Barbie topples Harry Potter to become Warner Bros’ highest-grossing film of all time

The (US) summer of Barbie is showing no signs of stopping. 

Now in its sixth week in theatres, Greta Gerwig’s pastel dream earned an extra $US17.3 million ($26.9 million) in international ticket sales over the weekend.

That pushed its total international gross earnings to $US1,342,401,000.

This makes Barbie the highest-grossing Warner Bros film of all time.

The title was previously held by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, which earned $US1,342,359,942 (not adjusted for inflation).

Can Barbie take out Mario?

Not content with blowing Harry Potter out of the water, Barbie now has her sights set on the Mario brothers.

The Super Mario Bros Movie is currently the highest-grossing film of 2023 internationally with a gross of $US1.35 billion.

Barbie is about $US17 million behind Mario in international gross — and is still being shown in cinemas around the world. 

And Barbie has already blue-shelled Mario to become the year’s highest earner in the US — sitting at $US594 million to Mario’s $US574 million.

Still from The Super Mario Bros. Movie
The Super Mario Bros. Movie starred Chris Pratt as Mario and Charlie Day as his brother Luigi.(Supplied: Universal/Illumination)

With Barbie’s theatrical run still bringing in tens of millions a week, it’s a safe bet that it will emerge triumphant as the biggest movie of 2023.

And that’s not the only record it’s broken.

Barbie also made history for:

  • The biggest US opening weekend for 2023 ($US162 million)
  • The biggest US opening weekend for a female director (Taking the place of Patty Jenkin’s $US103 million opening for Wonder Woman)
  • The first billion-dollar film from a solo female director (Frozen, Frozen II, and Captain Marvel all made a billion but were co-directed with men)

Actor’s strike culls competition

A blonde white man wears a pink shirt, while riding in the back of a pink car driven by a white blonde woman in a pink outfit.

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It’s unlikely that another blockbuster will blindside Barbie to be the biggest of 2023 — thanks in part to the ongoing Actors and Writers Strike.

Now in its second month, ongoing negotiations between the US actors union, writers union and the body that represents major studios means that Hollywood A-listers are forbidden from promoting their films.

This has led to the studios pushing a bunch of major films originally slated for 2023 into 2024.

Films delayed by the strike include:

  • Challengers: A sports rom-com from Call Me By Your Name’s Luca Guadagnino and starring Zendaya was supposed to come out on September 15 and but now been moved to April 26 next year.
  • Dune — Part II: The highly anticipated Zendaya and Timothée Chalamet sequel was expected to pull huge audiences on October 20. Then it was delayed until November 17. Now the release date is March 15 next year.
  • Force of Nature: The Dry 2: Even Australian films can’t escape the strikes. This Aussie mystery sequel was supposed to premiere on August 24 but has been pushed back. There’s no new release date for it yet. 
  • Kraven The Hunter: We were supposed to get this Marvel superhero film in October, but its release has been pushed all the way to next August — about a year from now
  • Problemista: The A24 surrealist comedy is one of the unlucky ones that was supposed to premiere this month but now has been postponed indefinitely
  • Ghostbusters: Afterlife sequel: This next entry into the Ghostbusters universe doesn’t even have a name yet but was supposed to screen in theatres on December 20. It’s now been moved to March 29 next year

What are the highest-grossing films of all time?

Barbie might be making a big impression on the 2023 box office but she’s got a way to go before she cracks the top five highest-grossing films of all time.

According to BoxOfficeMojo, they are:

  1. 1.Avatar (2009) — $US2,923,706,026
  2. 2.Avengers: Endgame (2019) — $US2,799,439,100
  3. 3.Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)  $US2,320,250,281
  4. 4.Titanic (1997)  $US2,264,743,305
  5. 5.Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens (2015) — $US2,071,310,218

However, when you adjust for inflation, the highest-grossing films of all time are much less superhero-y.

The top five highest-grossing films of all time, adjusted for inflation, are:

  1. 1.Gone With The Wind (1939) — $US1,850,581,586
  2. 2.Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope (1977) — $US1,629,496,559
  3. 3.The Sound of Music (1965)  $US1,303,502,105
  4. 4.E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial — $US1,297,730,421
  5. 5.Titanic (1995) — $US1,240,054,754
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