Aug 7, 2023, 6:51am EDT

Barbie hit $1 billion at the box office, beating Hollywood’s expectations

A general view of the world premiere of the film "Barbie" in Los Angeles, California, U.S., July 9, 2023. REUTERS/Mike Blake
REUTERS/Mike Blake

Sign up for Semafor Flagship: The daily global news briefing you can trust. Read it now.

Title icon

The News

The Barbie movie surpassed $1 billion at the box office, 17 days after its release.

Greta Gerwig is the first solo female director to hit the milestone, and executives with Warner Bros., which produced the blockbuster, told The New York Times that no movie in its history has sold so many tickets so quickly.

We’ve collected key insights you should read about the film and its success. A warning: Some light spoilers ahead.

Title icon


  • The film’s success at the box office subverts a long-held Hollywood notion. For decades, executives have bet that films which center women do not perform well for audiences. Women-focused movies are often “undervalued” by movie executives, Ana-Christina Ramón, who has authored studies about Hollywood hiring practices, said in a recent interview. But Barbie isn’t the first such movie to break Hollywood’s expectations: Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, and Frozen were all huge hits at the box office. — The New York Times
  • International ticket sales have outperformed U.S. sales to bring Barbie to the billion-dollar club. The film grossed $459 million domestically and $572 million in international markets as of Sunday, according to data from Warner Bros. In China, the film has been a sleeper hit, the Times reports. It’s a rare movie to hit at issues of women’s independence in the nation, and comes at a time when awareness about feminism and women’s rights is growing in China.
  • Barbie offers several strategic lessons, war historian Lawrence Freedman writes in “a strategic analysis of Barbie" for his newsletter. Strong coalitions are crucial. Meanwhile, indirect means — non-violence and confusion — prop the Barbies up agains the Kens and help them win their civil war. “Put simply the Barbies are able to get away with their deception because they understand the Kens better than the Kens understand the Barbies.”
Title icon

Know More

Star Margot Robbie reportedly expected Barbie‘s high earnings potential in early meetings with execs. “I think I told them that it’d make a billion dollars, which maybe I was overselling, but we had a movie to make,” she told Collider in July.

Neither Robbie’s nor Gerwig’s contracts included provisions for a sequel, the Hollywood Reporter notes, so it’s not yet clear if a Barbie 2 would hit screens in the future.