'Barbie' breaks records in some UAE cinemas; thousands of tickets sold on day 1 of screening

Some of the early birds were families who have long been waiting to see the iconic doll come to life in her perfectly pink Barbie Land


Nasreen Abdulla

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Photo by Nasreen Abdulla
Photo by Nasreen Abdulla

Published: Thu 10 Aug 2023, 11:38 AM

Last updated: Thu 10 Aug 2023, 4:28 PM

Barbie has been released in the UAE, with thousands of tickets sold and many shows fully booked. According to some theatres, the movie has been breaking records.

“We’ve seen an unprecedented surge in advance ticket purchases, prompting us to add extra showtimes to accommodate the high demand, leading to sold-out screenings,” said Murray Rea, Director of Operations at Roxy Cinemas. “We have showtimes scheduled every 30 minutes.”

“The film has broken all records including Oppenheimer, Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning – Part One and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. In light of this, we expect Barbie to open to full houses this weekend and look forward to hosting guests at our many screenings across all locations,” he said.

Cinephiles trooped into theatres all around the country where shows started as early as 10am.

At Dubai Mall, the entire area of Reel Cinema looked pink. With pink posters and life-sized cutouts at every turn, cinema-goers posed for photos before watching the movie.

Even snack boxes and lifts were dressed for the occasion.

Some of the early visitors were families.

Emirati siblings Aisha, Jamal, and Hala had been waiting for the movie to be released in the UAE. “From the time it was released globally, we had been waiting for it,” said Aisha. “As kids, Hala and I used to play with Barbie dolls, so we wanted to watch the movie.”

Jamal added that he was "bribed" to be there. “I am not a big fan of Barbie but they said they would pay for my snacks, so here I am,” he said.

Age limit

Meanwhile, theatre representatives confirmed that no one under the age of 15 would be permitted entry into the movie hall. “It is strictly above-15 in all our theatres across the GCC,” said a ticketing official.

Currently, it is unclear whether all movie theatres will adopt such a strict stance. Another entertainment provider has put up a notification on its website, saying that children between the ages of 5 and 18 will be allowed to watch the movie if they are accompanied by an adult.

Vox Cinemas at Mall of the Emirates also refused to grant entry to those under the age of 15 for the Barbie movie.

For Malaysian expat Siti and her children, disappointment was on the cards as they were not permitted to watch the movie.

“My daughter Zara is 5 and she is a huge Barbie fan,” said Siti. “So, we all came dressed for the movie, but we are really disappointed that we couldn’t enjoy it together.”

The movie, directed by Oscar-nominated writer/director Greta Gerwig based on the iconic doll released worldwide on July 9th worldwide and has created records as well as box office success by earning more than $1 billion. Starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling in the lead roles, the film is centered around the existential crisis Barbie faces when she steps out of her seemingly perfect world.

Korean national Hyeonji and her mother Janet had decided to come early to beat the crowds. “We knew that towards the afternoon and evening it would get really busy,” said Janet.

Hyeonji, who studies in the US, said she had come home to her parents in Dubai before the movie released in the US. “I am not a huge Barbie fan but when I heard the fanfare, I thought I’d check the movie out,” she said. The mother-daughter duo had heard of the movie releasing and decided to book tickets the previous night.


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