Greta Gerwig has broken the opening weekend record for a female director, solo or otherwise.
Her Barbie movie opened to an estimated $155 million at the North American box office over the July 21-23 weekend, a historic sum that easily surpasses the $100 million-plus domestic opening of Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman. In 2019, Captain Marvel also broke the glass ceiling when debuting at $153 million. That movie was co-directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.
Other stats: Barbie scored the top opening of the year to date, as well as one of the top openings since the pandemic, and it towered over Christopher Nolan’s male-skewing Oppenheimer this weekend. (Oppenheimer still did well in its own right for a three-hour historical drama in opening to $80.5 million).
Barbie‘s stunning start is a testament to Gerwig’s vision of bringing the world’s most famous fashion doll to the big screen, as well as to the marketing campaign orchestrated by Warner Bros. and toymaker Mattel.
The Barbie movie, starring Margot Robbie in the titular role and Ryan Gosling as Ken, has transformed into what is arguably the movie event of the year so far. Women of all ages and girls made up nearly 70 percent of the audience, according to exit surveys.
Barbie is Gerwig’s third feature after her acclaimed 2017 specialty film Lady Bird, which marked her solo feature directing debut and earned five top Oscar nominations, including best director and best feature. Lady Bird grossed $80 million at the global box office, a stellar number for an indie title. Gerwig’s next directing outing was Sony’s 2019 Little Women adaptation, which opened to $16.8 million domestically over the Christmas holidays on its way to earning a pleasing $218.8 million globally. Little Woman also earned Gerwig an Oscar nom for best director.
Barbie — which brings to life Mattel’s iconic fashion doll — is also strutting to big numbers in certain overseas markets for a projected international debut as high as $120 million and $380 or more globally.
In a defining moment for Hollywood’s gender problem, Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman grossed a winning $103.3 million in June 2017. Overseas, Wonder Woman also won the weekend with $125 million from 55 markets for a global bow of $228.3 million. (Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson, opened to $455 million globally.)
The previous record-holder for top opening for a solo female helmer before Wonder Woman was Sam Taylor-Johnson’s Fifty Shades of Grey, not adjusting for inflation. That film debuted to $93 million over the four-day Valentine’s Day/Presidents Day weekend in 2015, including a three-day haul of $85 million.
More to come.