‘Barbie’ And ‘Oppenheimer’ Combine For $536 Million Box Office Weekend

Theaters enjoyed a windfall this weekend, as smart marketing and intense cross-pollinating viral buzz helped Barbie and Oppenheimer soar past all expectations and combine for $536.8 million in worldwide box office.

The Mattel toy-inspired Barbie claimed $356 million of the gross, with Oppenheimer taking the other $180 million, both buoyed by great critical reception and glowing audience word of mouth, as well as many theaters screening the films as a double feature. You can read my review of Oppenheimer here.

Both films also did tremendous Monday domestic business. Barbie set an all-time Monday studio record in North America at $26 million, and Oppenheimer enjoyed strong $12+ million stateside, raising the two-film global gross to $590-600+ million (final international Monday sales aren’t all available yet).

With Tuesday’s global ticket sales, then, Barbie should top $425+ million by close of business today, and Oppenheimer should sit somewhere around $215+ million.

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Unless some dramatic and unexpected calamity befalls either film, they will enter next week with at least $705+ million in their combined coffers. This puts $1 billion on the table for Barbenheimer’s second weekend.

Theaters and studios needed more good news in a year of significant ups and downs for major releases. Many tentpole franchises with too-hefty price tags stumbled or fell flat on their faces so far in 2023, including Warner’s own big-budget DC superhero movies Black Adam and The Flash.

Universal has suffered less than other major studios so far, with a lot of variety in their slate and most of it succeeding. The biggest Universal disappointment in 2023 so far might be Fast X. That might sound like a crazy thing to say in light of that film’s $718 million in worldwide sales. However, the fact is Fast X represents the fourth box office decline in a row for the action-driven franchise, grossing less than half the franchise high-water mark of $1.5 billion achieved by 2015’s Furious 7.

MORE FROM FORBESReview: ‘Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One’ Eyes Record Opening Weekend

Still, Oppenheimer is one of several wins for the studio in an often uncompromising summer theatrical marketplace. Barbie, though, was a much-needed victory for WBD leadership struggling in the face of bloated budgets, box office stinkers, and increased criticism of executives amid questionable cost-cutting decisions and the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.

Meanwhile, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is definitely showing signs of slowing momentum in the face of over-achieving competition that also stripped Dead Reckoning of its lucrative IMAX screens.

There already aren’t enough premium theaters to meet audience demand for individual films, let alone the crowded marketplace where securing ideal seats in enormous premium venues is a difficult battle that leads many viewers to simply sit out the opening weekends until they can get the seats the want. (This is an issue I’ve written about before, and you can read more here.)

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The latest Mission: Impossible chapter sits atop $370 million, but unless it experiences better weekly holds going forward, it might not even reach $500 million worldwide by the end of its run. My expectation is that it will get right up to that number on either side of the line, but we’ll have to wait and see what next weekend brings before we can know for sure whether Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning can catch its second wind for a longer run (which is typical for the franchise).

We’re weeks away from any serious challengers in the marketplace, so expect to see Barbie hold well and wind up a contender for the year’s biggest picture. Meanwhile, I still think I need to see good weekly numbers and a strong second weekend showing before I’m convinced Oppenheimer’s amazing opening weekend represents a sustainable reaction among the larger population that’s enough to propel bigger blockbuster performance. The three-hour runtime, generally more expository nature of the storytelling, and other factors just make me think there’s probably a ceiling on Oppenheimer’s appeal among a larger cross section of the viewing public.

I’ll be back with more updates and analysis of these films and more, dear readers, so be sure to check back here again soon.

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