'Barbie' becomes highest-grossing movie of 2023 as 'Gran Turismo' zooms to No. 1 at the box office

Issa Rae in a pink jumpsuit and a pink sash holding up her right hand surrounded by women wearing similar outfits
Issa Rae, center, in Warner Bros.' "Barbie." (Warner Bros.)

Dolls triumphed over video games this week as Warner Bros.' "Barbie" officially surpassed Universal Pictures' "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" as the highest-grossing domestic release of 2023.

This weekend, Greta Gerwig's girl-powered juggernaut is expected to finish second behind Sony Pictures' "Gran Turismo" at the box office, grossing $17.1 million in its sixth frame for a North American cumulative of $594.8 million, according to measurement firm Comscore.

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During its historic theatrical run, "Barbie" has shattered a slew of records, including the highest domestic debut of 2023 and the biggest North American launch of all time for a title directed by a woman. "Super Mario," released in April, peaked at $574.3 million in the United States and Canada earlier this year.

"Gran Turismo," by Neill Blomkamp, debuted atop the domestic box office this weekend with $17.3 million; while Warner Bros.' "Blue Beetle" slipped into third, earning $12.8 million in its sophomore outing for a North American total of $46.3 million after ending "Barbie's" No. 1 streak last week.

"Turismo" stars Archie Madekwe as a young gamer who becomes a professional race-car driver with the help of a failed former racer (David Harbour) and an ambitious motorsport executive (Orlando Bloom). The cast also features Darren Barnet, Geri Halliwell Horner and Djimon Hounsou.

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Based on the true story of an English gamer who found success as a race-car driver after playing the popular racing game of the same name, "Gran Turismo" received a lukewarm 60% fresh rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes and an A grade from audiences polled by CinemaScore.

"As a piece of purely mechanical, revved-up entertainment, 'Gran Turismo' really does work," writes film critic Katie Walsh for Tribune News Service.

"Audience members will raise their hands with full-throated cheers every time [Madekwe's character] inches up higher in the rankings, such is the appeal of Madekwe’s earnest performance."

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"Gran Turismo" — which reportedly cost about $60 million to make — exceeded early box-office projections, which ranged from $10 million to $12 million in the United States and Canada. It's worth noting, however, that the movie's Friday sales were heavily bolstered by a nine-day preview period where select audiences had access to advance screenings, according to Deadline.

Warner Bros. has reportedly argued that Sony is cheating by including nine days of preview admissions in its Friday total for "Gran Turismo." However, it is industry practice to include advance screenings in weekend totals.

The action film has drawn comparisons to another racing movie, 20th Century Studios' "Ford v Ferrari," which also surpassed expectations and launched at $30 million in November 2019.

Of course, that was before the COVID-19 pandemic debilitated the theater industry and the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes ground Hollywood to a halt. Sony actually delayed the release of "Gran Turismo" two weeks because of the work stoppage.

Complicating this weekend's box-office results is National Cinema Day. On Sunday, movie tickets only cost $4 at thousands of theaters in the United States.

According to Comscore, "Barbie" is expected to dominate National Cinema Day as frugal moviegoers flock to theaters to take advantage of the discount. As a result, analysts anticipate that the blockbuster will make significantly more money on Sunday than it did Friday or Saturday, despite the drop in prices.

Opening in wide release next weekend is Columbia Pictures' "The Equalizer 3."

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.