Greta Gerwig Makes History as “Barbie” Becomes Biggest Opening Weekend Ever For Female Director

It turns out that following your fear can result in you making history.

Co-writer/director Greta Gerwig told one of her Barbie stars, Dua Lipa, that the idea of creating a feature film out of the iconic Matell doll terrified her. “It was something that was exciting because it was terrifying,” she said on Dua Lipa’s podcast At Your Service. “It felt like vertigo, starting to write it, like: ‘Where do you even begin, and what would be the story?’ And I think it was that feeling I had, knowing that it would be really interesting terror. Usually, that’s where the best stuff is, where you’re like, ‘I am terrified of that.’ Anything where you’re like, ‘This could be a career-ender — then you’re like, ‘I should probably do it.’”

Now, after Gerwig did it, Barbie‘s astonishing $155 million opening weekend has become the largest premiere weekend ever for a female director.

Barbie launched Gerwig past Captain Marvel co-director Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, which opened in 2019 with $153. Gerwig now also holds the title for sole female director over Patty Jenkins, who had that title with her $103 opening for 2017’s Wonder Woman. 

Barbie was the weekend’s highest-grossing film, but we’re guessing by now you know it was part of a two-film bonanza, along with Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, which lead to a momentous weekend at the box office. The “Barbenheimer” phenomenon helped notch the fourth-biggest weekend of all time at the domestic box office, with Oppenheimer hauling in a very impressive $80.5 million. What makes the Barbenheimer feat even more intriguing—and delightful—is that the top three weekends at the box office were all led by massive franchises, either debuts or sequels—Avengers: Endgame helped turn an April weekend in 2019 into the all-time top-grosser at $402 million collectively, Avengers: Infinity War fueled an April weekend the previous year to $314 million collectively, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens generated a $313 million collective weekend in December 2015.

Barbie isn’t just the biggest opening weekend for a female director ever; in fact, it also now has the biggest opening weekend of the year, vaulting over The Super Mario Bros., which opened to $146 million.

Barbie became a phenomenon for several reasons—the allure of a top-flight director and star-studded cast (led by Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling) taking on an iconic piece of Americana, a genius marketing campaign, and a stellar reception from critics and crowds. All of that, and a filmmaker taking on a project that scared her, has led to a historic weekend at the box office.

Barbie is, of course, in theaters now.

For more on Barbie, check out these stories:

New “Barbie” Album Trailer Unveils Nicki Minaj & Ice Spice’s “Barbie World” Track & Many More

“Barbie” Review Round-Up: Stellar Performances in a Soulful, Bananas, & Ambitious Summer Splash

Believe in Barbenheimer: “Barbie” & “Oppenheimer” Aren’t in Competition, They’re in Concert

Inside Margot Robbie’s Bold “Barbie” Pitch Meetings

Featured image: Caption: (L-r) RYAN GOSLING, MARGOT ROBBIE and Director/Writer GRETA GERWIG on the set of Warner Bros. Pictures’ “BARBIE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Jaap Buitendijk


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The Credits is an online magazine that tells the story behind the story to celebrate our large and diverse creative community. Focusing on profiles of below-the-line filmmakers, The Credits celebrates the often uncelebrated individuals who are indispensable to the films and TV shows we love.