not been to the theater since before the pandemic is a staggering indication of how profoundly altered things have become. In the void of going to the movies, videogames, social media and streaming have swooped in. And clearly some people just prefer that.

“Barbie,” co-written and directed by Gerwig, has been No. 1 since its July 21 debut, alongside Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer.” In the next few days it’ll break through the $500 million domestic mark, something that only “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” has done in 2023. “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” didn’t even make it to $400 million domestic. And “Barbie” is showing no signs of slowing down, as it is tapped to be the No. 1 movie this weekend, too.