20230806 barbie
Margot Robbie in a scene from 'Barbie.' Image Credit: AP

Barbie, Warner Bros.' hit movie based on the popular doll, crossed $1 billion in global box-office sales in its third week in release, becoming only the second picture to hit that mark this year, breaking a record for female directors that was previously held by Patty Jenkins, who helmed “Wonder Woman.”

Warner Bros. said on Sunday the movie took in $53 million in the US and Canada in its third week, as well as an additional $74 million internationally. The movie has now made $459.4 million domestically and crossed the $1 billion domestic benchmark on Sunday.

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The new tally makes Barbie the No. 2 film of the year behind The Super Mario Bros. Movie from Comcast Corp.'s Universal Pictures. That film, released in April, has taken in $1.35 billion in ticket sales.

In modern box office history, just 53 movies have made over $1 billion, not accounting for inflation, and “Barbie” is now the biggest to be directed by one woman, supplanting “Wonder Woman’s” $821.8 million global total. Three movies that were co-directed by women are still ahead of “Barbie,” including “Frozen” ($1.3 billion) and “Frozen 2” ($1.45 billion) both co-directed by Jennifer Lee and “Captain Marvel” ($1.1 billion), co-directed by Anna Boden. But, “Barbie” has passed “Captain Marvel” domestically with $459.4 million (versus $426.8 million), thereby claiming the North American record for live-action movies directed by women.

New competition came this weekend in the form of the animated, PG-rated “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” and the Jason Statham shark sequel, “Meg 2: The Trench,” both of which were neck-in-neck with Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer,” also in its third weekend, for the second-place spot.

“Meg 2” managed to sneak ahead and land in second place. It overcame its abysmal reviews to score a $30 million opening weekend from 3,503 locations. The Warner Bros. release, directed by Ben Wheatley, currently has a 29% critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes and a B- CinemaScore from audiences. The thriller was released in 3D, which accounted for 22% of its first weekend business.

Third place went to “Oppenheimer," which added $28.7 million from 3,612 locations in North America, bringing its domestic total to $228.6 million. In just three weeks, the J. Robert Oppenheimer biopic starring Cillian Murphy become the highest grossing R-rated film of the year (ahead of “John Wick Chapter 4”) and the sixth-biggest of the year overall, surpassing “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.”

“Oppenheimer” also celebrated a landmark, crossing $500 million globally in three weeks. Its worldwide tally is currently $552.9 million, which puts it ahead of “Dunkirk,” which clocked out with $527 million in 2017 and has become Nolan's fifth-biggest movie ever. It's now among the four top grossing biographies ever (company includes “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “The Passion of the Christ" and “American Sniper”) and the biggest World War II movie of all time.

Paramount’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” was close behind in fourth place with an estimated $28 million from 3,858 theaters in North America. Since opening on Wednesday, the film, which is riding on excellent reviews and audience scores, has earned $43.1 million.

Barbie is delivering a much-needed boost to the studio's parent, Warner Bros. Discovery Inc., along with theater chains including AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. and Cinemark Holdings Inc.. Directed by Greta Gerwig, the film stars Margot Robbie in the title role and Ryan Gosling as Ken.

The picture was produced in partnership with Mattel Inc., the toymaker that makes and sells Barbie dolls.

Mattel Chief Executive Officer Ynon Kreiz, who's seeking a larger role in entertainment for his El Segundo, California-based company, said in a July 27 interview with Bloomberg TV that it's too early to confirm a sequel.

The company is looking to "create film franchises that have cultural resonance," he said. "The opportunity for Barbie is pretty obvious given the success of the Barbie movie."

Barbie opened on July 21, the same weekend as Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer, creating a social media frenzy around the "Barbenheimer" meme.

"This shows that compelling stories that are well-executed and creatively marketed can capture the zeitgeist and get people excited," Gabelli Funds' analysts Hanna Howard and Paul Fanelli said an emailed statement.

The Barbie soundtrack, featuring songs by artists such as Lizzo and Dua Lipa, is also doing well for Warner Music Group, they said.