In a lackluster summer movie season, two remarkable blockbusters, Greta Gerwig’s vibrant “Barbie” and Christopher Nolan’s profound “Oppenheimer,” have captivated audiences and are setting new records at the box office.
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“Barbie” Dominates the North American Box Office
Warner Bros. Discovery’s “Barbie” takes the lead as the number one movie in North America. The film made a stunning $22.2 million in preview ticket sales on Thursday, the highest of the year. Following that impressive start, “Barbie” continued its triumphant run on Friday, raking in an additional $48.2 million from 4,243 theaters. This soaring total of $70.5 million makes it the biggest opening day of 2023, easily surpassing “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” which earned $51.8 million in June.
The momentum doesn’t seem to be slowing down as “Barbie” eyes the title of the biggest three-day debut of 2023. Its primary competitor in this endeavor is “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” which claimed a whopping $146.3 million in three days back in April (including Tuesday previews and the Easter holiday, totaling $224 million during that period). As of now, the animated feature holds the crown for the highest-grossing release of the year, with $573 million in domestic earnings and an impressive $1.34 billion worldwide.
Additionally, “Barbie” is in the running to achieve the highest opening weekend ever for a film directed by a woman. The current record holder is “Captain Marvel,” co-directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, which earned $153 million in its opening weekend in 2019. “Barbie” is poised to easily surpass the previous solo female-directed record held by Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman” at $103 million.
The film’s success is no fluke. “Barbie” was an ambitious project for Mattel, costing $145 million to produce, with additional spending on an extensive marketing campaign that painted bus stop benches pink and even included a Dreamhouse in Malibu. Critics have praised the film with a remarkable 90% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences are equally thrilled, evident by the enthusiastic “A” Cinema Score grade from the first round of moviegoers. With such positive reception, this weekend is proving to be a significant breakthrough, and “Barbie” is set to make a lasting impression throughout the summer.
The Cast and Plot of “Barbie”
Starring Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken, this delightful comedy follows the iconic doll as she embarks on a journey from the fantastical Barbieland to the real world, which, unsurprisingly, has its own set of problems! The film boasts an impressive ensemble cast, including Issa Rae, America Ferrera, Kate McKinnon, Michael Cera, Simu Liu, Helen Mirren, and Will Ferrell, among many others.
“Oppenheimer” Makes a Strong Impression
On the other side of the box office success, Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” is also leaving its mark. Opening in 3,610 locations, this sweeping biopic about J. Robert Oppenheimer, played by Cillian Murphy, earned a commendable $33 million on its opening day, including $10.5 million from Thursday previews.
“Oppenheimer” is positioning itself to become one of the highest-grossing opening weekends for an R-rated film. Topping that list are various franchise films like “Deadpool,” its sequel, “It,” its sequel, and the “Batman” spinoff “Joker” (which has already confirmed its sequel). The film is currently projected to earn $77 million through Sunday, placing it second only to “The Passion of the Christ” ($83 million) among the highest openings for a non-IP R-rated film—certainly an achievement considering the built-in fanbase difference.
The film’s success can also be attributed to its strategic showtimes in Imax auditoriums and other premium formats, which naturally come with higher ticket prices. Christopher Nolan has a long-standing relationship with Imax, often shooting significant portions of his films using the company’s heavy-duty cameras. Worth noting is that “Barbie” has been able to achieve its impressive numbers without the advantage of playing in Imax auditoriums. “Oppenheimer” is shaping up to become Nolan’s third-biggest opening, trailing behind only “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Furthermore, Nolan’s films have a history of sustained success in theaters. For instance, “Interstellar” and “Dunkirk” significantly increased their earnings after their initial opening weekends. Even “Tenet” managed to earn $58.5 million after its wide release debut of $9 million—remarkable considering it was before a widely distributed COVID vaccine was available. With exceptional reviews from critics (96% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes), “Oppenheimer” is finding a devoted audience, reflected in the outstanding “A” grade Cinema Score. With positive buzz and early award season consideration, “Oppenheimer” is sure to continue drawing audiences for some time.
The Cast and Plot of “Oppenheimer”
The film delves into the life of physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, portrayed by Cillian Murphy, who was chosen by the U.S. military to lead the construction of the first atomic bomb. The movie also features notable actors like Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Casey Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Benny Safdie, Kenneth Branagh, and Rami Malek, among others.
In conclusion, both “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” have proven to be box office hits in their own right. While “Barbie” impresses with its vibrant charm and delightful storyline, “Oppenheimer” captivates with its profound and thought-provoking narrative. These two films demonstrate the diversity and creativity that the film industry has to offer, leaving audiences eager for more cinematic adventures.