“Barbenheimer” reached box office gold. The social media-driven merger of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer brought record-breaking box office admissions back to theaters this weekend, far outpacing screenings and giving a glimmer of hope to an ailing film industry.
Posted at 2:43pm, updated at 6:05pm.
Lindsey Bahr Associated Press
Warner Bros.’ Barbie won first place and has grossed 155 million in North American theaters to date in 4,243 theaters, beating The Super Mario Bros. Movie (along with all of this year’s Marvel movies) for the biggest release of the year. It also broke the first weekend box office record for a film directed by a woman.
Universal’s “Oppenheimer” also exceeded expectations, grossing $80.5 million in 3,610 theaters across the United States and Canada. This is the highest score for a Christopher Nolan film outside of the Batman franchise. Biographical dramas rated R (prohibited for those under 17 who are not accompanied by an adult) rarely enjoy such a big hit with audiences from the first weekend.
Oppenheimer has general registration in Quebec.
This is the first time two films have surpassed 80 million in the same weekend. If this trend continues, it will likely become the fourth-largest box office weekend, grossing over $300 million for the industry as a whole.
The Barbenheimer phenomenon may have started out as a good-natured contest between two aesthetic opposites, but as many hoped, both films ultimately benefited. Internationally, Barbie earned $182 million across 69 territories, resulting in a worldwide weekend of $337 million. Oppenheimer earned $93.7 million across 78 territories, beating even Barbie in India for a global total of $174.2 million.
The only real casualty of this phenomenon was Mission: Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One, which saw its second-weekend earnings drop 64% despite good reviews and a strong opening weekend. Overshadowed by the “Barbenheimer” bombing and the loss of its IMAX screens to Oppenheimer, Tom Cruise’s vehicle increased sales by 19.5 million, taking the national total to 118.8 million.
“Barbenheimer” is not just counter-programming either. However, while there was some overlap in the enthusiastic moviegoers, the audiences were broadly different.
Barbie’s historical success is largely attributed to women, who make up 65% of the audience, according to PostTrak, and 40% of ticket buyers were under 25 for the 13+ (Quebec general admission) film.
“It’s just a joyful time in the world. “That’s the story in a lot of ways,” said Jeff Goldstein, president of national sales for Warner Bros. I think this marketing campaign is unforgettable and will be remembered forever. »
Oppenheimer’s audience was 62% male and 63% over 25, with a somewhat surprising 32% aged between 18 and 24.
Barbie and Oppenheimer received good reviews from critics, scoring 90% and 94% respectively on Rotten Tomatoes, and audiences gave both films an A rating on CinemaScore.
“The ‘Barbenheimer’ thing was a real lift for both films,” Goldstein said. This is a crowning achievement for all of us. »
Oppenheimer had the vast majority (80%) of the high-end large format displays. About 25 theaters in North America offered 70mm IMAX screenings (Christopher Nolan’s favorite format), most of which sold out throughout the weekend, accounting for 2% of total gross. In fact, to keep up with demand, theaters rushed to add more theaters, including 1am and 6am shows, which also sold out.
It’s the comeback weekend Hollywood has been dreaming of since the pandemic. There were some big openings and hits: Spider-Man: No Way Home, Top Gun: Maverick, Avatar: The Way of Water, among others, but the fact that two films hit theaters at the same time is remarkable.
And yet a catastrophe looms in the background: Hollywood studios continue to argue with striking actors and authors.
Barbie and Oppenheimer were the last films on the 2023 schedule to get a major global press tour. Both films went until the eleventh hour trying to enjoy every moment with their stars. Oppenheimer even pushed his London premiere forward by an hour, knowing that Emily Blunt, Matt Damon and Cillian Murphy would have to leave before the film started to symbolically join the picket line.
With no movie stars to promote their films, the studios have begun delaying some planned fall releases, including high-profile tennis drama Challengers, which stars Zendaya.
But for now it’s just a positive story that could go on for weeks.