“Gran Turismo: Based on a True Story” and “Barbie” are in a dead heat for the box office crown, with the video game adaptation just edging Greta Gerwig’s pop sensation, according to studio estimates Sunday.
Sony Pictures reported that “Gran Turismo” opened with $17.3 million over the weekend, while Warner Bros. estimated that “Barbie,” in its sixth week of release, took in $17.1 million. Those totals could change when final ticket sales are counted Monday.
The weekend was also an usual one in multiplexes. U.S. movie theaters held the second annual National Cinema Day on Sunday, with $4 tickets to all films and showtimes at nearly all of the country’s theaters.
“Barbie” was expected to be the top draw during the discounted day, with a particular boost coming from repeat viewings. With a domestic total of $594.8 million in ticket sales, “Barbie” has passed “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” ($574 million) to become the year’s biggest domestic hit. With $1.34 billion worldwide, “Barbie” will also soon surpass the leading $1.35 million worldwide tally of “Mario."
National Cinema Day is meant to lure moviegoers to theaters during a typically slow period — and recoup the lost ticket revenue by selling a lot of popcorn. Last year's event drew 8.1 million moviegoers, making it the busiest day of the year in theaters.
Warner Bros. estimated that “Barbie” would gross $7.8 million on Sunday, which would mean almost 2 million people saw the film that day.
It's likely that “Barbie” is the weekend's top draw, but “Gran Turismo” has a slight — and somewhat debatable — edge in gross earnings. In its weekend totals for “Gran Turismo,” Sony was also factoring in a hefty $5.3 million from preview screenings held before Thursday.
Either way, it's a muted start for “Gran Turismo," which cost $60 million to make. But the film, about a young man whose love of the PlayStation video game helps turn him into a real-life racer, has gone over well with audiences. Moviegoers gave the Neill Blomkamp-directed movie an “A” CinemaScore.
Last week's top film, the DC Comics release “Blue Beetle,” slid to third place in its second week, with $12.8 million. The Warner Bros. film has made $46.3 million in two weeks, making it another misfire for DC.
Christopher Nolan's “Oppenheimer” trailed in fourth, with $9 million in its sixth week. Like its “Barbenheimer” sibling, the Universal Pictures release has played remarkably well beyond the point at which most films fall off in theaters. “Oppenheimer” has passed $300 million domestically and reached $777.1 million globally.
A handful of other new releases also hit theaters. MGM’s high school comedy “Bottoms” got off to a strong start in limited release, grossing an average of $51,600 per location in 10 theaters. The Liam Neeson thriller “Retribution" debuted with $3.3 million in 1,750 theaters for Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions.
“The Hill,” a sports drama starring Dennis Quaid, launched with $2.5 million from 1,570 locations for Briarcliff and Open Road. And “Golda,” starring Helen Mirren as the former Israeli prime minister, debuted with $2 million in 883 theaters for Bleecker Street.