In just 17 days, the Margot Robbie starrer Barbie has crossed the $1 billion mark at the global box office. With this, director Greta Gerwig became the first solo female director to have a film in the prestigious billion-dollar club. The film is now the second-highest-grossing film of the year, coming up behind the Chris Pratt-starring animated film Super Mario Bros.
Barbie has beaten coveted IPs at the box office such as the Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol.3, The Little Mermaid, and Transformers: Rise of the Beasts. It also toppled The Flash, a highly anticipated film that bombed at the box office despite DCU co-CEO James Gunn’s claims that it was ‘one of the greatest superhero movies’.
From Barbenheimer To Barbillion
Greta Gerwig’s Barbie was released on July 21 along with Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. When the release dates were announced, the Internet had a field day, comparing the polar opposite nature of the two films. What started off as competitive releases, quickly became an example of excellent counter-programming where the public combined the films, making it a double feature event. Titled ‘Barbenheimer’, the Internet made memes and planned for a day in the cinemas watching both releases.
Barbenheimer was a massive success with over one-fifth of the audience booking tickets for both films. The double-feature cinematic event proved extremely successful for the theatrical business which had suffered a massive blow due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Both films collectively earned over a billion in the first two weeks of release, while Barbie outperformed Oppenheimer.
Within 17 days, Barbie has made a ‘Barbillion’ at the global box office. It is the fourth female director-driven film to gross a billion and is the only film with a solo female director to reach the coveted milestone. The other films that have earned this are Frozen, Frozen 2, and Captain Marvel, all of which have been co-directed by women.
Warner Bros., the studio which backed the film has been quite happy with the response. The film is also the quickest billion for the studio, breaking a 19-day record which was previously held by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Barbillion is a welcome event for the studio after they faced a terrible bomb at the box office in the form of The Flash.
Why Did The Flash Bomb At The Box Office?
After severe mismanagement, executive changes, canceled projects, and haphazard timelines, WB hired James Gunn and Peter Safran to head the new DCU wing and create a coherent shared universe. Gunn had directed The Suicide Squad and created its spin-off series, Peacemaker. Their vision of the DCU is set to start with the Gunn-directed Superman: Legacy and would move on to many films and shows. However, James Gunn still had to take care of a Flash-sized problem.
After multiple delays and changing screenwriters and directors, Ezra Miller’s The Flash finally found its director in Andy Muschetti. The director had proved his chops in the It franchise and was hired to make the film that had been in development since 2016. The film dealt with the multiverse storyline, taking inspiration from the classic comic Flashpoint. It was also revealed that Micheal Keaton, who played the first cinematic depiction of Batman in Tim Burton’s Batman would be returning for the film along with Ben Affleck, DCEU’s Batman.
Then came the multiple allegations, misbehavior, and arrests of star Ezra Miller. With new issues cropping up every week, it was evident that Miller could not continue playing the Flash. However, it was impossible to replace them in the already-shot film since they appeared in nearly every scene. A cancellation of the film would result in a bigger loss as the studio had already canceled the $90 million Batgirl movie. The studio then finally went ahead with the film after Miller publicly apologized for their behavior.
Despite favorable test screenings and studio insiders such as Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav calling it a good film, and Gunn calling it ‘one of the greatest superhero films ever made’, the film bombed at the box office. Apart from Miller’s bad press for the film, the reviews criticized its shoddy VFX. The film earned $268 million over a $220 million budget, making it one of the heaviest losses for WB. DCU CEO James Gunn has also mentioned that the film would be resetting the DCEU to make way for his shared universe.