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‘Gran Turismo’ takes weekend box office crown over ‘Barbie’ after all

The box office results are in and Sony’s racing movie “Gran Turismo” won the weekend over “Barbie,” after all.

On Sunday, “ Gran Turismo” appeared to be neck-and-neck with Warner Bros.' “Barbie,” now in its sixth weekend, with both hovering just over $17 million. But Monday actuals reported by the studios provided a clear winner: “Gran Turismo” ended up with $17.4 million from North American theaters against “Barbie’s” $15.1 million.

As is usually the case with new wide releases, “Gran Turismo’s” total also included earnings from Thursday night pre-shows ($1.4 million). More unconventionally, however, Sony also factored in $3.9 million from other preview screenings (or “sneaks”) held before Thursday — a less commonly used but still standard practice.

“Gran Turismo” was originally set for a wide release on Aug. 11, but with actors unable to help promote the film as the actors strike stretches on, Sony pivoted and instead opted for limited preview screenings and fan events for two weeks, leading up to a national rollout this past weekend.

It was an unusual weekend in multiplexes. U.S. movie theaters held the second annual National Cinema Day on Sunday, offering $4 tickets to all films and showtimes at nearly all of the country’s theaters. This might have been part of the reason why the Sunday estimate for “Barbie” was perhaps a bit too bullish at $7.75 million, compared to its actual Sunday total of $5.7 million.

“Barbie” may have technically sold more tickets this weekend, but studios do not report on individual admissions in North America. The day-to-day tallies show “Barbie” with the edge on Saturday and Sunday, however. On Saturday, “Barbie” made $5.4 million against “Gran Turismo” at $4.1 million. Sunday, “Barbie” also made more ($5.7 million versus compared to $4.7 million for “Gran Turismo”).

The main difference was Friday, which for “Gran Turismo” was reported to be $8.6 million (again, including the pre-show and preview totals) versus $4 million for “Barbie” on Friday (which does not include Thursday night earnings).

It's a reminder that Sunday box office estimates are just estimates and that the movies pitted against each other in weekend “races” aren't always operating under the same rules.