It’s official: On Thursday (Aug. 24), Barbie topped The Super Mario Bros. Movie to become the highest-grossing film in the U.S. for 2023, according to boxofficemojo.com. Barbie has grossed $575.4 million in the U.S., compared to $574.3 million for The Super Mario Bros. Movie.
Barbie became the year’s box-office champ in just a little more than a month. The film was released in the U.S. on July 21. The Super Mario Bros. Movie was released on April 5. Barbie has been both a commercial and critical hit. It has provided joy and escapism for millions in a summer dominated by grim headlines about climate change, multiple indictments of a former president and a war in Ukraine that grinds on.
Five of the films in the top 10 are the latest installments in franchises. A sixth is a reboot of a previous film of the same name.
As we previously reported, Barbie, directed by Greta Gerwig, has also become the top-grossing film in the U.S. that was directed or co-directed by a woman. The previous record-holder was Frozen II (2019), which was co-directed by Jennifer Lee. The previous record-holder for a film that was solely directed by a woman was Wonder Woman (2017), which was directed by Patty Jenkins.
If Barbie winds up as the No. 1 box-office hit of 2023 – that is to say, if nothing comes along in the next four months or so to surpass it – this will be the first time that a film directed or co-directed by a woman has become the year’s top hit. Shrek, co-directed by Vicky Jenson, came closest; it was the No. 2 box-office hit of 2001.
Barbie has also been a hit on the Billboard charts. Barbie: The Album has climbed as high as No. 2 on the Billboard 200. Two singles from the album – Dua Lipa’s “Dance the Night” and Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice’s “Barbie World” – have made the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. A third single, Billie Eilish’s “What Was I Made For?,” has come close, so far peaking at No. 14.
Here are the 10 top-grossing films in the U.S. in 2023, through Thursday (Aug. 24), according to boxofficemojo.com. All release dates are in 2023, unless otherwise noted.
Sound of Freedom
Domestic Gross: $178.5 million
Release Date: July 4
Director: Alejandro Monteverde
Music: Javier Navarrete
Notes: Jim Caviezel, Mira Sorvino and Bill Camp starred in this action film. Caviezel plays Tim Ballard, a former U.S. government agent who embarks on a mission to rescue children from sex traffickers in Colombia. The film received mixed reviews, but audiences turned it into a sleeper hit. Monteverde, who was born in Mexico, is one of four directors with films on this list who was born outside the U.S. The others: James Cameron (Canada), Christopher Nolan (England) and Joaquim Dos Santos (Portugal).
John Wick: Chapter 4
Domestic Gross: $187.1 million
Release Date: March 24
Director: Chad Stahelski
Music: Tyler Bates, Joel J. Richard
Notes: This was the fourth installment in the John Wick franchise, which is that rare franchise where each film does better at the domestic box office than the one that preceded it. The initial John Wick was the No. 79 film of 2014. John Wick: Chapter 2 was No. 36 for 2017. John Wick Chapter 3—Parabellum was No. 14 for 2019. This film stars Keanu Reeves as the title character, alongside Laurence Fishburne and Rina Sawayama, among others. A spin-off, Ballerina, is set for release on June 7, 2024.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
Domestic Gross: $214.5 million
Release Date: Feb. 17
Director: Peyton Reed
Music: Christophe Beck
Notes: This was the third film in the Ant-Man franchise, following Ant-Man (the No. 14 film of 2015 at the domestic box office) and Ant-Man and the Wasp (which was No. 9 for 2018). It stars Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly, with a supporting cast that includes Bill Murray, Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Douglas.
Avatar: The Way of Water
Domestic Gross: $283.1 million
Release Date: Dec. 16, 2022
Director: James Cameron
Music: Simon Franglen
Notes: This film grossed $401 million in the U.S. in its first 15 days of release (Dec. 16-31, 2022), which made it the fourth highest-grossing film of 2022 in the U.S. (Those dollars of course are not counted in this tally of its 2023 box-office receipts.) Cast members Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Stephen Lang, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Giovanni Ribisi, Dileep Rao, and Matt Gerald reprised their roles from the first Avatar (2009), with Sigourney Weaver returning in an additional role while Kate Winslet joined the cast.
With a production budget estimated to fall somewhere between $350–$460 million, this is one of the most expensive films ever made. But the film delivered. It is the third-highest-grossing film of all time in the U.S., behind the first Avatar and Avengers: Endgame. The film was nominated for four Oscars, including best picture. Three additional sequels are in production, with the next installment set to be released in December 2025.
