The Phenomenon of Barbie: A Box Office Success and Toy Sales Boost

The Phenomenon of Barbie: A Box Office Success and Toy Sales Boost

The Curiosity Surrounding a Live-Action Barbie Movie

Whether audiences want to admit it or not, announcements first made in 2014 about a live-action Barbie movie in the works made moviegoers curious about how the Barbie World would look on the big screen. But, could the intentions of this movie also have been to further advertise the doll collection? On Semafor Business’s interview series On the Record, Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz answered the question of why Barbie was brought to theaters.

“We didn’t make this movie to sell more toys. It was about creating quality content that people want to watch. If people watch our content, and connect with it, good things will happen. We are collaborating with the best people out there and they run with the ball. It’s one thing for us to say, ‘we will make the next Hot Wheels movie.’ It’s another thing to say, ‘J.J. Abrams will make the next Hot Wheels movie.’”

Ynon Kreiz does have a point that Mattel doesn’t need help to get people to buy Barbie dolls. Ever since 1959, Barbie has been the most popular doll out there. She’s expanded into multiple careers, nationalities and races to represent all women. When Barbie was first in talks, people were very quick to bring hate onto the movie. Many already felt a movie centered on a live-action doll wouldn’t be entertaining, but it proved it took star power like Oscar-nominated director Greta Gerwig and famous actors like Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling to gain fan interest. Plus, Barbenheimer further motivated more people to sell out showtimes.

The Impact on Toy Sales

Maybe Barbie wasn’t made to increase the sales of toys, but it definitely didn’t hurt. According to CNN, Barbie toy sales went up 25% in July-August compared to that same length of time last year. This doll brand also had six of the top ten selling items in the doll category during that two-month period. While the Barbie dolls have been a top-selling item lately, they’ve also been a bit costly because of the movie. A doll collection inspired by the Warner Bros. movie costs $50. That basically means buying a few character-inspired dolls from this collection would cause you to spend hundreds of dollars. I guess that’s the price of what happens when toys and movies collaborate.

Expansion into Other Toy-Based Movies

Not only has Barbie inspired doll sales to rise, but Mattel Films has decided that Barbie is just the first of its toy-based movies in early production. One of those post-Barbie movies will be a Polly Pocket film, with Girls Lena Dunham as writer/director. There are also ones like Hot Wheels currently on the hunt for a director, Magic 8 Ball, Uno, Thomas the Tank Engine, a Daniel Kaluuya-produced live-action Barney and more. Ynon Kreiz further told On the Record that Mattel’s strategy to expand its toys into movies is a process that’s been done before by other toy companies, but Mattel Films’ plan is to use the concepts of their toys to come up with original stories, like what Barbie did.


Mattel’s intentions for making Barbie may not have been for the purpose of selling toys, but you can’t deny that the box office hit helped with toy sales and that other toy brands will follow suit once movies are made about them down the road. The 2023 movie release is still playing in theaters and is available to purchase digitally on Amazon.

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