Distributor Warner Bros has announced that the Barbie film has become the biggest film of the year in the US and Canada. During its opening weekend, the movie earned an estimated $155 million (£120 million).
At the same time, the new release Oppenheimer, also launched on Friday, made $93.7 million (£72 million) in the US, according to Universal Pictures, according to BBC.
These successful film releases come at a challenging time for cinemas as they face tough competition from streaming platforms. However, in the UK, Vue cinema reported its busiest weekend in four years, thanks to both Barbie and Oppenheimer.
The cinema chain saw its second-biggest weekend in history by admissions, with Barbie poised to become the biggest film of 2023, surpassing Super Mario Bros.
Vue’s screenings of the two films attracted half a million viewers, with Barbie selling out 4,000 viewings across the UK and Ireland. The movie’s popularity was evident at various Vue locations, including Cambridge, Glasgow St Enoch, Leeds Kirkstall, Bolton, Islington in London, and Bolton.
Oppenheimer, starring Cillian Murphy and directed by Christopher Nolan, revolves around the development of the first atomic bomb. On the other hand, Barbie, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, portrays a coming-of-age story of the beloved children’s character, as she explores her identity and encourages friend Ken to embrace individuality.
The intense competition between Barbie and Oppenheimer was playfully called “Barbenheimer” on social media.
Barbie’s opening weekend ticket sales surpassed that of blockbuster Super Mario Bros, solidifying its position as the biggest film of 2023 so far. The film’s global debut raked in an impressive $337 million (£293 million).
Reactions on social media were overwhelmingly positive, with one user expressing how Barbie had rekindled her passion for revisiting movies, calling it a “timeless masterpiece.” Odeon in the UK reported over 200,000 advance ticket sales, and both Barbie and Oppenheimer were expected to draw around 10,000 filmgoers during their opening weekend.
Barbie’s pre-sale ticket purchases at Vue cinema surpassed all other blockbusters released in 2023, and the film’s Friday admissions reached the highest since the pandemic began, becoming the chain’s third-biggest Friday ever.
Meanwhile, in the UK and Ireland, Oppenheimer earned £8.05 million since its Friday release. During its three-day opening, the film is predicted to outperform Christopher Nolan’s other blockbusters, including Interstellar, Dunkirk, and Inception.
Despite its success, Oppenheimer’s premiere faced some challenges, as stars left the event early due to strike action over concerns about artificial intelligence’s involvement in the film-making and writing processes.
In the international markets, Oppenheimer earned $93.7 million (£75 million), contributing to its global total of $174.2 million (£135 million), as reported by Universal Pictures.