“Barbie” and “Gran Turismo” are both claiming victory at the box office in a showdown that has a lot to do with movie accounting and shifting definitions of the meaning of an opening weekend.
Warner Bros., which backed “Barbie,” is claiming that the film won the weekend for the fifth time, earning $15.1 million over last Friday, Saturday and Sunday. However, Sony, which produced “Gran Turismo,” is claiming that its film topped box office charts with $17.4 million.
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At issue, is the fact that “Gran Turismo’s” opening figure includes both the $1.4 million it earned in Thursday previews and the $3.9 million it generated in weeks of special pre-show screenings. Studios routinely fold Thursday preview grosses into their opening weekend results — Warner Bros. doesn’t dispute that. However, Sony does seem to be applying a pretty liberal idea of what constitutes an opening weekend by including its weeks of other screenings.
It has company here. Paramount did the same thing with “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” when it opened in the spring, adding in results from multiple preview screenings into its inaugural weekend. And during the darkest days of the pandemic, Warner Bros. factored in eleven days of screenings into its $20 million “opening” for Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet.”
Without the preview screenings, “Gran Turismo” would have opened in second place with $13.4 million, Warner Bros. claims. Ultimately, it may not make much difference who comes out on top. “Barbie” is one of the biggest films of this or any year, having earned $1.34 billion. “Gran Turismo,” which has made $53.8 million globally, still has a lot of ground to make up if it wants to turn a profit. The racing adventure cost $60 million to produce and millions more to market.
On Sunday, Warner Bros. projected that “Barbie” would earn $17.1 million over the weekend, but those estimates were revised downward on Monday.
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