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“Barbie” has officially passed $400 million at the domestic box office. The Greta Gerwig-directed blockbuster earned $11.8 million on Thursday to cross the milestone on Day 14. The $145 million-budgeted Mattel toy adaptation should pass $1 billion worldwide this weekend, perhaps as early as Friday. It has already soared past “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” to become this summer’s biggest global earner. Not a bad way to celebrate Gerwig’s 40th birthday.
‘Barbie’ is running ahead of ‘Super Mario Bros.’
With the caveat that “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” opened on a Wednesday, “Barbie” is already outpacing that video game adaptation. The Illumination/Universal toon had earned $366 million by Day 14 and $376 million by the Thursday before its third weekend. Presuming similar legs from this point onward, “Barbie” looks to soar to $640 million. That would be past the likes of “The Avengers” ($623 million) and “The Last Jedi” ($620 million). If it passes “Jurassic World” ($653 million), it’ll crack the all-time top 10. If it legs past “Top Gun: Maverick” ($719 million), it’ll be among the top five.
It’ll pass “Wonder Woman” ($413 million) on Friday to become Warner Bros.’ third-biggest domestic earner behind “The Dark Knight Rises” ($450 million) and “The Dark Knight” ($533 million). The Margot Robbie/Ryan Gosling comic fantasy is almost certain to become, sans inflation, WB’s biggest domestic hit ever.
In terms of worldwide earnings, it could/should pass the likes of “The Dark Knight” ($1 billion), “The Dark Knight Rises” ($1.05 billion) and “Aquaman” ($1.15 billion) within the next several days, putting it just below “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II ($1.345 billion) among WB’s biggest global hits. If it makes it past the final Harry Potter movie, it’ll also be above “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” ($1.35 billion) as 2023’s biggest global earner.
The picture continues to perform well above even the most optimistic expectations, again showing that Warner Bros. Discovery need not be entirely defined by DC Comics and J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World and again showing that big movies starring/for women can be as big as those starring/aimed at dudes. Whatever “lessons” Hollywood may have taken from “Top Gun: Maverick” last year, well, let’s see what lessons they take from “Barbie.”
“The Meg 2” is off to a slower start
Warner Bros. Discovery’s other new release, “The Meg 2: The Trench,” earned $3.2 million in preview grosses. That is below the $4 million Thursday total earned by “The Meg” in August of 2018. That initial Jason Statham vs. a shark actioner surprised by earning $45 million in its opening weekend, so hope springs eternal.
However, the reviews are almost uniformly negative (28% and 4.8/10 on Rotten Tomatoes), it’s been five years and all of the oxygen has been sucked up by Barbenheimer or the ongoing labor stoppages. Still, shark movies have a certain core appeal. See also: “Deep Blue Sea” and “The Shallow.” It’s questionable as to whether audiences will care whether critics love a movie featuring a beloved action star again facing off against various undersea monsters. The first “Meg” earned “just” 46% on Rotten Tomatoes and still vastly outperformed prerelease expectations.
Of course, if audiences don’t like it much more than critics, or if the Thursday figure is skewing toward a more frontloaded opening weekend (say closer to 13% of the weekend versus 10%), then we could see an opening closer to $25 million than $35 million. Considering the “folks were just curious the first time” factor with franchises of this nature, an opening weekend closer to $35 million than $25 million would arguably be a modest win.
The real action will be how the Chinese/Hollywood coproduction performs in China. “The Meg” earned $155 million in North America and $155 million in China for a $530 million global total. It is hoped that the inclusion of Chinese megastar Wu Jing in a costarring role will allow the film to buck the trend of poorly performing Hollywood tentpoles.