In a thrilling box office showdown, “Gran Turismo: Based on a True Story” and “Barbie” are locked in a close race for supremacy. According to studio estimates released on Sunday, the video game adaptation “Gran Turismo” is narrowly leading Greta Gerwig’s sensation “Barbie.”
Sony Pictures reported a weekend opening of $17.3 million for “Gran Turismo,” while Warner Bros. estimated that the enduring popularity of “Barbie,” now in its sixth week, brought in $17.1 million. However, these figures might shift as final ticket sales are finalized on Monday.
Despite the neck-and-neck competition, “Barbie” is likely to have drawn more viewers over the Friday-to-Sunday period, largely due to an exceptional weekend in cinemas. This period coincided with the second annual National Cinema Day in the United States, featuring $4 tickets for all films and showtimes across the country.
The anticipated frontrunner for the discounted day was undoubtedly “Barbie,” which gained additional momentum from repeat viewings. With a domestic ticket sale total of $594.8 million, “Barbie” has overtaken “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” ($574 million) as this year’s most successful domestic hit. Globally, with earnings of $1.34 billion, “Barbie” is on track to surpass the leading worldwide tally of $1.35 billion set by “Mario.”
The strategy behind National Cinema Day is to invigorate attendance during a typically sluggish period and recover ticket revenue losses by selling concessions. Last year’s event attracted a staggering 8.1 million moviegoers, making it the busiest day for theaters. Warner Bros. projected that “Barbie” would rake in $7.8 million on Sunday, potentially translating to almost 2 million viewers on that day alone.
So, what’s the definitive top film of the weekend?
“Barbie,” asserts Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros.’ distribution chief. “Without any question.”
Although “Barbie” holds the top spot in terms of viewership, “Gran Turismo” is leading in gross earnings, albeit by a slight and debatable margin. Sony has factored in a substantial $3.9 million from preview screenings held prior to Thursday, along with $1.4 million from Thursday previews, in its weekend totals for “Gran Turismo.” While this accounting practice is common in Hollywood, it stretches the boundaries of a conventional “opening weekend.”
Goldstein acknowledges, “We’ve made a big issue of it only because ‘Barbie’ has had incredible holds… To take away the number one, which would make it five weekends at number one since it opened, kind of doesn’t feel right for the ‘Barbie’ filmmakers who really deserve the accolades.”
Regardless, the start for “Gran Turismo,” with a production cost of approximately $60 million, has been moderately successful. The film, directed by Neill Blomkamp, resonated well with audiences, earning an “A” CinemaScore rating.
With actors and screenwriters still on strike, studios are unable to promote films with their casts. To generate awareness for “Gran Turismo,” Sony conducted weeks of preview screenings and fan events.
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for data firm Comscore, underscores, “Obviously, every movie is in pursuit of being the number one film… But at the end of the day, ‘Barbie’ is just an out-and-out smash global blockbuster. No matter how you slice it, ‘Barbie’ is always going to be a winner no matter the outcome of this weekend. Sony, left without stars to go out and promote the movie, had to rely on the audience becoming the marketing voice.”
Last week’s leader, the DC Comics release “Blue Beetle,” slipped to third place in its second week, generating $12.8 million. With a cumulative total of $46.3 million in two weeks, this Warner Bros. film joins a string of DC misfires.
Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” trailed in fourth place, earning $9 million in its sixth week. Similar to its counterpart “Barbenheimer,” this Universal Pictures release continued to perform exceptionally well beyond the usual lifespan of films in theaters. “Oppenheimer” has crossed the $300 million domestic mark and reached an impressive global total of $777.1 million.
A cluster of new releases also hit the theaters. MGM’s high-school comedy “Bottoms” had a strong limited-release debut, averaging $51,600 per location across 10 theaters. The Liam Neeson thriller “Retribution” premiered with $3.3 million across 1,750 theaters for Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions.
Starring Dennis Quaid, the sports drama “The Hill” made its entry with $2.5 million from 1,570 locations for Briarcliff and Open Road. Additionally, “Golda,” featuring Helen Mirren as the former Israeli prime minister, marked its debut with $2 million across 883 theaters for Bleecker Street.
According to Comscore, the North American summer box office is on the brink of surpassing $4 billion, trailing by only $70 million. After a roller-coaster season marked by underperforming major releases, “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” have sparked a resurgence. If the summer box office crosses the $4 billion threshold, it will be the first time since 2019.
Please note that the estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters are provided by Comscore, with final domestic figures to be released on Monday. The box office rankings are as follows:
- “Gran Turismo: Based on a True Story,” $17.3 million.
- “Barbie,” $17.1 million.
- “Blue Beetle,” $12.8 million.
- “Oppenheimer,” $9 million.
- “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem,” $6.1 million.
- “Meg 2: The Trench,” $5.1 million.
- “Strays,” $4.7 million.
- “Retribution,” $3.3 million.
- “The Hill,” $2.5 million.
- “Haunted Mansion,” $2.1 million.