Over 20% of Barbie’s audience hadn’t been to the movies in years

Every so often, a movie comes out that really changes the discourse, shakes up the industry, and becomes a huge cultural zeitgeist. Barbie is the latest movie to do this. It’s become a really fun event to go see Barbie. Women (and some men too!) are dressing up in their best pinks to see it in theaters. So far, it’s made more than $1 billion and counting at the worldwide box office, Greta Gerwig has become the highest grossing female director of all time, and Margot Robbie is set to make $50 million on the backend. And now, we can add another crazy statistic to Barbie’s success: according to a recent survey, nearly a quarter of Barbie’s audience says that they haven’t been to a movie theater in years. Barbie is fighting the patriarchy and saving the movies!

A recent survey reveals that 22% of Barbie’s audience hadn’t been to a movie theater in years. Barbie has been a massive box office success, having currently grossed $1.18 billion worldwide. By the end of its opening weekend, Barbie grossed $162 million domestically. Director Greta Gerwig also had the highest-grossing domestic opening ever for a female director and is now the highest-grossing female director of all time at the domestic box office. Barbie has since surpassed Aquaman’s record of $1.15 billion, making it the second highest-grossing movie in Warner Bros. history.

According to a survey by Quorum, 11% of Barbie’s audience hadn’t been to a movie theater since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and another 11% couldn’t recall the last movie they saw in a theater. Of those surveyed, 46% said they go to the movies all of the time and 32% said they go every now and again. The survey was conducted among 1,800 people over the course of the three weeks since Barbie’s theatrical release.

While the 1,800 people surveyed are only a sampling of Barbie’s extensive audience, the results do speak volumes about Barbie’s record-shattering box office success. According to the survey, nearly a quarter of the people who saw Barbie haven’t been to the theaters since the pandemic or haven’t gone in so long that they can’t recall the last movie they saw in theaters. This is a feat that many movies, some of which seemed like surefire hits, have failed to achieve since movie theaters reopened in 2021 after closing due to the pandemic in March 2020.

Barbie got audiences to return to theaters by making the movie feel like an event. The 2001: A Space Odyssey-inspired teaser trailer kicked off an exciting marketing campaign that made it clear the movie was going to take risks and would appeal to many demographics. From the interactive Barbie selfie generator to the Barbenheimer discourse, Barbie became a movie that needed to be seen in theaters instead of just waiting for it to become available via streaming. During and after opening weekend, social media has been flooded with pictures of attendees going to see Barbie in their best pink outfits.

Good word of mouth has also benefited Barbie. The movie has been widely praised for its stunning production design, its positive messages, Gerwig’s direction, and the performances from Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, and its other stars, proving the movie lived up to the hype. Barbie’s success is proof that plenty of audiences are still interested in going to the movies; they just need to feel like they have a good reason to go. The stellar marketing campaign, online discourse, and good word of mouth surrounding Barbie caught the attention of those who haven’t gone to the theaters in recent years.

[From Screenrant]

I think Screenrant nails a lot of the reasons behind Barbie’s success. After those pictures leaked last year, people got really excited for it and the marketing team did a phenomenal job keeping the hype up ahead of time. The Barbenheimer stuff – there were some great memes – definitely also helped encourage people to get out to the theater to see both films when they otherwise may have only seen just one of them. I should also point out that Disney+ and HBO Max were streaming new releases last year, so why would people pay for a movie ticket, popcorn, and a drink when they could just stream the same movie at home?

However, the one thing that article fails to acknowledge is that women are the main drivers of Barbie’s success! When people make things for women, we show up! When is the last time a big movie came out in theaters that was specifically made with women of all ages in mind? Look, I enjoyed the first decade of Marvel movies but they were made for me to enjoy as a nerd and movies like Mission: Impossible, John Wick, and Indiana Jones – all sequels – appealed to me as an action fan. Barbie was the first big movie in a long time that was made for and specifically spoke to the female experience. Plus, it was well-made, indulged our nostalgia, had a dance sequence, and was, above all else, just really fun. I’m glad so many people were inspired to venture back into theaters to see it. Maybe Hollywood will make more movies geared towards us again.

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16 Responses to “Over 20% of Barbie’s audience hadn’t been to the movies in years”

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  1. SarahCS says:

    That’s my 67 year old mother, right there. I couldn’t tell you the last time she went to see something at the cinema and I didn’t even prompt her to see this (I thought she’d enjoy it but never thought she’d go to the cinema for it).

    It’s for the women and it’s a genuinely good film. I wasn’t sold after the first trailer but the second one had me absolutely on board and we booked our opening weekend tickets when they came on sale. My BFF and I have been back for a second viewing too. The Pride and Prejudice joke hurt as much the second time around.

