Poll: Nearly 90% of Americans know about 'Barbie,' but Democrats twice as likely as Republicans to have actually seen movie

Gender gap between male and female audiences not as stark as the political divide, according to exclusive Yahoo/YouGov data.

BARBIE, from left: Ryan Gosling, Margot Robbie, 2023. © Warner Bos./Courtesy Everett Collection
Ryan Gosling Margot Robbie in Barbie (Warner Bos./Courtesy Everett Collection)

Barbie's takeover is nearly complete.

Nearly every American is aware of the blockbuster movie, according to a new Yahoo Entertainment/YouGov poll.

A whopping 88% of the 1,665 U.S. adults surveyed say they have heard at least “a little” about the Warner Bros. and Mattel-spawned comedy, while 39% say they’ve heard “a lot.”

That’s not entirely surprising given Barbie has just passed The Super Mario Bros. Movie as the highest-grossing film of 2023. Since its July 21 debut, the Margot Robbie- and Ryan Gosling-starring megahit has earned $575 million in the U.S. and nearly $1.3 billion worldwide.

There’s still some money on the table, too. Only 14% of those polled between Aug. 17 and Aug. 21 had actually seen the movie. Warner Bros. is tempting fans back with a new Imax cut of the film with additional post-credits footage.

Barbie has become not just a cinematic but a social phenomenon, as theaters have been packed with enthusiastic crowds, many donning the doll-turned-movie heroine’s signature pink clothing.

While the film gleefully sends up the patriarchy, the audience’s gender divide is not as stark as conventional wisdom might make it seem. Female respondents were more likely to have seen the film at 17%, but males weren’t far behind at 11%. (According to polling site PostTrak, females made up 65% of opening weekend audiences.)

The greater divide comes in political affiliation, as Democrats (20%) are more than twice as likely to have seen the movie than Republicans (9%).

The film’s sociopolitical and feminist themes became an especially hot-button issue in the days after its release, as conservative pundits like Ben Shapiro (“flaming garbage heap of a film”), Jack Posobiec (“man-hating Woke propaganda fest”) and Charlie Kirk (“the most disgusting thing I've ever seen”) trashed the film.

But they were the outliers. According to the Yahoo Entertainment/YouGov poll, relatively few Americans are engaged in any such political points of contention about Barbie.

Although 13% of those polled do say the new movie has a “mostly negative influence on women and girls” and twice as many (27%) say it has a mostly positive influence, most respondents had neither a positive or negative influence (18%) or are not sure (31%).

And while slightly more Americans think the movie depicts men fairly (19%) than unfairly (15%) far more are not sure (54%) or have heard nothing about the movie (12%).

Co-writer and director Greta Gerwig largely downplayed the film’s political messages in a pre-release interview with Yahoo Entertainment, saying she never intended them to be overt.

“It’s like when you order a regular margarita, and then you realize while you’re drinking it that it’s a spicy margarita,” Gerwig told us. “That was kind of the way I wanted it to be. But those are the movies I love so much. [The films of] Ernst Lubitsch and Preston Sturges and Howard Hawks. Movies that are soufflés, but there’s a lot underneath them that’s deep, it’s just not presented that way."


The Yahoo Entertainment survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,665 U.S. adults interviewed online from Aug. 17 to 21, 2023. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to Nov. 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 27% Republican). Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. adults. The margin of error is approximately 2.8%.