Per Variety, the Greta Gerwig-directed Barbie set records by bringing in $155 million at the U.S. box office, which makes it the biggest opening weekend ever for a movie directed by a woman. The current worldwide take for the Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling-starring comedy sits at an astonishing $337 million. Produced on a budget of $145 million, it’s already the most successful Warner Bros. Pictures release of the year, beating out Creed III and the superhero flop The Flash.
Christopher Nolan’s historical biopic Oppenheimer—which opened on the same day—isn’t far behind with a debut that is surpassing expectations. The three-hour-long film brought in $80.5 million in its opening weekend, beating out conservative estimates of $50 million. With the addition of the international box office, it’s taken in a total of $174 million worldwide so far. Starring Cillian Murphy as the man who led the development of the first nuclear weapons, Oppenheimer had a budget of $100 million and is Nolan’s first project for Universal Pictures following his falling out with Warner over the company’s decision to put its projects on streaming simultaneously.
“Studios gave audiences two uniquely different, smart and original stories that were meant for the big screen,” said National Association of Theatre Owners President and CEO Michael O’Leary. “People recognized that something special was happening, and they wanted to be a part of it.”
Buoyed by strong reviews for both and the inescapable prevalence of the “Barbenheimer” double-feature hype on social media, it’s the strongest weekend at U.S. theaters since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020. As noted by Imax CEO Rich Gelfond, Oppenheimer has benefitted from its release in premium formats, including IMAX 70mm showings at select locations around the world.
Writer and director Nolan said that he thought it was “terrific” to see Barbie, which couldn’t be more different than Oppenheimer, debut in theaters the same time as his new movie. “Summer, in a healthy marketplace, is always crowded, and we’ve been doing this a long time,” Nolan said. “I think for those of us who care about movies, we’ve been really waiting to have a crowded marketplace again, and now it’s here and that’s terrific.”