  2. Lady D says:

    I haven’t been to a theatre in five years. I wanted to see this on the big screen and it did not disappoint. Having said that, I actually watched in on a 50′ x 100′ screen at the drive-in, but it still counts as a movie screen. The drive-in was packed and 3/4 of the people there were in pink, too.

  3. Ula1010 says:

    Barbie got my sister into the theater for the first time since Endgame. I was shocked she went on the first Friday too. This movie has amazing pull.

    • BrainFog says:

      It really has. I went, and it was the first time since… I wanna say 2017? 2018 at most.

  4. Lisa says:

    I only see old movies in theaters. I cant tell you when I last saw a new film at the movies. I’ve seen Barbie 3 times now. My local theater had so many elderly people and people who needed mobility devices, all in pink. They were there despite the building being old and not the most accessible so they may not go that often either. I wish I was more articulate but it was a lovely wholesome cultural moment.

    It’s customary at my theater for the staff to address the crowd at big events like when we do the sing a long sound of music at xmas. When he asked if anyone was taking advantage of the half price ticket for Oppenheimer we got with ours, those nanas BOOED him! lol!

  5. ariel says:

    I think the last time i was in the theatre prior to Barbie was to see Us- the Jordan Peele movie that was amazing- but still kinda gives me nightmares.
    I’ve seen Barbie twice, and heck, i may see it again. It is delightful on so many levels.

    And confession- i have looked at ALL the Barbie tie in products, and only one really struck me, a stupid nyx compact mirror for $20 that is in the shape of a barbie pink flip phone.
    It has of course been out of stock- so yesterday, i paid $50 for one on ebay.

    And i stand by the economically poor decision.

    • Bee says:

      Nyx is a fantastic brand.

      I haven’t been in a theater in years until Barbie. I want to see it again!

      I was hoping to get my howard stern listening housemate to come with but he’s resistant. Can’t imagine why. Not enough dick jokes I suppose.

      Need more movies by, about, and for women.

      • SarahCS says:

        My boyfriend is not as bad as that but I’d probably describe him as blissfully naive of his privilege. As we were leaving Barbie (for the second time) my BFF said that she would pay to watch him watch it. Just watch his face while he watches the film and I may need to make that happen because I think she has a point.

    • Lisa says:

      lol Ariel, I paid almost that with shipping for mine and I would do it again

  6. K says:

    That was me! Hadn’t seen a movie in theaters since the pandemic and I’ve seen Barbie twice with friends. We need more women centered movies!

  7. Mrs. S says:

    The last time prior to Barbie that I went to the movie theater was 2010. Still not a fan of the theater setting, but thoroughly enjoyed seeing Barbie.

  8. Becca says:

    Barbie and You Hurt My Feelings are the only movies I have gone to the theater for in at least 5 years. They are very different, but I enjoyed them both and supporting women filmmakers.

  9. cosmic_catastrophe says:

    This is me! I probably last went to a theatre in 2016, at the latest. I am not a movie-watcher in general, either…but as I learned more and watched the trailers, I became more and more hyped. I went opening weekend with one of my BFFs, twinning in pink, Barbie shirts and heart sunglasses, and we had the BEST time. Going to the theatre to see Barbie was definitely an event, and the majority of the audience was girls and women, in pink, and we all laughed together throughout – I’d see it again in a heartbeat!

  10. Jenn says:

    Yeah, I hadn’t been to a movie theater since a long time before Covid. I went to see Barbie wearing a mask and gigantic pink tulle dress. Pretty sure I poked someone in the eye on my way to my assigned seat

  11. ElleE says:

    This movie was made for friends of Dorothy & those boys turned up, turned out!
    It was so much fun here in Boston to see men showing up in groups , in their best country-club pink. Not many women have pressed linen pink slacks in their closet.
    Going to the movies felt more like an event at the guys “dressed up to get messed up” in pink with their white Italian loafers.
    It was also interesting to see how many jokes went over my head: the guys with laugh and the women were like “uhh OK”.

  12. AC says:

    I haven’t seen Barbie yet but will have to do for a girls night out. And agree when HW makes films and shows for women, we’re literally gaga over it- I have to mention it again , same with the Summer I Turned Pretty. The show is literally having social media debates between moms, daughters, nieces, sisters , friends and even husbands 🤣 on which team is better.and bringing family and friends to watch it together. And it’s been consistently the top 10 most watched show of all shows each week.
    I’m also happy to hear that red, white and royal blue is number 1 worldwide on Amazon and they added more subscribers because of it. HW is finally listening – make shows and movies that has a Diverse and Authentic cast and you’ll get your numbers!