Director Barbie: Greta Gerwig Makes Box Office History

‘Barbie’ now holds the record for the biggest opening weekend for a film directed by a woman.

Director, actress, and writer Greta Gerwig made box office history when Barbie made $155 million in its opening weekend. This is the biggest debut ever for a film directed by a woman.

Captain Marvel, co-directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, previously held the record. The Marvel movie made $153 million in 2019. The record-holder for a film directed solely by a woman was 2017’s Wonder Woman from filmmaker Patty Jenkins with $103 million.

With the international box office, Barbie now has a global tally of $337 million. The film also holds the record for the biggest opening weekend of 2023, with praise coming from both critics and audiences alike.

READ ALSO: Doll-Lightful Wisdom: Empowering Quotes From Barbie Movie & Why We Agree With Them

Greta Gerwig with the cast of Barbie
Greta Gerwig with the cast of Barbie | Image via Instagram @barbiethemovie

Barbie has exploded into a zeitgeist film,” said David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “This is genuine excitement, not the manufactured kind. Moviegoers are making it their own.”

The woman at the helm

Greta Gerwig began her career by starring in mumblecore movies, a subgenre of independent films. These films are defined by naturalistic acting and the way they prioritize dialogue over plot, often focusing on the relationships between young adults.

After Joe Swanberg cast her in his film Hannah Takes the Stairs in 2007, the pair went on to write, direct, and star in Nights and Weekends a year later.

In 2010, Gerwig had a sort of breakthrough with Noah Baumbach’s Greenberg. She was cast alongside more mainstream actors such as Ben Stiller, Rhys Ifans, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. She then started dating Baumbach in late 2011.

Theatrical release poster for Frances Ha
Theatrical release poster for Frances Ha | Image via IFC Films website

Together, the creative duo co-wrote Frances Ha which Gerwig starred in. Released in 2013, the film earned the actress a Golden Globes nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical.

Gerwig’s solo directorial debut

Gerwig made her highly anticipated solo directorial debut with the comedy-drama Lady Bird in 2017. She also wrote the coming-of-age story herself.

In a behind-the-scenes video, Gerwig shared that her films are often based on her own experiences. “I tend to start with things from my own life, then pretty quickly they spin out into their own orbit,” the director said.

Additionally, she encourages actors to incorporate their own personalities in their performances, making their characters natural and unique.

Greta Gerwig on the set of Lady Bird
Greta Gerwig on the set of Lady Bird | Image via Instagram @ladybirdmovie

Starring Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, and Beanie Feldstein, the film was nominated for—and won—several awards.

At the 75th Golden Globes, Lady Bird won Best Motion Picture for a Musical or Comedy. Ronan also received a Best Actress award that year. Meanwhile, at the 90th Academy Awards, Gerwig was only the fifth woman in Oscar history to be nominated for Best Director.

Gerwig went on to adapt Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel Little Women. The film received Oscar nods for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. However, the Academy notably snubbed Gerwig (and other female filmmakers) in the Best Director category.

Greta Gerwig on the Oscars' red carpet
Greta Gerwig on the Oscars’ red carpet | Image via Instagram @ladybirdmovie

After starring in Baumbach’s 2022 film White Noise with Adam Driver, Gerwig made her return to the director’s chair with Barbie. She also co-wrote the screenplay with her partner, who she now has two sons with.

Moving forward, Gerwig’s talent agent Jeremy Barber commented that the director is “looking to move beyond the small-scale dramas she was known for.”

“Greta and I have been very consciously constructing a career,” Barber explained. “Her ambition is to be not the biggest woman director but a big studio director. And Barbie was a piece of I.P. that was resonant to her.”

Banner image via Instagram @barbiethemovie.

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