None of this is to say that studios haven’t done stuff like this in the past. As Variety’s article points out, Warner Bros. did something similar with Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” during the height of the pandemic to help inflate its $20 million opening weekend. Similarly, Paramount held preview showings of “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” earlier this year, which counted towards its opening weekend haul of $38.5 million.
Whatever the case, Warner Bros. is in victory lap mode, as “Barbie” has now made $1.34 billion worldwide and is the studio’s biggest movie ever. For Sony, it’s all about scoring a win the studio truly needs. Outside of the incredible performance of “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” they’ve had a rough year, with movies like “65,” “Big George Foreman,” and “The Machine” dramatically underperforming. Even Jennifer Lawrence’s R-rated comedy “No Hard Feelings” fell a little short of expectations, taking in $86.6 million worldwide against a $45 million budget.
In the case of director Neill Blomkamp’s “Gran Turismo,” we’re talking about a movie with a $60 million budget — before marketing — that has thus far generated $53.9 million worldwide. With the cast unable to do press due to the ongoing strikes that have effectively shut down Hollywood, this movie has a long way to go before it will be able to turn a profit, at least during its theatrical run. Being able to say that the movie topped the box office helps with the optics and promotional campaign, so it’s easy to see why Sony is playing it the way they’re playing it, fair or not.
Both “Gran Turismo” and “Barbie” are in theaters now.