Domestic Gross: $289.7 million
Release Date: July 21
Director: Christopher Nolan
Music: Ludwig Göransson
Notes: Based on the 2005 biography American Prometheus, the film chronicles the career of theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer. The film stars Cillian Murphy in the title role; Emily Blunt as his wife, “Kitty”; Matt Damon as Leslie Groves, head of the Manhattan Project; Robert Downey Jr. as Lewis Strauss, a member of the Atomic Energy Commission; and Florence Pugh as Jean Tatlock, a member of the Communist Party USA. Oppenheimer is already the seventh highest-grossing R-rated film of all time at the U.S. box office.
The Little Mermaid
Domestic Gross: $297.2 million
Release Date: May 26
Director: Rob Marshall
Music: Alan Menken
Notes:The Little Mermaid is a live-action adaptation of Disney’s 1989 animated film of the same name. The film stars Halle Bailey in the title role, alongside Jonah Hauer-King, Daveed Diggs, Awkwafina, Javier Bardem, Melissa McCarthy and more. Composer Alan Menken, who won two Oscars for the original film, returned to compose the score and write new songs alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda, who also serves as a producer with director Marshall, Marc Platt and John DeLuca.
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3
Domestic Gross: $359 million
Release Date: May 5
Director: James Gunn
Music: John Murphy
Notes: This is the sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy (the No. 1 domestic box-office hit of 2014) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (which was No. 4 for 2017). Written and directed by James Gunn, it features an ensemble cast that includes Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldaña, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Linda Cardellini, Nathan Fillion and Sylvester Stallone.
Gunn announced his return to write and direct the film in April 2017. Disney fired him from the film in July 2018 following the resurfacing of controversial posts on Twitter, but, following a strong show of support from the cast, the studio reversed course and reinstated him.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Domestic Gross: $381 million
Release Date: June 2
Director: Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson
Music: Daniel Pemberton
Notes: This sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has outperformed that film, which was the No. 29 hit of 2018 at the domestic box office. Like that film, this film has three directors – but none carried over from the first film. This film represents the feature directorial debuts for both Dos Santos and Thompson. This film’s third director, Powers, is the only Black director with a film on this list.
As on the 2018 film, Shameik Moore voices Miles, starring alongside Hailee Steinfeld, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Vélez, Jake Johnson, Jason Schwartzman, Issa Rae, Daniel Kaluuya, Mahershala Ali, Oscar Isaac and others.
Sony began developing a sequel to Into the Spider-Verse even before that film’s 2018 release. With a run-time of 140 minutes, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is the longest animated film ever produced by an American studio. A third installment in the trilogy, Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse, and a female-focused spin-off, Spider-Woman, are both in development.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie
Domestic Gross: $574.3 million
Release Date: April 5
Director: Aaron Horvath, Michael Jelenic
Music: Brian Tyler
Notes:The Super Mario Bros. Movie is based on Nintendo’s Mario video game franchise. The ensemble voice cast includes Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Day, Jack Black, Keegan-Michael Key, Seth Rogen and Fred Armisen.
After the critical and (relative) commercial failure of the live-action film Super Mario Bros. (which grossed $20.9 million domestically to become the No. 74 box-office hit of 1993), Nintendo became reluctant to license its intellectual properties for film adaptations. Good thing the company reconsidered.
Domestic Gross: $575.4 million
Release Date: July 21
Director: Greta Gerwig
Music: Mark Ronson, Andrew Wyatt
Notes: This film, based on a phenomenally successful fashion doll which Mattel launched in 1959, was announced way back in September 2009. It went through numerous changes in studios, writers, directors and actors on its way to this year’s commercial and critical bonanza. Amy Schumer and Anne Hathaway were, at various points, cast in the lead role, while Gal Gadot turned down the role due to scheduling conflicts, before Margot Robbie finally got the part, with Ryan Gosling in tow as her faithful (if comically frustrated) boyfriend, Ken. The supporting ensemble includes America Ferrera, Kate McKinnon, Helen Mirren, Issa Rae, Simu Liu, Michael Cera, Rhea Perlman and Will Ferrell.
In addition to being the top-grossing film in the U.S. so far in 2023, this is the top-grossing film in the U.S. directed or co-directed by a woman.