Barbie vs. Oppenheimer: The real winner may be the box office hit

It’s a match for the ages, up there with Ali vs. Frazier, Hatfields vs. McCoys and Athena vs. Sparta.

Well, let’s not get carried away.

But it’s fair to say that with Barbie vs. Oppenheimer, Hollywood hasn’t captured the popular imagination in this way for quite some time. On Thursday night, Hollywood’s two fiercely opposed blockbusters hit theaters after weeks of Internet scams and questionable marketing ties. (We’re looking at you, a Barbie-inspired Burger King sandwich topped with what looks like chewed bubble gum.) Together, the films could generate the largest audiences at multiplexes in North America in four years, numbers not seen since before the pandemic, Box said. office.

“Barbie and Oppenheimer are basically the perfect BFFs at the box office this weekend,” said Dave Karger, host of Turner Classic Movies. “Yes, they’re technically competitive, but they’re going after vastly different audiences, and Barpenheimer’s hype only seems to help both films.”

Greta Gerwig’s candy-covered Barbie, which cost $145 million to produce, excluding marketing costs, will likely earn $100 million in the United States and Canada through Sunday, according to analysts who track audience interest and use complex formulas. To predict box office performance. Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer,” which cost at least $100 million before marketing, is looking for about $50 million in domestic ticket sales over the same period.

Warner Bros., citing presales of about $30 million, said it expects approximately $75 million in weekend ticket sales for “Barbie”. (The studios are trying audaciously to lower expectations.) The studio booked the PG-13 comedy on about 4,200 screens in North America.

Universal Pictures, the studio that produced “Oppenheimer,” a historical drama about the making of the atomic bomb, declined to comment. Nolan’s film will be shown on approximately 3,600 domestic screens.

Barbie has a running time of just under two hours. Oppenheimer’s film runs three times, limiting the number of shows theaters can show in a weekend. However, Oppenheimer has the advantage of being played on most large-format screens in North America, which comes with a $12 ticket surcharge in New York. IMAX is dedicated the entire footprint to Nolan costars for the next three weeks (much to the chagrin of Tom Cruise, who was hoping his Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1 movie would still run on some of those screens after opening last week).

AMC Entertainment, the world’s largest movie chain, said on Monday that more than 40,000 people had purchased tickets to see “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” as a double feature, up from 20,000 last week.

Hollywood desperately needed a weekend that would exceed — or even meet — expectations. This was the year movie-going was supposed to finally recover from the pandemic, which closed many theaters for months on end and accelerated the growth of in-home streaming services. Finally, the cinemas will reclaim a site of urgent cultural interest.

But ticket sales in the United States and Canada for the year so far (about $5 billion) are down about 20 percent from the same period in 2019, according to Comscore, which compiles box office data. Glimpses of hope, including strong sales for the innovative “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” and the ultra-violent “John Wick: Chapter 4,” have been erased by the disappointing results of expensive franchise films like “Indiana Jones and the Tweak.” Destiny,” “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” “Shazam! Wrath of the Gods,” and “Fast X.”

This past weekend’s latest “Mission: Impossible” hit solid results, but below what Hollywood was expecting.

Ticket buyers seem tired of the new installments in decades-old franchises. What is success? For the most part, characters who haven’t appeared on screen in recent memory (“The Super Mario Bros. Movie”), new chapters in the series that aren’t well-worn (“Creed III”) and films that cater to audiences that Hollywood has ignored (“Voice of Freedom”) promoted by the right).

Despite dominating the world, Barbie has never had her own big budget movie before. “Oppenheimer” is based on the 2005 biography “American Prometheus” by Kay Bird and Martin J. Chiron. “Both studios have gone all-in on original films, directed by high-profile auteurs with an interest in driving development,” said Paul Dergarabedian, comScore senior analyst. “These aren’t the tried-and-true safe bets that are the hallmark of the summer movie season.”

“Barbie” has major movie stars – Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling – while “Oppenheimer” stars the lesser-known Cillian Murphy. Barbie is aimed at women, while Oppenheimer has the advantage with men. One represents what many Hollywood cinephiles hate: movies based on games. The other was written and directed by one of Hollywood’s most serious cinephiles.

Comedy vs Drama. The brightest side of human imagination versus the darker side. Create worlds, destroy worlds.

The contrasts are irresistible.

Although rare, such box office outings are not without precedent. Just ask Nolan. In July 2008, his Batman villain “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.) came face-to-face with Universal’s “Mamma Mia!” sunny silly. It was a No. 1 hit for the weekend, but both films became hits.