‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer’ Both Receive A Grades from CinemaScore as Fans Flock to Double Features

Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” and Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” entered their opening weekend with impossibly lofty expectations. In addition to being highly anticipated works from A-list auteurs, the two films were burdened with salvaging a disappointing summer box office after films like “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” and “Elemental” failed to catch on as cultural phenomena. Strong early tracking and endless “Barbenheimer” memes about seeing the wildly divergent films as a double feature turned this into the biggest movie weekend of the summer.

While the box office numbers are still rolling in, moviegoers who saw the films are walking away satisfied. CineScore has revealed that both films received “A” grades from fans after opening on Friday.

CinemaScore grades are widely interpreted as a barometer of how well a film lined up with its audience’s expectations. It’s not uncommon for poorly reviewed films to receive excellent grades, as the poll contributors are people who were already interested enough to pay to see the movie. Conversely, acclaimed films can receive negative CinemaScore grades for making bold choices that subverted audience expectations.

Benny Safdie in "Licorice Pizza"

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 15: Jamie Foxx attends the "Creed III" European Premiere at Cineworld Leicester Square on February 15, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Joe Maher/Getty Images)

While “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” are two of the bolder studio films being released in 2023, their marketing campaigns never promised a conventional moviegoing experience. Trailers and posters for “Barbie” teased an absurdist, tongue-in-cheek take on the Mattel toy line. Critics were quick to declare that the finished product delivered on that promise.

“Gerwig and [Noah] Baumbach find both humor and nuance in everything from mini-fridges to the Matchbox Twenty hit ‘Push,’ the male urge to explain ‘The Godfather’ to the Supreme Court, the limits of modern feminism to neon-bright Rollerblades,” IndieWire’s Kate Erbland wrote in her review. “Barbie isn’t just everything, ‘Barbie’ is everything.”

And while the prevalence of Cillian Murphy’s face in the “Oppenheimer” marketing materials was occasionally mocked, Universal made no attempt to hide that it was releasing a cerebral Christopher Nolan biopic.

“’Oppenheimer,’ offers an indelible portrait of the age when people began wielding power they couldn’t necessarily control, and few movies have so disturbingly crystallized the horror of opening Pandora’s box,” IndieWire’s David Ehrlich wrote in his review of the film. “Even fewer have better detailed anxiety of living in a world where it can never be closed again.”

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