Greta Gerwig Breaks a Record for Female Directors at the Box Office with “Barbie”

Female Directors

Not only did “Barbie” smash the first weekend record for 2023, but it also did so for the first weekend of a female-directed movie.

According to studio totals released on Monday, “Barbie” surpassed both Patty Jenkins’ 2017 blockbuster “Wonder Woman,” which launched to $103.3 million, and “Captain Marvel,” which was co-directed by Anna Boden and debuted to $153.4 million in 2019. “Barbie” reportedly cost $145 million to make, which is less than “Captain Marvel” ($152 million) and “Wonder Woman” ($200 million).

Globally, it outperformed “Wonder Woman’s” opening with nearly $337 million compared to $228.3 million, while “Captain Marvel’s” $455 million global debut was greater.

It’s not a surprise in and of itself, but historically speaking, movies that open over $100 million frequently have a majority male audience (including both “Captain Marvel” and “Wonder Woman”), making “Barbie’s” debut, $7 million higher than estimated on Sunday, significant. This, many have commented, may not be so much a norm as it is the result of a dearth of major motion pictures created and advertised with a blockbuster female audience in mind.

“Fifty Shades of Grey,” which was directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson and earned $85 million in its first three days, provides a reasonable but not perfect analogy. The R-rated adaption debuted over Presidents Day weekend in 2017 and made $93 million in its first five days.

In terms of July debuts, “Barbie” surpassed Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises” (without accounting for inflation) and came in third place, just behind the live-action versions of “The Lion King” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.”

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