The simultaneous release of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer and Greta Gerwig’s Barbie has created one of the most staggeringly successful moments in recent film history.
- Barbie domestically grossed $155 million in its opening weekend, while Oppenheimer grossed $80.5 million—a combined domestic total of $235.5 million for both films.
- Alongside other releases, this weekend’s $302 million box office is the fourth-biggest in history and the largest box office weekend since the premiere of Avengers: Endgame.
- The global box office was even larger, with both films grossing a total of $511 million worldwide for their opening weekend.
- The combined release of both films will also likely make this past weekend the highest-grossing domestic box office weekend of 2023.
- A combined 18.5 million tickets were sold domestically for both movies, EntTelligence tells CNBC.
Why It’s Important
As we previously reported, the internet ‘Barbenheimer’ meme has propelled both new films into the public consciousness and skyrocketed presales for both films in the weeks leading up to Thursday night’s premiere. Early indications were conservative that they would perform well, but the shared hype and encouragement from both film’s cast and crew to support each other mutually reinforced the idea that audiences should see both movies on the opening weekend.
Their success is notable, as multiple high-profile films in recent months have underperformed, including Ant-Man And the Wasp: Quantumania, Fast X, The Flash, Elemental, Indiana Jones And the Dial Of Destiny, and Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning. Their success likely signals audiences crave more original films and less intellectual-property-driven (IP) franchise properties.
“Audiences are stating, in no uncertain terms, that IP and connected universes and sequels are not going to save theaters. The secret lies in investing in risky projects based on compelling ideas that challenge filmmakers and their audiences,” says Indiewire’s Tom Brueggemann.
The success of both films also stands against the current state of the film industry, with the majority of film and television productions currently on pause due to ongoing labor strikes from the writers’ and actors’ guilds surrounding the issues of artificial intelligence and residual payments for streaming performances.
The $155 million success of Barbie also stands as an achievement for women in filmmaking, with the Greta Gerwig-backed film becoming one of the largest ever premieres for a film from a female director—proving female-led and female-backed projects can not only compete but succeed in a male-dominated industry, Axios notes.
The release also has implications for global box office revenues in China, with Barbie only grossing $10 million in its first four days in theaters. With the Chinese entertainment industry recovering from recent market headwinds and showing signs of growing disinterest towards American films, this could signal the end of Hollywood’s romance with the Chinese box office, The Wall Street Journal notes.
With other major studio films like Haunted Mansion, Blue Beetle, TMNT: Mutant Mayhem, Equalizer 3, The Nun II, Kraven the Hunter, The Exorcist, The Marvels, and Wonka on the horizon this fall, it will be curious to see how these name-brand films compete against original releases like Martin Scorsese’s Killers Of the Flower Moon, Gareth Edward’s The Creator, Taika Waititi’s Next Goal Wins, Ridley Scott’s Napoleon, and Michael Mann’s Ferrari. The recent release of The Sound Of Freedom has shown that audiences are eager to go to bat for unconventional films this year.