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BARBENHEIMER REVISITED: MOVIE PREFERENCES AROUND THE WORLD


December 11, 2023 by Mitch Metcalf

Today’s Golden Globes nominations recalls the summer’s massive Barbenheimer phenomenon. Three of 2023’s biggest movies opened over a two-week period in late July, with Barbie ($1.44 billion worldwide), Oppenheimer ($951 million worldwide) and the latest Mission:Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One ($568 million) combining for just under $3 billion around the world. The three films performed quite differently in different parts of the world due to a combination of cultural differences and release patterns and availability. The chart below looks at key international regions tracked by MEI using data from boxofficemojo.com.


Looking at the combined box office for the three films, Barbie dominated North America, other English-speaking parts of the world (UK and Australia) as well as Mexico, Brazil and Spain. Oppenheimer was a solid second choice in these areas, with Mission:Impossible a distant third. Keep in mind, Mission:Impossible still performed almost 2 times the gross of the average Hollywood film in these territories, but that paled in comparison to Oppenheimer’s 4.1x performance and especially Barbie’s 8.3x performance compared to the average Hollywood film in Region 1.


As we move into the rest of Europe, it becomes a two-way race between Barbie and Oppenheimer. It’s not that Barbe did poorly in Europe. Rather, Oppenheimer simply matched Barbie’s appeal in most of Europe, with both films posting grosses 7 or 8 times the typical Hollywood film’s gross in the Region 3 territories.


However, throughout Asia and the Middle East, Barbie became the after-thought and Mission:Impossible the competitor to Oppenheimer. Barbie was not even released in India, Indonesia and Taiwan, while the film had fairly brief releases in most of the other Asian territories that we track. Whether it was audience disinterest, censorship or controversy over the film’s depiction of the “nine-dash-line” South China sea map (which caused Vietnam to not play the film), this was the only part of the world where Barbie struggled. Meanwhile, South Korea, Taiwan, UAE and Hong Kong came to the rescue for Mission:Impossible, delivering grosses about 5 times the average for a Hollywood film in those territories.


While China was just under average for M:I, that is still a $49M gross for M:I from China, its largest territory outside of North America. Meanwhile, China was quite significant for Oppenheimer, with its $62 million contribution trailing only North America and the UK. Even Barbie managed $35 million in the massive Chinese market. Another testament to the importance of the Chinese market when a film can access it.


For those interested, the film by film data for the territories tracked by MEI are available below, along with the average gross in each territory for Hollywood films released there.


Territory Box Office Grosses for Barbie, Oppenheimer and Mission:Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One and Average Hollywood Film Released (Past Two Years)


Strongest Barbie Territories

USA/Canada: Barbie $636.2M; Opp. $325.4M; M:I $172.1M [Avg $31.9M]


UK: Barbie $119.1M; Opp. $74.3M; M:I $34.1M [Avg $12.3M]


Australia: Barbie $57.5M; Opp. $27.9M; M:I $14.4M [Avg $6.7M]


Mexico: Barbie $54.3M; Opp. $19.4M; M:I $11.1M [Avg $7.3M]


Brazil: Barbie $43.8M; Opp. $14.0M; M:I $8.6M [Avg $5.5M]


Spain: Barbie $35.6M; Opp. $22.7M; M:I $6.8M [Avg $4.7M]


Balanced Barbie and Oppenheimer Territories

Germany: Barbie $57.6M; Opp. $51.4M; M:I $15.5M [Avg $7.5M]


France: Barbie $44.0M; Opp. $42.5M; M:I $25.1M [Avg $9.0M]


Italy: Barbie $33.9M; Opp. $29.8M; M:I $6.0M [Avg $3.8M]


Netherlands: Barbie $21.7M; Opp. $22.2M; M:I $7.9M [Avg $2.5M]


Weakest Barbie Territories

China: Barbie $35.2M; Opp. $61.6M; M:I $48.8M [Avg $52.6M]


Japan: Barbie $3.9M; Opp. ---; M:I $37.9M [Avg $14.7M]


South Korea: Barbie $4.3M; Opp. $25.8M; M:I $31.7M [Avg $7.5M]


Hong Kong: Barbie $5.1M; Opp. $9.8M; M:I $8.0M [Avg $1.8M]


UAE: Barbie $4.2M; Opp. $7.9M; M:I $9.1M [Avg $1.5M]


Indonesia: Barbie ---; Opp. $4.0M; M:I $7.9M [Avg $3.5M]


Taiwan: Barbie ---; Opp. $7.1M; M:I $14.0M [Avg $2.8M]


India: Barbie ---; Opp. $19.1M; M:I $16.1M [Avg $5.1M]


--- Movie did not play in that country

 

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