Film business life!
Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” and Christopher Nolan’s Nuclear War “Oppenheimer” blew previous pre-release projections into the stratosphere at the weekend box office to collect a staggering total of $235.5 million in the US and Canada, a staggering total that sent a clear message to Hollywood: If you want to control culture, you must give moviegoers something new — not just a thread.
“Original storytelling has turned out the right way in a really cool way,” said Richard L. Gelfond, CEO of IMAX, which accounts for 26 percent of the “Oppenheimer” blockbuster in North America. “These movies weren’t sequels that looked like the last installment in a long-running franchise. You might say people noticed.”
The huge turnout indicated that Hollywood had finally recovered from the pandemic. Finally, the North American multiplexes had their biggest opening weekend since the arrival of “Avengers: Endgame” in April 2019. “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” contributed to the domestic box office to about $302 million in total ticket sales for the weekend, with films like “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” and “Sound of Freedom” contributing to the balance.
“Barbie,” a feminist statement wrapped in hot pink gum, has sold an estimated $155 million in tickets in domestic theaters, according to Comscore, which compiles box office data. The PG-13 comedy has taken in an additional $182 million overseas. The movie “Barbie” was released by Warner Bros. And it cost $145 million to make, excluding marketing expenses, which were substantial.
Box office analysts, who use complex formulas to predict ticket sales, had expected “Barbie” to collect about $110 million in the United States and Canada. Concerned that the film might fall short of expectations, as several large releases have recently, including Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1, Warner Bros. projected $75 million.
It ended up as the biggest opening of Gerwig’s career, by shooting, cementing her status as one of Hollywood’s youngest filmmakers — directors who mainstream ticket buyers consider to offer a solo work. (Jordan Peele is another bunch, along with more established ones like Nolan and JJ Abrams.) Gerwig, who wrote the script for the comedy “Barbie” with partner Noah Baumbach, previously directed “Little Women” (2019) and “Lady Bird” (2017). She has been nominated for three Academy Awards.
It was also the biggest opening ever for a female director, surpassing Captain Marvel, which was co-directed by Anna Bowden and grossed $153.4 million in initial ticket sales in 2019.
David Gross, a film consultant who publishes A.I the news on box office numbers. “No comedy of any kind opened higher than $85.9 million over a three-day weekend.”
Barbie arrived as a full-blown cultural event, with thousands of moviegoers covering themselves in pink for screenings, memes of the dolls flooding social media and marketers (sometimes embarrassingly) splurging on the moment. The audience was 65 percent female. “For a movie this pink, you’d expect the audience to be closer to 90 percent female—we’ve got a lot of guys,” said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros.’s president of domestic distribution. “It exploded everywhere: big markets, small markets, coast to coast.”
Some theaters seem to be caught off guard, including in the New York area, where they have run out of menu items at locations and, in at least one case, ice.
Oppenheimer helped fuel Barbie and vice versa, with their simultaneous release dubbing Barpenheimer and mesmerizing movie fans with their stark contrast. Nolan’s film, which cost Universal Pictures at least $100 million to produce, not including a megawatt marketing campaign, is a three-hour drama about Robert Oppenheimer, the man known as the “Father of the Atomic Bomb.” AMC Entertainment, the world’s largest theater chain, said more than 60,000 people had purchased tickets to see “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” as a double feature.
Universal said the R-rated “Oppenheimer” has grossed an estimated $80.5 million in the United States and Canada — about 60 percent more than analysts had projected prior to its release — and an additional $94 million overseas. The local audience was 62 percent male. Some IMAX locations showing “Oppenheimer” for the coming weeks were sold out, particularly venues for screenings of the 70mm film.
“Barbie and Oppenheimer” received rave reviews from critics. Ticket buyers have given each film an A in CinemaScore polls.
Hollywood urgently needed a weekend that exceeded – or even met – 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. So far, however, the box office has mostly been notable for the disappointing turnout of the franchise’s sequel.
Flickers of hope, including “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” were erased by the disappointing results, especially in the US, of expensive franchise films like “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” “Shazam! Wrath of the Gods,” “Blink,” and “Quick X.”
What is success? Characters who haven’t appeared onscreen in recent memory (“The Super Mario Bros. Movie”), vibrant new animation styles (“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”), new chapters in the not-so-well-worn series (“Creed III”) and films that cater to audiences ignored by Hollywood (“Sound of Freedom,” which the right touted).
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.
The stronger-than-expected turnout for “Barbie” partly reflected a campaign by Warner Bros. CEO David Zaslav. Discovery, to use the company’s cross-promotional power in a new way. In the past, the conglomerate has remained closed in on itself, even as Disney and NBC Universal have leveraged their empires to promote new films.
Warner Bros. promoted Discovery for “Barbie” on its television networks, for example, with HGTV offering the Dreamhouse competition series and the Food Network incorporating Barbie into its “Summer Baking Tournament”. More than 15 of the company’s networks featured pink banners and other on-air promotions.
The question now is whether Hollywood can keep up its momentum. Studio executives have long pointed out that going to the movies begets going to the movies — and the habit of watching movies in movie theaters is crucial. coming, however,