Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” and Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” signal the glorious rebirth of theatrical releases, earning a staggering $337 million and $174.2 million respectively on their opening weekends worldwide.
The most anticipated movies of the season just dropped and are already breaking box office records. Greta Gerwig’s Barbie grossed $155 million domestically, while Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer came second with an impressive $80.5 million.
Together, the films grossed an estimated $235.5 million within the U.S., making their opening weekend the fourth-highest in history. The three films that precede them are sequels in popular franchises, namely Avengers: Endgame, Avengers: Infinity War, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
However, If one counted their worldwide earnings, the number would rise to a jaw-dropping $511 million, according to Deadline. That’s another $182 million abroad for Barbie, and $93.7 million for Oppenheimer.
The Barbenheimer Phenomenon
Both films seem to be the only things everyone is talking about at the moment. They were scheduled to premiere on the same day, leading to the internet phenomenon fans refer to as “Babenheimer” (and yes, there’s an entire Wikipedia page solely devoted to defining the term).
The appeal lies in the comedic juxtaposition of both works, one a glittery pink piece on womanhood and the other a three-hour long historical drama behind the devastating creation of the nuclear bomb. Rather than pitting the two works against each other, moviegoers created their own mega event that celebrates them both—with many opting to watch the films back-to-back.
In a recent article, Variety called the entire situation a “full-fledged box office phenomenon.” Indeed, with a stream of ectatic audiences hitting the theaters, the two films are creating history together.
The Future of Film
The Barbenheimer phenomenon is a good omen for the film industry, especially after it took a severe hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. Both films have the biggest box office opening weekends since the global epidemic, as per a report from Variety.
Most astounding of all is that Barbie and Oppenheimer are entirely original works. One might notice that films with big box office openings tend to be sequels to already famous franchises.
“People recognized that something special was happening and they wanted to be a part of it,” explained Michael O’Leary, CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners, to CNBC. “It was a truly historic weekend and continues the positive box office momentum of 2023. More importantly, it proves once again that America loves going to the movies to see great films.”
Despite the unfortunate working conditions within Hollywood, the success of these films shines a light of hope on the possibilities and future of original cinema.
“The unprecedented performance of these two films, and the boost it gave to the overall movie marketplace, solidified the movie theater as a cultural hub and epicenter of social interaction,” added Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, in the same CNBC article.
Barbie currently holds a 90% “Certified Fresh” rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, with the same score from audiences as well. Meanwhile, Oppenheimer is also “Certified Fresh” with a 94% score from both critics and viewers.
Banner photo edited by Agatha Romero, photos from IMDb and @oppenheimermovie via Instagram.