‘Barbie’ Earns Stunning $150 Million-Plus Box Office Opening; ‘Oppenheimer’ Launches to $77 Million

In a summer that has often been a boon for theaters but a struggle for studios, Warner Bros.’ “Barbie” and Universal’s “Oppenheimer” have given the box office a weekend that is a resounding triumph for everyone as overall totals are set to reach the highest of any weekend since the 2019 opening weekend of “Avengers: Endgame.”

“Barbie” is leading the way with an utterly spectacular $70 million opening day and an opening weekend of at least $150 million, the highest Fri.-Sun. weekend total earned this year. Universal’s “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” earned $144 million on its first weekend, though it launched on a Wednesday ahead of Easter and took in $204 million over five days.

As it stands, “Barbie” would rank fifth on Warner Bros.’ all-time opening weekend charts before inflation adjustment. If it keeps overperforming estimates, it could pass $160.8 million opening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in 2012, and get within within reach of Warner’s record of $169.1 million for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II” in 2011.

Lifted by arguably the most successful movie marketing campaign since the end of pandemic theater closures, “Barbie” has become the rare blockbuster event driven primarily by adult female audiences, as 65% of the film’s opening day audience were women, according to CinemaScore polls.

It remains to be seen whether “Barbie” can leg out like a summer tentpole or if it will be more frontloaded like past hit films driven primarily by women like “Twilight.” But with an A on CinemaScore and Rotten Tomatoes scores of 90% for both critics and audiences, “Barbie” has the early signs of strong post-release buzz and a good chance of winning repeat viewings from moviegoers that embrace its meta humor and satirical commentary.

Meanwhile, Christopher Nolan is proving once again why he is one of the most potent box office draws among directors with “Oppenheimer,” which is earning an excellent $77 million opening weekend from 3,610 locations. Only “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises” have earned higher launches in Nolan’s career, as this sobering three-hour biopic about the father of the atomic bomb has topped the unadjusted $62.7 million opening of “Inception” in 2010.

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Simply matching the $50.5 million opening of Nolan’s 2017 film “Dunkirk” would have been a win for Universal, which spent a reported $200 million in combined production and marketing on “Oppenheimer.”

But like “Barbie,” Universal boosted Nolan’s name recognition with a strong marketing campaign that sold this dialogue-heavy drama as a film that must be seen on the big screen, preferably on Imax, where the film has a guaranteed three weeks of exclusive play and where “Oppenheimer” has earn 27% of its estimated opening weekend gross, with 49% coming from all premium formats.

And of course, “Oppenheimer” got some help from the endless memes connecting it to “Barbie,” at least raising awareness of the film among moviegoers who usually wouldn’t seek out dramatic prestige fare with Oscar potential even if they aren’t doing the “Barbenheimer” double feature.

But like “Barbie,” “Oppenheimer” is winning over audiences. After a 2022 in which films about real world issues largely fell by the wayside, the bleak and chilling “Oppenheimer” has earned an A on CinemaScore along with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 93% critics and 94% audience. The result is an opening weekend that is just beating the $73 million opening of fellow R-rated film “John Wick: Chapter 4” earlier this year.

Among holdovers, Angel Studios’ breakout hit “Sound of Freedom” has the chance to do something truly remarkable and top the second weekend of Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning.” Currently, “Mission: Impossible 7” has the edge for the No. 3 spot on the charts with $21 million, but industry estimates have “Sound of Freedom” just behind it with $20 million.

More to come…

Barbie Movie Trailer Margot Robbie

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