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Move Over Super Mario Bros., Barbie Is The Biggest Box-Office Success Of 2023

The domestic box office has a new winner.

"Barbie" shows absolutely no signs of stopping its dominance at the box office. While many doubted the film's appeal when it was first announced, it's clear that nobody should bet against Greta Gerwig. The Warner Bros. pic, based on the Mattel doll of the same name, debuted to a whopping $162 million stateside back in mid-July. Thanks in part to the memes supporting the film, the project's viral marketing, and a playful rivalry with Christopher Nolan's "Oppenheimer," there was a cocktail of reasons why audiences graced multiplexes to see "Barbie" during its opening weekend.

It also helped that Gerwig, who co-wrote the film with her partner Noah Baumbach, managed to create another masterpiece. The film received unanimous praise, with Looper critic Dominic Griffin awarding the creative duo's meta, self-aware, and existential-heavy take on the doll an 8/10 rating. Audiences were clearly invested in Warner Bros.' vision of the doll as well, gifting it an A CinemaScore.

The momentum continued, especially internationally, as the film has now grossed over $710 million worldwide, with markets like Mexico, Germany, and Brazil raking in hauls north of $33 million. Stateside, the Margot Robbie-led film continues to make waves, with a domestic total standing just shy of $576 million, per The Wrap. That number is particularly significant, as it means "Barbie" has outgrossed Universal Pictures' "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" as the biggest movie of 2023, at least domestically. The animated film, based on Nintendo's plumber mascot, made a whopping $574 million when it debuted in April earlier this year. While many believed that the reign of "Mario" would last the entire year, the plumber has already been toppled by "Barbie," which became the highest-grossing film of the year on Thursday, its 34th day of release.

Why Barbie is a box office success

When the year started, many pundits and box office enthusiasts reckoned that "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" would emerge as one of the biggest films of the year. After all, it was corporate match made in heaven, pairing Illumination, the studio behind the "Despicable Me" franchise, alongside Nintendo's most popular character. With an all-star voice cast, "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" debuted to a whopping $146 million in April, legging its way to $570 million domestic haul in its tenth weekend.

"Barbie," meanwhile, will touch that goal during its upcoming sixth weekend. As impressive as "The Super Marios Bros. Movie" is — it's the highest-grossing film to be based on a video game, it's difficult to ignore just how monumental "Barbie" has been for both the culture and Warner Bros. The success of "Barbie" ultimately proves two things: Hollywood should bet big on diverse stories that cater to neglected demographics, and filmmakers should be given considerable freedom to tell their stories.

Greta Gerwig's "Barbie" stands tall as one of the few major blockbusters in recent years to cater to female-identifying audience members. 65% of the opening weekend viewership identified themselves as female — a staggeringly high number when one considers that most $100 million+ grossers typically cater to those who identify as male. Why did "Barbie" appeal to so many? Though it's obvious to suggest that the pre-recognition of the Barbie IP helped, it's evident that audiences are far more interested in what Gerwig has to say about the doll. The film has emerged as a true cultural phenomenon, allowing audiences around the world to meditate on the iconic toy's legacy, impact on the world, and missteps. In a world where our billion-dollar grossing projects tend to be action-heavy spectacles, "Barbie" is the rare blockbuster that asks audiences to think.

Can Barbie beat The Super Mario Bros.' worldwide total?

As it stands, "Barbie" has outgrossed "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" as the biggest domestic film of the year, trumping the Nintendo film's $574 million haul. Does "Barbie" have what it takes to pass the "Mario" film's worldwide total, which stands at $1.35 billion? While "The Super Mario Bros." is no longer the domestic champion of 2023, it still holds the title as the biggest film of the year... for now, at least.

"Barbie" boasts a worldwide total of $1.28 billion, meaning it's just a few dollars away from becoming the biggest film of the year. Seeing as "Barbie" continues to have stellar legs, it stands to reason that it'll outgross "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" in a matter of weeks. And while the consistent legs are there, Warner Bros. likely knows that the film's box office dominance is coming to an end soon. They've slated the picture to hit PVOD (Premium Video on Demand) on September 5, meaning repeat viewership will likely manifest at home rather than in cinemas. However, the studio does have plans to ensure that Greta Gerwig's billion-dollar grosser takes over "The Super Mario Bros. Movie."

Warner Bros. and Gerwig are sending "Barbie" to IMAX cinemas on September 22. The premium release will feature brand-new, never-before-seen footage during and after the film's credits — a proposition that should compel fans to head out for another rewatch. In a statement obtained by Deadline, Gerwig opened up about what it means to see "Barbie" in IMAX. "We made Barbie for the big screen, so it's a thrill to be able to bring it to Imax, the biggest screen of all," Gerwig wrote, teasing the new, exclusive footage for the format.

"Barbie" is playing in cinemas.