Oppenheimer reportedly got a boost in the box office during its opening weekend thanks to last-minute Barbie-viewing hopefuls facing sold-out theaters.
In the double feature of the year, the neon-coated comedy and the explosive historical epic debuted in theaters this weekend, dominating the box office. A new study from film-data research company The Quorum found that the “Barbenheimer” extravaganza didn’t just contribute to the high double feature sales, though.
Six percent of the people who saw Oppenheimer in the U.S. this past weekend had originally hoped to see Barbie, only to find the screenings were sold out, according to The Quorum’s findings. With that, the firm estimates that $4.98 million of Oppenheimer’s $82.4 million in domestic box office sales came from Barbie leftovers.
The researchers conducted a survey of Oppenheimer viewers on Sunday, asking moviegoers why they saw the Christopher Nolan film. The company’s founder David Herrin told IndieWire that “bought ticket because Barbie was sold out” was one of the options for respondents.
The latest box office estimates for each film far exceeded the high expectations set for them, with Barbie garnering a record-shattering total of $162 million and Oppenheimer taking in $82.4 million, according to Variety.
The Margot Robbie-starring film that centers around Mattel’s iconic doll made $22.3 million in Thursday preview screenings alone, while Oppenheimer, which stars Cillian Murphy as Manhattan Project physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, took in $10.5 million, per Variety.
In the weeks leading up to the July 21 release date for each film, fans coined the term “Barbenheimer” to label the viral trend of seeing both the Greta Gerwig–directed Barbie and Nolan’s Oppenheimer on the same day or the same weekend.
Even the stars of the respective movies said they would be sure to check out their fellow July blockbuster. Cillian Murphy, who stars as Oppenheimer’s title character, told IGN he personally “can’t wait” to see Barbie.
“I mean, I’ll be going to see Barbie 100% — I can’t wait to see it,” Murphy said earlier this month. “I think it’s just great for the industry and for audiences that we have two amazing films by amazing filmmakers coming out on the same day.”
He added, “Yeah, you can spend the whole day in the cinema — what’s better than that?”
Murphy’s response to the playful opening weekend competition came after the Barbie team shared photos of Robbie and Gerwig proudly posing with their movie tickets to Oppenheimer and fellow summer blockbusters Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny and Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One.
“Mission: Accepted!” read the accompanying tweet.
Mission: Accepted! pic.twitter.com/DJ2gm5e4XU
— Barbie Movie (@barbiethemovie) June 30, 2023
“What a fabulous weekend for moviegoers at AMC’s movie theatres in the U.S. and abroad,” AMC Chairman and CEO Adam Aron said in a statement on Monday. “AMC sends an enormous thank you and congratulations to Greta Gerwig, Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, and the entire team at Warner Bros., and to Christopher Nolan and the team at Universal Pictures. They’ve demonstrated that well-made, well-marketed films that captivate audiences can open on the same weekend and both enjoy great success.”[via]