Hollywood’s Box Score So Far In 2023: The Top 5 Success Stories

Although Hollywood faced its fair share of challenges this season, the outcome is a victory. If everything unfolds as expected by the end of the week, this summer is poised to achieve the coveted $4 billion milestone at the box office, marking it as the most successful summer since the pre-pandemic era.

However, the situation remains precarious, with several major movie news reports suffering significant financial losses. Therefore, there are still essential lessons to be gleaned from these setbacks.

1.  Oppenheimer

The summer featured both Barbie and Oppenheimer, but it was primarily the summer of “Barbenheimer,” an unlikely double bill of movies with contrasting themes that transformed competition into collaboration. Millions of moviegoers opted to watch both films during their opening weekend and continued to do so in the following weeks, creating a rare global duopoly in the industry. 

While Barbie’s box office performance was undeniably significant, the true standout was 3 hours of drama that, to date, has raked in over $722 million. 

Audiences embraced this biopic in a manner akin to a superhero film, and it benefited greatly from being directed by Christopher Nolan, renowned for his work in The Dark Knight trilogy. 

2. Barbie

Even Fortune Teller Barbie herself couldn’t have predicted the sensational success of this summer’s live-action Barbie movie. This record-breaking, billion-dollar blockbuster dominated the season but is poised to claim the title of the year’s biggest film. 

While Mattel’s impressive sales figures (surpassing $1.4 billion in Barbie product sales last year) and an incredibly effective marketing campaign hinted at great potential, Greta Gerwig’s critically acclaimed semi-satirical take on Barbie, starring Margot Robbie, exceeded all expectations. 

It became a rare blockbuster that transcended the realms of cinema and became a true cultural phenomenon. To date, it stands as the most significant film ever directed by a female filmmaker, the highest-grossing movie in Warner Bros. history, and with its current earnings of $1.2 billion (continuing to perform well, unlike many summer hits), it’s on track to join the ranks of the top 10 highest-grossing films of all time. 

3. The Super Mario Bros. Movie

  • Opening weekend $146 million
  • Gross revenue: $1.33 billion

It’s a smash hit! Thanks to brand familiarity and copious amounts of nostalgia for the multigenerational video game, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” holds the record for the largest opening weekend of the year (so far). It was able to maintain this excitement with spectators, young and old. 

It’s the first film of the year to pass the coveted $1 billion mark and the highest-grossing video game adaptation, which is no minor accomplishment given Hollywood’s prior attempts to adapt video game storylines for the big screen. Any way you look at it, this is a triumph for the Mushroom Kingdom.

4. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

  • Weekend of debut: $118 million
  • Global revenue as of today: $827 millio

All the worry about “Vol. 3” having a weaker-than-expected debut weekend was for nothing. The third film in the trilogy, which James Gunn directed, recovered well in the weeks after its release and escaped the momentum issue troubling previous Marvel films set during the epidemic. 

No, it hasn’t surpassed “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” the most successful film in the franchise with $863 million, its predecessor. This recent MCU entry fell short of the $1 billion mark. But “Guardians,” which has always been more eccentric than its comic book universe contemporaries, nonetheless achieved the triple crown of movie office success.

5. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Another significant success story of the season followed a similar trajectory: the brilliantly imaginative animated sequel, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.” This film was brimming with creativity and fresh ideas, and its storyline cleverly capitalized on our collective weariness with the superhero genre and the Spider-Man narrative itself. 

It garnered widespread acclaim from critics and audiences, amassing a global box office haul of $687 million, surpassing its predecessor’s earnings by $300 million. This success served as a testament to the enduring vitality of the Marvel universe.

Special Note: 

Although Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One also earned a staggering $570 million+ in its worldwide collections, it has just earned a fair profit. It is not a blockbuster, given its high budget inflated by COVID-related complications of a staggering $291 million. Paramount, projected to incur losses of around $100 million, received a boost of $71 million from the insurance company after winning the lawsuit.