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‘Barbie’ dominates the box office, raking in a $155 million opening weekend


By Ramishah Maruf, CNN

New York (CNN) — Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” raked in a stunning $155 million domestically over the weekend, giving the film the largest opening weekend of 2023 and the biggest-ever debut for a female director.

The combined release of “Barbie” and Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer,” dubbed “Barbenheimer,” has become a pop culture sensation – and one that might revive a struggling movie industry.

Barbenheimer was the fourth highest-grossing industry weekend of all time in North America, totaling $302 million Sunday. Analysts believe it will grow even more when final numbers are reported Monday.

Coming in behind “Barbie,” “Oppenheimer” opened at $80.5 million domestically over the weekend, according to Comscore. Both movies essentially doubled predictions from weeks ago, Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, said.

It’s unprecedented to not only have two films do so well, but also to help each other with the Barbenheimer trend, Dergarabedian said.

“I can’t really think of any parallels ever,” Dergarabedian said. “Where both movies became bigger because of each other.”

It’s also a tale of two trajectories, Dergarabedian said, between a commercial blockbuster and a three-hour historical drama.

“Both can be considered absolute homerun hits, and both are gonna perform in the coming weeks in a different way,” Dergarabedian said.

The two movies can enjoy a summer with little competition, particularly “Barbie” since there haven’t been female-driven blockbusters since “The Little Mermaid.”

“Barbie” took in $70.5 million in North American theaters Friday, including the Thursday pre-shows.

The movie has made the biggest domestic start for a female-directed movie. Its closest comparison is “Wonder Woman” in 2017, directed by Patty Jenkins, which raked in about $38 million domestically on opening day, according to Box Office Mojo. “Captain Marvel,” co-directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, brought in about $62 million.

“Barbie” was distributed by Warner Bros., owned by CNN’s parent company Warner Bros. Discovery.

Preview showings of “Barbie” brought in $22.3 million, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The Mattel doll film beat “Oppenheimer,” which earned $33 million on Friday – also an impressive feat.

It’s a win for director Christopher Nolan, surpassing many of his previous hits: “Inception” brought in around $22 million on opening day and “Dunkirk” $20 million, though it didn’t reach opening day numbers for “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises.”

This kind of foot traffic can be expected for big Marvel or Star Wars movies, Boxoffice Pro chief analyst Shawn Robbins said. It’s a big signal to studios that they don’t have to play it safe all the time, he said.

“When you have two highly anticipated movies, they’re counterprogramming in a lot of ways and not cannibalizing each other,” Robbins said. “They can succeed at the same time.”

Before “Barbie,” “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” had the biggest opening of 2023 at $146.3 million domestic.

A social media driven campaign to see both movies led to a double-feature Barbenheimer phenomenon. That could bring a much needed rebound to the movie industry. Summer releases from earlier in the season, such as ‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’ drew underwhelming box office numbers on opening weekend, drawing $60 million in the United States and $70 million internationally.

“Everything about this movie and the toy is fun,” Sheri Lambert, a marketing professor at Temple University told CNN. “I think people are looking to escape.”

Mattel is also not new to nostalgia marketing, making people “really excited” about movies that take them back to the past, Lambert added.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Business/Consumer

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