Weekend Box Office

Weekend Box Office Results: Barbie Becomes Warner Bros.' Highest-Grossing Film Ever

Sony's Gran Turismo may have won the weekend, but Greta Gerwig's fantastical comedy hit a record-breaking milestone.

by | August 28, 2023 | Comments


Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie in Barbie (2023)

(Photo by ©Warner Bros.)

Sony pulled a fast one. Under the guise of the various strikes, they attempted to promote Gran Turismo with word of mouth from previews on the very weekend it was originally supposed to open, as the film was pushed from its Aug. 11 slot just two weeks from opening (or two weeks into the massive returns of Barbie and Oppenheimer). They shifted blame to the striking actors for its perceived lack of interest (i.e. tracking numbers were low) and moved it to Aug. 25, hoping to at least Blue Beetle itself a momentary headline if it finished No. 1 at the box office, and it worked.  Having said that, with National Cinema Day finishing off the weekend, perhaps an asterisk is in order, and the bigger story was the monumental achievement Greta Gerwig’s Barbie accomplished for Warner Bros.

King of the Crop: Gran Turismo Wins the Weekend, but It Wasn’t Pretty

Gran Turismo hoped for a start in the low 20s. Not only did it not get that and, technically, get beaten by Barbie in its sixth weekend, the $17.4 million it posted included numbers from those sneak previews it conducted over the past two weeks, which amounted to $3.9 million. Another $1.4 million came from its Thursday opening previews, but every studio does that. So with its thumb on the scale, pushing what was basically a $13.5 million weekend, Neil Blomkamp’s film got its No. 1 headline, but at what cost? Apart from Talladega Nights and a couple of the early Fast & Furious films concerned with racing, what are the films in this genre that have turned a profit? With two big names in Matt Damon and Christian Bale, James Mangold’s Ford v Ferrari opened to $31.4 million in 2019 on its way to a $117 million domestic gross, but that was more than it did internationally ($107 million) and it wound up in the red thanks to a near $100 million budget.

Can you name any other live-action racing film that opened to over $20 million? Technically Tom Cruise in Days of Thunder back in 1990 equates to about a $36 million opening today and a $193 million domestic haul. Inflation could also get Speed Racer and Need for Speed over that hump to $26 million and $23 million, but in real time there is no match, and those actually make the Gran Turismo numbers look worse. Even Herbie: Fully Loaded, with inflation, notches about a $19.8 million opening, and we have not even broken down Death Race, Driven, Rush, Redline, or the Burt Reynolds resume from 1981-83.

The one bright light for Gran Turismo could be its video game roots. Need for Speed is the only film on that list to turn a minor profit, and not because of its $43 million domestic haul, but for its $159.7 million international take on top of just a $66 million budget. Gran Turismo’s budget is being reported as a low $60 million. If true, that gives it a much lower threshold to jump if its numbers outside North America are as buoyant. It will take about $125-140 million overseas to turn this into a hit. As of this weekend, it stands with an additional $36 million on top of its domestic $17 million, but how quickly will the film fall off domestically? It was actually bested by Blue Beetle on Sunday and only beat it by about $10,000 on Saturday.

The Top 10 and Beyond: Barbie Becomes Highest-Grossing Film Ever for WB

Sony kept Greta Gerwig’s Barbie from making the rare return to the top of the box office after being momentarily knocked from its perch last week. (Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse managed the feat in its fourth weekend after a single week at the top in June. Congrats, Sony!) A fall to $15.1 million is the 15th-best sixth weekend in history. Top Gun: Maverick’s sixth shot is the second best all-time ($25.8 million), but it also came during the rah-rah push leading into a Monday edition of July 4th. Barbie passed The Super Mario Bros. Movie to become the highest-grossing film of 2023 this week, and at $592.8 million, it has the 9th-best 38-day total ever (still $28 million more than Maverick at the same point.) The only other films on that top 10 list besides Maverick to have a better sixth weekend were Black Panther and Avatar: The Way of Water. It would take a solid stretch through the fall season to make a run at $700 million, but $650 million domestic is very likely. At $1.342 billion, Barbie is now 17th on the all-time worldwide chart, passing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 as the highest-grossing film in Warner Bros.’ history.

Last week’s momentary champion, Blue Beetle, fell back to third place this week with $12.2 million. That brings its total to $46 million, which is ahead of the Total Recall remake of 2012. With a second weekend of about $4.7 million more, the DC comics film is headed somewhere north of $60 million, which is better than Shazam!: Fury of the Gods but lower than just about every other comic book film of the last 15 years. With just $35 million overseas, the $120 million production will be deep in the red for Warner Bros., which just moved Dune: Part Two from Nov. 3 to Mar. 14. Meanwhile, the studio’s Meg 2: The Trench fell only 25% to $4.8 million and has entered our initial projection for the film to finish between $72-82 million domestic. We altered the floor to $77 million last week and we’re putting the ceiling at $87 million this week. But as it has made over $278 million additionally overseas, the film is poised to become a small success story for Warner Bros.

Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer pulled in another $8.2 million this weekend, bringing its total just shy of the magic $300 million milestone. That elevates it above Inception to become the third highest-grossing domestic release of the filmmaker’s career. The film is outpacing the sixth weekends of many of its 38-day competitors, but based on its comparison to the first Iron Man, the film is headed north of $330 million and is currently at $778 million globally, and it does not even open in China until this Wednesday. Oppenheimer has achieved another unique placement in box office history though. There have only been 12 films to gross over $100 million that never spent a single week in the No. 1 spot. Some of those include We’re the Millers, The Good Dinosaur, Lightyear, Freaky Friday (2003), The Princess Diaries, and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. The $200 million club includes World War Z, A Star is Born (2018), Alvin and the Chipmunks, Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Squeakquel, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Until Oppenheimer, the animated Sing was the only film to gross over $250 million without getting that No. 1 headline. Oppenheimer now leads all of them and will soon be the only one to do it and get over $300 million. In related news, on Universal’s all-time chart, their re-release of Jurassic Park over the weekend grossed another $1.7 million from 1,224 theaters.

