Warner Bros. Shouldn't Celebrate Barbie Just Yet, Their Next Woke Film Is Projected to Lose $200M


“Barbenheimer” worked — and for a moment, you might be tempted to think that wokeness and brokenness didn’t have to go hand-in-hand.

In what’s likely to be the biggest box-office weekend in quite some time, Warner Bros. Entertainment’s “Barbie” had the best opening day of the year, grossing $70.5 million total according to Variety. That’s quite the take for a movie that, to quote the Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro, “unironically uses the word ‘patriarchy’ more than 10 times.”

Combined with Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” — which took home $33 million on its opening day, not bad for an R-rated film which deals with the man behind the Manhattan Project — and things are looking rosy again for media conglomerates and the box office. It’s like “The Flash” and “Elemental” never happened!

Well, lest Warner Bros. get smug about the opening to the Greta Gerwig-directed Barbie film and think that it’s all smiles, lollipops and wokeness, it should consider the $200 million loss it likely has coming down the pike, thanks in no small part to yet another DC Comics franchise bust which emphasizes its identity politics.

“Blue Beetle,” which features one of the lesser lights of the DC Extended Universe, is expected to have an opening weekend of $12 million to $17 million, according to Hollywood-centric outlet Box Office Pro. The total domestic range for the film is projected to come in at $27 million to $55 million.

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The outlet noted that “[a]ppeal to Latinx families could be notable, particularly with the back half of the summer and early fall seeing a relative lack of youth-friendly content hitting the big screen.” That’s because both the stars and their characters are Latino. (I’m choosing, as most Latinos do, not to use that dreadful neologism.)

Therein lies the problem: “With all the additional and marketing costs, which are officially unknown, but assumed, the movie would need to make at least $250 million, perhaps even $300 million, just to break even without any profit,” Comic Basics noted.

There’s always the international box office, but they’re probably not as interested as a film where part of the appeal is identitarian. (As Breitbart’s John Nolte noted,  “The morons at Warner Bros. spent $120 million on this movie and then stupidly sold it as an affirmative-action movie.”)

Similarly, even comic book fans might want to skip it, given that the trailer managed to get almost everyone angry when one of the characters calls Batman a “fascist.”

Will theaters finally get the message to dump the wokeness?

Director Angel Manuel Soto initially encountered pushback when he tweeted, in response to fan anger, “My job here is done” with a GIF of Barack Obama dropping a mic and “Well, my job is done” with a GIF of “He-Man” character Skeletor, respectively.

He would later change his tune, telling “people who got mad at it, give us a chance.”

“We’re just trying to have fun with the characters that we love,” Soto said, according to Bounding Into Comics.

“And everyone in our movie loves Batman and Superman and Flash.

“And of course, we have criticisms about all of them, as we all should,” he continued. “But that doesn’t mean we hate Batman. We love Batman.”

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Yeah, I don’t think his job is quite done. Add to that the fact that “Blue Beetle” has a late-summer opening date of Aug. 18, which seldom augurs well for box office returns, and this could end up being a bigger disaster than “The Flash” — which, mind you, was already a pretty big disaster.

According to Collider, that superhero movie — starring troubled “nonbinary” actor Ezra Miller — would go on to “lose the studio almost $200 million.” Assume that “Blue Beetle” meets a similar fate, coming in on the low side of estimates for stateside box office and disappointing worldwide, as well. Even with a more modest budget, it could still be a failure.

And keep in mind, “Barbie” still has to make in the neighborhood of $300 million just to break even, given its budget and the heavy promotional outlays for it. Then think about the fact that, added to the woke “Flash” and “Blue Beetle” movies, it’ll have to make somewhere in the neighborhood of $700 million to erase those failures off of the ledger.

For it to really make hay out of a bad summer movie season, therefore, Barbie needs to take in $70 million for every confirmed use of the word “patriarchy” by Ben Shapiro. Do you see a rah-rah-feminism movie that seems to genuinely loathe the toy that inspired it having legs like that?

Going woke is still going broke. Ask Disney, which is cutting thousands of jobs and billions in spending. It’s not just that people aren’t returning to theaters in the same numbers after the pandemic, it’s that studios have become insufferable about messaging in their films.

Nobody wants to go to a superhero film to get scolded by one of the characters about one of the most bankable superheroes there is being a fascist. Likewise, nobody wants to go see “The Flash” just because they picked a man who insists on being addressed as “they/them” (and numerous judges from Hawaii to Vermont will have had a chance to use those pronouns once Miller is done, one suspects).

And while the neon-pink palette and incessant marketing might get good results on the first weekend, it’s difficult to foresee splendid results for a film that alienates about half of its potential audience with its messaging. There’s not going to be a “Barbenheimer” pseudo-event every weekend, after all.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture