David Zaslav Hails ‘Barbie’ Director Greta Gerwig as an ‘Extraordinary Genius’

David Zaslav, president and CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, gave Greta Gerwig her flowers on Wednesday at Goldman Sachs Communacopia + Technology. Considering the box office for “Barbie,” a few dozen (pink) roses was probably the very least he could do.

“Greta Gerwig gets the most credit. She’s an extraordinary genius,” Zaslav said when asked by a Goldman Sachs analyst what lessons Warner Bros. took from what is now the no. 1 film of the year.

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Zaslav added that Gerwig “worked very effectively” and “right down to the wire” with the Warner Bros. Pictures marketing team.

“Every division of this company got behind ‘Barbie,'” he said. “Every asset that we have was turned pink.”

Zaslav means that both literally and figuratively. He had Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, Kenny “The Jet” Smith, and Ernie Johnson talking “Barbie” on “Inside the NBA.” If you watched a futbol match in Sweden, the field turned pink during halftime. HGTV had an entire competition series building a life-sized Barbie Dream House. And as Zaslav put it, “every cake on Food Network for a month was pink.”

“When we get something we believe in, we can really drive it,” he said.

To date, “Barbie” grossed $1.38 billion at the global box office. It surpassed what is now 2023’s no. 2 movie, Universal’s “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” ($1.35 billion globally) on Saturday. It’s also by far the highest-grossing domestic release of the year, pulling in $612.3 million and spending four weeks at no. 1.

The “Barbie” run is far from over. It lands on PVOD streaming to own ($29.99) and to rent ($24.99) on September 12, and later will land on Max . It will also have a special one-week run on IMAX screens starting Sept. 22, which should bolster the box office even further. We projected it could reach $1.53 billion, give or take $50 million, and about $675 million, +/- $25 million, by the time its run is over. Premium pricing for IMAX certainly will help that, and who knows if it comes back for more around Oscar season. Anne Thompson has it pegged today at landing nine nominations.

Gerwig is now one of only two solo female filmmakers who had a movie open above $100 million at the box office, the other being “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins. In speaking with IndieWire when the film opened, Gerwig explained that it’s very “meaningful” to her to be included in that company.

“There’s no way we would’ve been able to make this movie if [Jenkins] hadn’t made “Wonder Woman” and it was successful. That’s just true,” she said. “So one thing that I’ve been thinking about, and feeling the joy we felt reflected in audiences, is thinking, “Well, if it works, maybe it’s easier for the next person.”

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