Greta Gerwig Shatters Records For Female Directors at Box Office

The Big Picture

  • Greta Gerwig’s success with Barbie has elevated her to A-list status and solidified her reputation as a talented director who has worked her way up slowly and steadily.
  • Barbie‘s box office success has broken records, becoming the highest-grossing film by a female director both domestically and globally, surpassing the achievements of Frozen II and Captain Marvel.
  • Gerwig has multiple exciting opportunities on the horizon, including directing two Narnia movies for Netflix.

The phenomenal success of Barbie has catapulted Greta Gerwig straight to the A-list. Which isn’t to say that she didn’t pay her dues. Gerwig has had a traditionally gradual rise up the ranks, which is in stark contrast to many young filmmakers who have been handed major franchise movies after having delivered an indie hit or two. And even though everybody knew that Barbie would be a home run for Warner Bros’, nobody could’ve predicted exactly how massive it would eventually become.

After three full weeks in theaters, the movie passed three major milestones on one day. The movie crossed the $500 million mark domestically on Friday, after having already shot past the $1 billion mark globally some days ago. By doing so, it has become the highest-grossing film by a female director at the domestic box office, overtaking Frozen II, directed by Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck. Barbie is now also the highest-grossing live-action movie by a female director at the global box office, overtaking the $1.13 billion lifetime haul of Captain Marvel, directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.

Gerwig first broke out as the co-director of Nights and Weekends, alongside mumblecore maverick Joe Swanberg. She made her solo directorial debut with the acclaimed Lady Bird, which grossed nearly $80 million worldwide, and earned her Oscar nominations in the Best Director and Best Original Screenplay categories. She followed it up with Little Women, which grossed over $200 million globally, and earned Gerwig her third Academy Award nod, this time in the Best Adapted Screenplay category.

Image via Warner Bros. 

Gerwig Meticulously Worked Her Way to the Top

While Lady Bird only cost $10 million to produce, Gerwig leveled up with a $40 million budget for Little Women. Barbie is by far her most expensive film, with a reported budget in the $150 million range. Ridley Scott would approve of this career path; in a 2017 interview with Vulture, the legendary filmmaker said that it is “stupid” of studios to hand inexperienced filmmakers $180 million budgets to make massive tent pole movies. Instead, he said, directors should “grow into it, little by little.” “Start low-budget, get a little bit bigger, maybe after $20 million, you can go to $80 (million). But don’t suddenly go to $160 (million),” he said.

The world is now Gerwig’s oyster. While there have been obvious talks about a Barbie follow-up, Gerwig is currently attached to helm two Narnia movies for Netflix. Based on the popular Mattel toyline, Barbie offers a satirical and subversive take on themes like patriarchy, existentialism and feminism. The movie stars Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling in the central roles, and marks a much-needed box office victory for them after a series of disappointing results. You can watch our interview with Gerwig here, and stay tuned to Crumpa for more updates.

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