From Taylor Swift to ‘Barbie’—Women Are Shaping the Entertainment Economy

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With Barbie dominating movie theaters, and Taylor Swift and Beyoncé having two of the most talked about world tours going, women are spending billions of dollars in 2023.

This dominance in the entertainment industry stems from the desire to hear “intelligent and inspiring female stories,” according to one studio executive.

In fact, Swift’s Eras Tour has proved so popular that the U.S. Federal Reserve credited the singer with changing the economic fortunes of major cities across the country. Meanwhile, Beyoncé was recently blamed for the “stubbornly high inflation” in Sweden after performing there. Forbes has estimated both Swift and Beyoncé’s tours will gross billions of dollars each.

From left, Taylor Swift in Los Angeles in August 2023; Margot Robbie in Sydney, Australia, in June 2023; and Beyoncé performing in Warsaw, Poland, in June 2023. Swift, Robbie and Beyoncé have all experienced an incredibly successful 2023 so far thanks to their tours and movies.Emma McIntyre / James Gourley / Kevin Mazur/. / WireImage

While Hollywood was once accused of catering to the male audience, 2023’s biggest release could be one based on a 64-year-old doll. Barbie has already earned over $800 million at the worldwide box office, and industry experts are predicting it to overtake The Super Mario Bros. Movie and be the highest grossing film of the year.

But while entertainment catering to a female audience is now provenly popular, screenwriter Julie Bush said she doesn’t understand why executives didn’t realize this sooner.

“We are a vastly under-served audience. we’re 51 percent of the population. The majority [of] male executives think we don’t matter, don’t spend, don’t need to be marketed to,” Bush wrote on July 22, referring to the success of the Barbie movie released the day before. “Up to now, Hollywood did not think women were important. execs think the audience is men and boys and their moms / wives / girlfriends will see what they want to see.”

Bush pointed out that while girls were playing with Barbies when they were young, “y’all were busy playing with G.I. Joe toys.” The fact that Hollywood made three live action G.I. Joe movies (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Snake Eyes) before a Barbie movie perhaps backs up Bush’s point.

Above, an image of Barbie actress Margot Robbie at the European premiere of “Barbie” in London, England on July 12, 2023. JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via .

Therapist and author Sagit Schwartz responded to Bush and drew the parallel between Barbie’s fans and Swift’s. “You have to be living under a rock not to know what female Swifties are spending on Eras tickets. The federal reserve literally said the tour has boosted the economy. Barbie is another chance to dress up and bond but cheaper,” she wrote.

Swift is currently touring the U.S. for her Eras Tour, with each stop profiting as a result.

“Hosting a three-day Taylor Swift concert in downtown Indianapolis has the potential to be an economic game changer for local businesses, restaurants and hotels,” Adam Burtner, the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce’s vice president of government affairs, told Newsweek.

The Wall Street Journal called her impact “Taylornomics,” while Fortune called it the “TSwift Lift.”

The figures for Swift’s tour aren’t available yet, but another feminine icon, Beyoncé, has been raking it in on her Renaissance World Tour, according to various sources. Billboard estimated the singer made $154 million on the European leg of the tour, selling over 1 million tickets across the 21-show run. Like Swift, Beyoncé is now touring across North America where she’s expected to make millions more.

Beyoncé performs onstage during the “RENAISSANCE WORLD TOUR” at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on May 30, 2023 in London, England. Kevin Mazur/WireImage

In May, Forbes projected that Beyoncé’s Renaissance Tour would gross $2 billion in total while Swift’s Eras Tour will gross $1.6 billion.

“From Barbie’s massive box office opening to Taylor Swift’s sold out Eras tour, 2023 has been a major marketing success to female audiences,” Laura Pellegrini, producer and vice president of Rosso Films International, told Newsweek.

“In large part, the success stems from the desire to see more films and hear more music that is focused on intelligent and inspiring female stories. When done skillfully, this type of art has the ability to merge both male and female audiences alike, rather than pit them against each other.” Pellegrini continued. “For example, director Greta Gerwig did not intend Barbie to be an anti-male film; instead, she uses the story to raise thoughtful questions around gender stereotypes. This is why the film has been a success across the board.”

Pellegrini’s point that Barbie has appealed to all genders is proven by a recent poll conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies for Newsweek.

Taylor Swift performs onstage during “Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour” at SoFi Stadium on August 03, 2023 in Inglewood, California.Emma McIntyre / TAS23/.

When asked if all the hype around the Barbie movie mattered to them, 64 percent of women sampled said it mattered to them in some form. That number didn’t drop off too much to the men asked, as 63 percent said that the Barbie movie mattered to them too.

“Ultimately, good art will always win out, and if that means having more filmmakers like Greta Gerwig leading the charge, then that’s a good sign of things to come,” Pellegrini said.

The success of Barbie, Swift and Beyoncé are positives for female audiences, but singer Ellis Melillo thinks that shouldn’t change an artist’s output.

“As a female singer I think what Beyoncé and Taylor Swift are doing is absolutely amazing. It’s still important to focus on all audiences,” Melillo told Newsweek. “As far as Barbie goes, I don’t think it’s a pivot as much as just a centering. I think the point of the movie was to unite us and make everyone realize that all humans are complex and deep and working through things.”

The movie industry loves to follow a trend though, and we’ve seen a number of trends develop in the 21st century alone. Vampire movies, superhero crossovers and multiversal films have all had their time in the spotlight. At the very least we know that Mattel is planning more toy-based movies but perhaps the massive success of Barbie will prove to be a turning point in the entertainment industry, with more female-centric films on the way.

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