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‘Barbie’ makes Hollywood history: Greta Gerwig’s film takes in over $300 million in box office opening

The Margot Robbie flick has become the biggest box-office debut for a movie directed by a woman, while ‘Oppenheimer’ by Christopher Nolan made nearly $94 million

Barbie Margot Robbie
Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie in a still from 'Barbie.'WARNER BROS.
María Porcel

Greta Gerwig’s Barbie was the clear winner of the weekend box office race against Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, the biopic about the creator of the atomic bomb. Gerwig’s film starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling managed to rake in $337 million in its box office opening on the weekend, with $155 million just in ticket sales in the United States. Oppenheimer, which stars Cillian Murphy, did not fare badly either: it made $93.7 million worldwide, and another $80.5 million in the U.S., for a total of $174 million at the global box office.

When all is settled, it will likely turn out to be the fourth-biggest box office weekend of all time, with over $300 million industrywide. It’s quite an achievement, and a boon for ailing movie theaters, where neither the final Indiana Jones movie nor the aerial stunts of Tom Cruise in the latest installment Mission: Impossible have managed to revive an industry that is still recovering from the pandemic.

But Barbenheimer — the social media-fueled fusion of Barbie and Oppenheimer — brought moviegoers back to the theaters in record numbers this weekend, vastly outperforming projections and giving a glimmer of hope to the lagging exhibition business, amid the sobering backdrop of strikes.

Director Christopher Nolan and actor Cillian Murphy at the 'Oppenheimer' premiere in London on July 12, 2023.
Director Christopher Nolan and actor Cillian Murphy at the 'Oppenheimer' premiere in London on July 12, 2023.MAJA SMIEJKOWSKA (REUTERS)

The two films have both broken records. After an intense marketing campaign, Barbie has become the biggest box-office debut for a movie directed by a woman. It is also the movie with the best box office opening of 2023, surpassing Super Mario Bros and the latest films in the Spider-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy franchises. It is the best box office opening for its two leads, Robbie — who is also a producer — and Gosling, and the best for Warner that is not a DC Comics movie or a sequel. Meanwhile, Oppenheimer has become Nolan’s third-biggest opening to date, behind The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. It is the third best opening for an autobiographical film, after American Sniper in 2014 and The Passion of the Christ, in 2004.

The figures mean that both films have far exceeded their production costs: Barbie had a budget of $145 million; and has already brought in double that amount. While Oppenheimer cost $100 million to make.

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