Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie has been a long time coming, and it’s easily become one of 2023’s biggest theatrical releases. The film, which stars Margot Robbie as the titular character, has been in development for years. But it wasn’t until recently that the project really started to take shape.
Earlier this year, Warner Bros. announced that the film would be released on July 21, 2023. And in the time since, the film has only continued to generate more and more excitement with a recent release on digital as well as a re-release planned for IMAX starting September 22.
Nostalgic, fun, and also feminist, the movie’s message resonates with both men and women. So, how did the Barbie movie manage to go this far and create this much hype around the movie Here’s a breakdown of the budget that definitely includes the incredible marketing campaign for the film.
The Barbie Movie’s Original Budget
Director Greta Gerwig revealed that the original budget for the Barbie movie was around $100 million. But over time, the budget steadily increased to approximately $145 million. For comparison, Gerwig’s previous films, like Lady Bird and Little Women, had budgets of $10 million and $40 million, respectively. In contrast, the budget of the Barbie movie was incredibly steep.
As a rule of thumb, a movie is a box office success if it can make two to three times its budget. In this case, the Barbie movie needed to gross at least $300 million to become a box office hit.
The film exceeded the initial box office forecasts that predicted making $90-$100 million at first. In its first Friday, the Barbie movie brought in $70 million. This also included the $22 million from the Thursday previews. After the opening weekend, the Barbie movie brought in around $155 million.
By Monday, the Barbie movie reportedly exceeded the estimates and made $162 million in its opening weekend. In the second weekend of its release, the film earned another $93 million, making it the largest second weekend ever for Warner Bros. In fact, the Barbie movie would be the seventh-largest second weekend overall for any studio.
Also worthy of note, Gerwig now holds the title of the biggest opening weekend box office earnings by a female filmmaker ever.
Globally, the Barbie movie has earned $1.34 billion at the box office, becoming the second movie this year after The Super Mario Bros. Movie.
The Barbie Movie Cast
Part of what made the Barbie movie so great for fans was the casting of all the Barbies and Kens. While it’s not publically known what cut Gerwig had from making the film, we do know how much the two leads received. Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling reportedly received $12.5 million each for their performances.
For comparison, in Birds of Prey, Robbie reportedly received “eight figures up front.” Some sources estimated that amount to be around $10 million. Because Robbie was also a producer for the DC Comics film, she had the potential to get a much larger payout.
As of August 2023, Variety reported that Robbie will end up earning $50 million in her salary and box office bonuses. This is similar to what Tom Cruise earned from Top Gun: Maverick, which premiered in 2022.
For Gosling, Barbie is a sizable addition to his net worth. A big portion of his overall net worth comes from the success of the Academy Award-winning La La Land. There was also his role in The Gray Man, which he earned $20 million from, along with the paycheck of $7 million from The Nice Guys.
It wouldn’t be a Barbie movie without the numerous clothes to style the most iconic doll. One might go as far as to say the clothes were characters themselves, as many of them were recreations of actual Barbie outfits from across the decades.
Barbie movie costume designer Jacqueline Durran told Vogue that there was an extensive process in creating the movie’s wardrobe. The film’s buyers were always out in London on the search for clothes in specific colors, having looked through multiple shops. Durran even revealed that they looked into the fashion house’s archives, unearthing suits, beachwear, sportswear, and accessories.
There was also a particular focus on 1980s pieces for the film’s wardrobe. Durran said that if there was something that didn’t fit the size and color they wanted, they remade the pieces to match the aesthetic. It should be noted that the archival fashion pieces have a lot of value due to age, condition, and the designer who made them.
There were also expenses incurred for hiring people to source these items and the costs of remaking the pieces to fit the movie’s look.
The Marketing Campaign
A sizable amount of the budget for the Barbie movie went into its massive marketing campaign. According to Variety, the rival studio executives said that the marking expenses for the film were likely at around $150 million. That doesn’t include the accounting for the $145 million production budget either.
The marketing team at Warner Bros. went to great lengths to get the Barbie movie everywhere. Since they revealed the first photo preview of the Barbie movie at CinemaCon, the marketing team pulled out all the stops. This even included creating a website that allowed fans to create their own Barbie posters. They even launched the Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge on HGTV and collaborated with insurance firm Progressive.
They even made a life-sized replica of Barbie’s Malibu dream house in partnership with Airbnb.
Additionally, one can’t ignore the power held by social media due to the buzz surrounding the film, which played a massive part in the Barbie movie’s success. From influencer collaborations as well as the supposed Barbenheimer competition (as Oppenheimer released on the same date), the buzz and comparisons only resulted in more hype.
Other Notable Achievements
The Barbie movie went on to further achieve more milestones, adding to its success. The film surpassed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3‘s opening of $118 million and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse which earned $120.6 million.
The Barbie movie also became the highest domestic opening of 2023 so far, surpassing The Super Mario Bros. Movie. The film earned $162 million compared to the $146 million of The Super Mario Bros. Movie.
“It’s a fantastic result, a reflection of a marketing strategy done right,” BoxOfficePro VP of content strategy and editorial director Daniel Loria told Insider.
“That is just such a very different approach from a company where its prior ownership put all of its movies out on its streaming platform on the same day when it was owned by AT&T,” said Loria, referring to his conversation with WB executive vice president Jeff Goldstein about the marketing campaign.
Even as the Barbie movie continues to rake in success, there’s also the incredible Oppenheimer movie by Christopher Nolan. The film was also a massive success and a stark contrast to the fun and colorful Barbie movie. Oppenheimer has made over $912 million worldwide.