December 8, 2023

Cillian Murphy to Star in Oppenheimer, Margot Robbie as Barbie

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

This weekend’s box office is all about the atomic bomb and blondes.

Usually, when two blockbusters from two different studios are released at the same time, it’s a box office rivalry.this is not the case Warner Bros. ‘ “Barbie” and generic “Oppenheimer.”

Dubbed “Pappenheimer,” the dual release of these potential blockbusters was more complementary and attracted many fans Plan a Double Featured Trip Go to the cinema

“Ever since we knew these two movies were going to be released on the same weekend, it was an instant pop culture phenomenon,” said Erik Davis, managing director of Fandango. “It’s the most anticipated weekend of the year.”

These two films are very different, with ‘Barbie’ centering on the iconic character Mattel A doll navigating a life outside of Barbieland, “Oppenheimer” chronicles how the father of the atomic bomb built the first nuclear weapon.

Audiences, however, were captivated by the two games. The excitement is much needed at the domestic box office after a string of recent big-budget films have failed to live up to expectations.

Heading into the weekend, “Barbie” is expected to take in at least $90 million domestically, with some box office analysts predicting it could make as much as $140 million. Meanwhile, “Oppenheimer” seemed destined to make $40 million to $60 million at the box office.

Together, the two films grossed $200 million during their debuts. With ticket sales ramping up for “Mission: Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part 1,” “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” and “The Voice of Liberty,” it could be the biggest weekend of the year so far.

The major movie chains said box office performances for both films were strong this weekend and have added more screenings to meet demand.

Some 40,000 members of the AMC theater loyalty program purchased tickets to see “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” that day, and the National Association of Theater Owners expects more than 200,000 moviegoers to see both films that day.

“Going into the weekend, anticipation was really high for both ‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer,'” said Jeffrey Kaufman, chief content officer at Marco Theatre. “Media coverage and public acceptance of the #Barbenheimer hashtag demonstrates awareness and excitement around both releases.”

Much of the appeal comes from the film’s famous filmmakers.

Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird,” “Little Women”) has only made a handful of films as a director, but she’s already cemented herself among Hollywood’s biggest names. Her films are female-centric, with witty dialogue and a strong emotional core. Gerwig is one of only seven women nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards.

Audiences got their first taste of Gerwig’s rendition of the iconic Barbie in December, when a minute-long trailer parodied Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.” This won’t be your typical Barbie movie.

A future trailer shows off the Pink Bubble Gum Barbie Land that kids and young at heart have known for over 60 years, and reveals the movie’s plot. After an existential crisis, Barbie (Margot Robbie) and Ken (Ryan Gosling) head to the real world to find answers.

Rise of #Barbiecore: Mattel cashes in on nostalgia ahead of movie release

Then there’s Christopher Nolan, who built a cult following through films like Memento, The Prestige, The Dark Knight, Interstellar and Dunkirk.

Nolan’s films are known for their complex storytelling, bombastic sound and images designed for the big screen.

“Oppenheimer” is a three-hour work that centers on physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) as he relentlessly worked to develop the first atomic bomb during World War II.

Shawn Robbins, principal analyst at, said: “‘Barbie’ was the weekend No. 1 frontrunner with its massive brand appeal appealing to an underserved female audience, but ‘Oppenheimer’ should have a long lead like Christopher Nolan films usually do.”

“Oppenheimer” will benefit from ticket sales in the premium format as audiences choose to watch the movie on the biggest screen possible. Nolan’s film is expected to account for about 70% of all premium screenings this weekend, including screens such as IMAX, Dolby Cinema and ScreenX. Those tickets average around $17 each, according to EntTelligence.

General admission tickets (including premium and standard digital screenings) are expected to average around $14 each.

The average ticket price for “Barbie” was slightly lower, about $12, because the film was shown in fewer premium theaters on weekends.

The two films hit theaters after a string of adult blockbusters underperformed at the box office.

“Unfortunately, the last three blockbusters — ‘The Flash,’ ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ and ‘Mission: Impossible –‘ all underperformed as predicted,” Kaufman said. Reports of the guild strike last news cycle, and the absence of actors from promotional events, may dampen things.”

“Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” probably won’t be hit by a lack of publicity. Marketing campaigns for both films were in full swing on the eve of the strike, and both actors were able to participate (at least in part) in the movie premieres.

Viral videos of the “Barbie” cast in pink promoting the movie and discussing their “Kenergy” have been circulating on social media for weeks, alongside bubblegum-colored merchandise pairings and Airbnb The ideal home.

Marketing for “Oppenheimer,” by contrast, was more low-key, with actor and director Nolan touting the way he recreated a nuclear explosion without the use of CGI, and exploring the significance of Oppenheimer’s life.

“The theater is trying to strike a very delicate balance when it comes to producing two high-profile films, ‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer,'” said Steve Buck of film data firm EntTelligence. “The winner is simple — moviegoers.”

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC.