‘Barbie’ has record-setting $155M opening; ‘Oppenheimer’ has impressive start

“Barbenheimer” lived up to its pre-opening hype, with “Barbie” pulling in the biggest box office numbers of 2023. Meanwhile, the historical drama “Oppenheimer” had an impressive start.

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“Barbie,” directed by Greta Gerwig, opened to an estimated $155 million at North American box offices for the July 21-23 weekend, Variety reported. That is a record number for a solo female-directed film, topping the $103.3 domestic opening by “Wonder Woman,” the 2017 film directed by Patty Jenkins, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The film is also the largest box office draw for 2023, topping the $146.4 million set earlier this year by “Super Mario Bros.,” Deadline reported.

“We have a pink unicorn here,” Jeff Goldstein, the president of domestic distribution at Warner Bros., told Variety about “Barbie.” “We thought it would be $75 million for the opening weekend. Nobody saw $155 million coming. This doll has long legs.”

“Oppenheimer,” Christopher Nolan’s R-rated film, brought in $80.5 million in North America for its opening weekend, the entertainment news website reported.

The box office numbers for both movies were also strong internationally. “Barbie,” the fantasy film about the world’s most famous fashion doll, took in $182 million abroad. “Oppenheimer,” meanwhile, pulled in an additional $93.7 million abroad, according to Deadline.

According to Variety, hundreds of thousands of ticket buyers decided to attend same-day viewings of both movies, essentially turning what was a box office battle into a remarkable double feature day for moviegoers.

“This is an unequivocally great weekend for moviegoing,” David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research, told Variety. “‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer’ are complementing each other at the box office, not taking audience from each other.”

The cultural craze known as “Barbenheimer” created the fourth-biggest overall weekend in history, the entertainment news website reported.

It is also the largest opening since Dec. 17, 2021, when “Spider-Man: No Way Home” collected $281.8 million, according to Deadline. It is also the largest showing since before the pandemic, when “Avengers: End Game” led with $375 million on the weekend of April 26, 2019.

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