‘Barbenheimer’ tops $235 million in domestic debut, eyes second-highest box office weekend ever

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Margot Robbie as Cillian Murphy and Barbie in Oppenheimer

Julian De Rosa | AFP | Getty Images; Stuart C. Wilson | Getty Images

“Barbenheimer” opened the weekend, earning an estimated $235.5 million in ticket sales and reinvigorating the domestic box office.

“Barbie” grossed nearly $155 million during its first three days in theaters, the biggest opening of 2023. Its counterpart, “Oppenheimer”, grossed an estimated $80.5 million during its debut. The final figures for the debut of the pair will be announced on Monday.

Sean Robbins, chief analyst for BoxOffice.com, said, “I don’t think anyone could have reasonably predicted a confluence between ‘Oppenheimer’ and ‘Barbie’ like this.” “If you’re going to a theater now, the communal experience is reminiscent of the major Marvel and Star Wars movies, but without being remotely involved in those franchises.”

In total, over 18.5 million tickets were purchased Warner Bros.“Barbie” and of universal “Oppenheimer,” 12.8 million for “Barbie,” and 5.8 million for “Oppenheimer,” according to Entelligence data.

“It was truly a 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 movies,” said Michael O’Leary, president and CEO of the National Association of Theater Owners.

Both films hold over 90% “fresh” ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and encourage moviegoers to dress head-to-toe in pink or wear suits and hats during their screenings.

O’Leary said, “People recognized that something special was happening and they wanted to be a part of it.” “Our partners in the creative community and studios gave audiences two distinctively different, smart and original stories that were meant for the big screen and movie lovers responded by gathering friends and family and visiting their local movie houses across the country.”

With additional ticket sales from Paramount’s latest “Mission Impossible” film, Sony’s “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” and Angel Studios’ “The Sound of Freedom,” the weekend box office is expected to reach $302 million, the highest of any weekend in 2023, according to comScore data.

“The phenomenal performance of these two films, and the boost they generated for the overall movie market, cemented the movie theater as a cultural hub and center of social interaction,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore.

The “Barbenheimer” weekend is currently set to be the fourth longest weekend ever, just below the three-day span. Disney’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” opened in theaters in December 2015 and helped boost its total weekend gross to $313 million. The second biggest is $314 million in April 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War” opening weekend.

Some box office analysts speculate that Monday’s official weekend numbers may be significantly higher than Sunday’s estimates, and could push “Barbenheimer” the weekend higher up the charts. However, they won’t come close to the highest-grossing weekend ever, which happened in April 2019 when “Avengers: Endgame” hit theaters, grossing $357 million on its own, for a total weekend gross of $402 million.

The success of “Barbenheimer” comes at a time when the domestic box office has faced some headwinds. Several adult-focused blockbuster films have performed poorly, leading many in the industry to question whether consumer attitudes have turned away from Hollywood.

Warner Bros. “The Flash” flopped, Pixar’s “Elemental” failed to entice family audiences and even Harrison Ford’s return as Indiana Jones wasn’t enough to pack theaters.

However, it seems that the combination of bombshell and golden bombshell has inspired many moviegoers to leave their sofas for the cinema.

“This is a historic result that reflects audience enthusiasm for a variety of fresh content,” said Robbins. “These films masterfully exploited cultural ideologies. They rocked the summer box office, and they proved that studios can be a little more aggressive with counter-programming strategies in the future.”

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal is the distributor of “Oppenheimer” and is the owner of Rotten Tomatoes.