For months, the internet has been painted pink in anticipation of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie. As a filmmaker, Gerwig has truly centered women throughout her work. 2017’s Lady Bird and 2019’s Little Women both were critically-acclaimed and received praise for their nuanced portrayal of girlhood, womanhood, and coming-of-age. In Barbie, Gerwig gracefully explores patriarchy, femininity, and more, to incredible results at the box office.
Women directors and women-led films are underrepresented among the top films. In 2022, women accounted for just 11% of directors working on the top 100 U.S. films. Barbie’s historic success at the box office must be considered within the context of this underrepresentation. In short, Barbie claims:
- The biggest domestic opening of 2023;
- The biggest opening by a woman director; and
- The biggest opening weekend for a movie that isn’t a sequel, remake, or superhero film.
Barbie did this as a film by, for, and about women. Launched in 1959, the doll has a rich history with generations of women and girls. Though it has often been the subject of feminist critique, Ruth Handler created Barbie to be anything she wanted despite the limiting gender norms that relegated women to the role of caretaker. The film acknowledges this nuance in a powerful message around this theme.
Though not directed by a woman, this year’s The Little Mermaid has also been extremely profitable at the box office. Films like Bridesmaids and Girls Trip have also been significant moments for women-led films. It is clear from these films and more that there is a significant market for more women-centric media.
Take Action! Support women-led and women-directed films at the box office. Show these projects love on social media with #MediaWeLike.