But in fifth place are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and their Mutant Mayhem. A small drop to $7.2 million has us altering its final domestic estimate, which we had in the low 100s. Now it looks to be in the vicinity of $115 million. Tropic Thunder had a $7.2 million fourth weekend and was at $96.5 million after 26 days. The Turtles at $99.2 million are also about $7 million ahead of where American Wedding was, which had a $5.4 million fourth weekend and finished with $104.5 million. However, that miniscule $35 million international haul still looms large, putting this in the category of good for U.S. theaters and not so great for Paramount. Also in that category is Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, which made $2.06 million to bring its domestic total to $168 million and nearly $550 million worldwide.

Big congratulations to Danny and Michael Philippou on the success of Talk To Me. The $4.5 million-budgeted film crossed $40 million this weekend after grossing another $2.09 million. One of the most successful films in the 10-year history of A24 has outgrossed M. Night Shyamalan’s Knock at the Cabin and should be passing The Boogeyman as well when it hits $43.2 million, which puts it in position to pass Ari Aster’s Hereditary and rank fourth on the studio’s all-time chart. Meanwhile, over at Disney, their comic horror film Haunted Mansion made $1.9 million to bring its total to $62.1 million domestic and just $91.6 million worldwide. It cost over $157 million, while Talk To Me cost $4.5 million and has made only $36 million less than Mansion globally. In other bad Disney summer news, they tried to boost The Little Mermaid’s domestic total by getting it into 1,600 theaters, but it grossed just $605,000. It still needs $2.2 million to reach $300 million, and its $568 million global total still has it well in the red. Even with a billion dollars between that and Elemental (now at $468 million worldwide), Disney could lose around $150 million combined on both.

Open Road (or Briarcliff or Global Road) attempted another release this weekend with The Hill, the faith-tinged true-life baseball story with Dennis Quaid. It opened to $2.5 million, continuing a remarkable streak for the studio, which has not had a film open to $4 million since Show Dogs in 2018. Only two of their releases since 2012 will have grossed more than what A24’s Talk To Me did this summer.

Open Road were also responsible for releasing the last three Liam Neeson vehicles, Honest Thief ($3.33 million opening, 39% on the Tomatometer), The Marksman ($3.78 million, 36%) and Blacklight ($3.5 million, 8%). Those were also pandemic releases of 2020-22, but a change of venue to Lionsgate did not help Neeson’s draw. Retribution, which literally keeps Neeson in a vehicle for the bulk of the film, got a 30% with critics and $3.5 million from the public. This is also Lionsgate’s sixth sub-$7 million opening in a row post-John Wick: Chapter 4, and only Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret grossed over $20 million.

Bleecker Street released Golda in 883 theaters this weekend — its 7th-widest opening since 2019 — and it resulted in their third biggest opening in that time. Unfortunately, that was just $1.7 million. The film’s $1,947 per-theater average is the studio’s best wide release PTA since Steven Soderbergh’s 3,000+ venue launch of Logan Lucky in 2017 resulted in a $2,507 PTA. Megan Leavey was the only other wide release from them to best Golda’s PTA, and that was $1,948.

Universal’s talking dog film Strays followed up its disappointing opening with another $4.9 million this weekend, bringing its total to $16.4 million. But there is a ray of light for R-rated comedy this week in the form of Emma Seligman’s Bottoms. UA Releasing/Orion platformed the film into just 10 theaters this weekend and grabbed $461,000. That makes for the fifth-best PTA of 2023 and just below last year’s Everything Everywhere All At Once, which opened to $509,659. Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is the only other film to be found that did better, back in 1980 when it opened to $622,337. The $11 million production expands to 700 theaters over Labor Day Weekend and we will likely see it in the top 10 next week.

On the Vine: Sony Looks to Denzel Washington and The Equalizer 3 for Salvation

Next week, Sony gets a legitimate crack at the No. 1 slot as it opens Denzel Washington in The Equalizer 3. The studio has decided not to screen the film for any press outside of NY and LA and withheld local press screenings altogether for 65, The Pope’s Exorcist, Big George Foreman, Love Again, The Machine, and Insidious: The Red Door. Only 3 of their 11 releases this year have received a Fresh rating on the Tomatometer.

Full List of Box Office Results: August 25-27, 2023

65% Gran Turismo: Based on a True Story (2023)

  • $17.4 million ($17.4 million total)

88% Barbie (2023)

  • $15.1 million ($592.8 million total)

78% Blue Beetle (2023)

  • $12.2 million ($45.7 million total)

93% Oppenheimer (2023)

  • $8.2 million ($299.2 million total)

95% Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (2023)

  • $7.2 million ($99.2 million total)

27% Meg 2: The Trench (2023)

  • $4.8 million ($74.1 million total)

53% Strays (2023)

  • $4.9 million ($16.4 million total)

29% Retribution (2023)

  • $3.5 million ($3.5 million total)

44% The Hill (2023)

  • $2.5 million ($2.5 million total)

37% Haunted Mansion (2023)

  • $1.9 million ($62.1 million total)

Erik Childress can be heard each week evaluating box office on Business First AM with Angela Miles and his Movie Madness Podcast.

[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]

Thumbnail image by ©Warner Bros.

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