Oppenheimer received major box office boost because Barbie tickets sold out

‘Oppenheimer’ benefitted from ‘Barbie’s’ ‘leftovers’, data research company says

Tom Murray
Monday 24 July 2023 20:57 BST
Ben Shapiro sets fire to Barbie and Ken dolls in movie review

Any fears that the simultaneous release of Barbie and Oppenheimer would hurt the films’ returns have now surely been put to bed as both movies smash box office records.

In the build-up to the 21 July release date, it was reported that Oppenheimer director Christopher Nolan was upset that Warner Bros had scheduled Greta Gerwig’s Barbie for the same day.

Follow live updates as ‘Barbenheimer’ blows past box office expectations

However, according to film-data research company The Quorum, Nolan actually received a significant box office boost thanks to the commercial success of Gerwig’s picture.

Barbie earnt a jaw-dropping $155m (£120m) in the US on its opening weekend with many fans unable to get tickets to see the film in theatres because they had sold out.

The Quorum reports that six per cent of people who saw Oppenheimer in the US on opening weekend did so because tickets to Barbie were sold out.

The company collated the data by surveying Oppenheimer viewers on Sunday (23 July) asking them why they saw the biopic about the “father of the atomic bomb”.

Margot Robbie in ‘Barbie’ (left) and Cillian Murphy in ‘Oppenheimer’

If this data is extrapolated, it can be thought that Barbie is responsible for approximately $4.98m (£3.88m) of Oppenheimer’s weekend domestic gross of $83m (£64.75m).

The films made the weekend of 21-23 July the fourth-biggest of all time in the US box office.

Barbie, which stars Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as the Mattel dolls, broke the opening weekend record for a female director. Patty Jenkins’ 2017 movie Wonder Woman had the previous record with a $103.3m (£80.3m) domestic opening.

The two films’ success apparently delivered a blow to Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning with one industry source telling The Hollywood Reporter that Oppenheimer drew “older males away”.

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“Not only that, Sound of Freedom is an unexpected force to be reckoned with and is presenting competition from an unlikely source,” they added.

Sound of Freedom is a controversial action movie starring Jim Caviezel as Tim Ballard, a former government agent who embarks on a mission to rescue children from sex traffickers in Colombia.

In a recent interview with The Independent, Nolan described Oppenheimer as “the biggest film I’ve made”. Its lead star Cillian Murphy admitted to struggling to watch the film due to seeing his face projected on the screen, but acknowleged that the film is “designed” to be “watched with an audience”.

Read The Independent’s five-star review of Barbie here and Oppenheimer (four stars) here.

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