Barbie and Oppenheimer Dominate Box Office with Strong Openings
In a summer movie season that has largely failed to keep spirits up, two bona fide blockbusters are showing that everyone can be a winner. Warner Bros. Discovery’s “Barbie” and Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” are both putting up box office openings to remember.
The number one movie in North America is “Barbie.” After scoring $22.2 million on Thursday, the highest preview ticket sales of the year, the big screen bonanza about Mattel’s marquee doll kept the superlatives going on Friday, adding another $48.2 million from 4,243 theaters. That’s a $70.5 million total — the biggest opening day of the year, blasting past the $51.8 million earned by “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” in June.
The pink wave may not stop there, as “Barbie” now looks to score the biggest three-day debut of 2023. In the crosshairs is another branding flex — “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” which landed $146.3 million in three days in April. Gerwig’s “Barbie” also has a shot at scoring the biggest opening weekend ever for a feature with a female director. “Captain Marvel,” co-helmed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, earned $153 million in its 2019 opening. The record for a feature solely directed by a woman is currently held by Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman” at $103 million, which “Barbie” will easily surpass.
“Barbie” may be winning the weekend, but “Oppenheimer” is still impressing. Playing in 3,610 locations, the sweeping biopic earned $33 million on its opening day, which includes $10.5 million in Thursday previews. “Oppenheimer” is now looking to rank among the biggest opening weekends ever for an R-rated release. The film is currently projecting $77 million through Sunday, which would put it behind only “The Passion of the Christ” ($83 million) among the highest openings ever for a non-IP R-rated film.
The Nolan feature is also strongly benefitting from its showtimes in Imax auditoriums and other premium formats, which come with increased ticket prices. The filmmaker has a longstanding relationship with Imax, shooting large fractions of his features with the company’s heavy-duty cameras. “Oppenheimer” is shaping up to be the third-biggest opening of Nolan’s career, behind “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises.”
On top of that, Nolan features tend to stick around in theaters. “Interstellar” and “Dunkirk” nearly quadrupled their opening weekend numbers in their final domestic earnings. Even “Tenet” legged out to $58.5 million after its wide release debut of $9 million — in a time before a widely distributed COVID vaccine no less. “Oppenheimer” has drawn some of the strongest reviews of Nolan’s career, but — even more encouraging — audiences seem to have truly taken to the despairing three-hour epic, as inferred by the sterling “A” grade through Cinema Score. With strong buzz and already some good fortunes for awards season, “Oppenheimer” has the right stuff to keep drawing audiences in.
The film follows the life of physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, played by Cillian Murphy, who was tapped by the U.S. military to spearhead the construction of the first atomic bomb. Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Casey Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Benny Safdie, Kenneth Branagh, Rami Malek and many others also star.