Barbie’s Historic Debut Leads Barbenheimer Phenomenon with Oppenheimer’s Strong Start

Barbie vs Oppenheimer

In a groundbreaking weekend at the box office, the Barbenheimer phenomenon took center stage as two highly-anticipated movies made a historic splash. Filmmaker Greta Gerwig’s female-led Barbie shattered expectations, opening to an astonishing $155 million domestically. This extraordinary figure is usually reserved for male-driven superhero blockbusters or well-established franchises, making Barbie’s triumph all the more impressive.

Greta Gerwig’s Barbie Sets New Records

Barbie margot robbie
Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Bringing Mattel’s iconic fashion doll to life, Barbie dazzled not only in the domestic market but also showed immense promise in certain overseas territories with a projected international debut of up to $120 million.

In North America, Barbie claimed the title for the biggest domestic opening ever for a movie directed by a woman, a monumental achievement for representation in the film industry. Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, the stars of the movie, also saw their biggest three-day opening for a film, further adding to the movie’s success.

Barbie’s stellar performance didn’t stop there; it broke several other records, including securing the top opening of 2023 to date, surpassing other major releases like The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.

This achievement highlights the rarity of movies reaching the $100 million milestone in recent times.

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Nolan’s Oppenheimer Gets a Strong Debut

Image: Universal Pictures

Challenging Barbie’s dominance was Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, a thought-provoking three-hour historical drama centered around J. Robert Oppenheimer and the making of the atomic bomb. Despite its lengthy runtime and serious subject matter, Oppenheimer exceeded expectations, opening to a commendable $80.5 million.

This marked Nolan’s third-biggest domestic debut, standing just behind The Dark Knight Rises and The Dark Knight, two of his most acclaimed films.

Internationally, Oppenheimer demonstrated its global appeal, earning an impressive $93.7 million, resulting in a total global start of $174.2 million. For a movie with a production budget of $100 million, these figures bode well for its future success.

Barbenheimer Takes Hollywood by Storm

The unexpected success of both Barbie and Oppenheimer on the same weekend led to a phenomenon dubbed “Barbenheimer,” showcasing the box office’s potential for a resurgence.

The combined ticket sales for the two movies approached a staggering $305 million, making this the fourth-biggest weekend of all time in terms of revenue.

This achievement is particularly significant as it comes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that brought the entertainment industry to its knees.

Did Barbenheimer Just Save the Movie Industry?

The Barbenheimer phenomenon provided a much-needed boost to the film industry, which has been grappling with the ongoing writers and actors strike. The strike has caused concern among theater owners that studios might delay their fall and winter releases if actors are unable to promote their films effectively.

However, with the impressive box office results from Barbenheimer, there is renewed hope for the industry’s recovery.

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Audiences Embrace Both Films

Both Barbie and Oppenheimer were well-received by audiences and critics alike. U.S. audiences gave both films an A CinemaScore, indicating their satisfaction with the cinematic experience.

On Rotten Tomatoes, Barbie holds an impressive 90 percent critics’ score, while Oppenheimer is not far behind at 93 percent. This positive reception further cements the success of these two groundbreaking films.

As the industry navigates the aftermath of the pandemic and continues to deal with the effects of the writers and actors strike, the success of Barbenheimer serves as a beacon of hope. It shows that audiences are eager to return to theaters for captivating storytelling and exceptional filmmaking.

With Barbie and Oppenheimer leading the charge, the box office is poised for a triumphant comeback, offering new opportunities and possibilities for filmmakers and moviegoers alike.

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