Add Barbie to the list of heroes saving movie theaters. The Quorum conducted a poll of 1800 Barbie viewers to find out the moviegoing habits of that film’s audience. They learned that, while most were frequent or occasional ticket buyers, 22% of respondents said either that they couldn’t remember the last movie they’d seen before Barbie or that Barbie was the first time they’d been to a theater since the pandemic; the number was split in half between the two responses. Of that 22%, 40% said that Barbie “reminded [them] how much [they] like going to the theater” and they’ll be going more often now, while 45% said that because of the expense, it would take another event like Barbie to get them back; the final 15% said that Barbie was a one-time deal for them and they wouldn’t be back to the theater. The Quorum then did some division and found that about nine million people in the US returned to the theater after a long absence to see Barbie. (They also say that the average ticket price in America is $11, which seems like fantasy land where I live.) Like Spider-Man, Maverick, and Mario before her, Barbie got people otherwise uninterested in going to the theater to leave home for a movie again.
The reason behind this will probably be puzzled over by people trying to force it to fit their film theories, but I think the answer is fairly obvious: Barbie was a movie that appealed to its audience. Spider-Man: No Way Home, Top Gun: Maverick, and The Super Mario Bros. Movie all did the same and were handsomely rewarded for it, just as Barbie is being. It made Barbie fans want to venture out to see it. And it must have pleased a lot of people because it’s a legitimate phenomenon; this is anecdotal, but women I know who never talk about movies on social media were posting pictures of themselves at the theater in cosplay to see Barbie. A movie like that was almost guaranteed to cross the billion-dollar mark, and Barbie is on pace to be a bigger hit than The Super Mario Bros. Movie, at least in America. I’m sure Hollywood will learn all the wrong lessons from this – they’re already well on their way – but for now, they’ll make out like bandits.
Also on track to make big bucks from Barbie is its star and producer, Margot Robbie, who, according to Variety, is looking at raking in $50 million between her salary and back-end deals she has for a piece of the profits. Director Greta Gerwig is also expected to get a big payday, though the amount isn’t specified. And good for them; they’re responsible for the movie’s success more than anyone, and they were smart enough to negotiate lucrative deals for themselves. (Apparently, Robbie told Warner Bros. Barbie was guaranteed to make $1 billion; she bet on herself and won big.) The Hollywood Reporter says that Robbie, Gerwig, and Robbie’s co-star Ryan Gosling aren’t contracted to return for a sequel, and again, this is a brilliant move on their parts. You know who else wasn’t contracted for sequels? Robert Downey Jr., when he made Iron Man, and that allowed him to make $50 million from The Avengers while his superhero teammates with contracts got significantly less, and eventually as much as $75 million for Infinity War and Endgame (each). While I’m sure all three will use Barbie’s success to get some passion projects made, there will definitely be at least one Barbie sequel, and the director and stars will need a Scrooge McDuck vault to hold their money. I’m sure struggling theaters across the country would agree that they’ve earned it.