The incongruous duo of “Barbie,” a bright pink comedy romp, and “Oppenheimer,” a brooding period drama, combined to sell far more movie tickets than expected over the weekend, pushing its total domestic box office to $311 million, according to Box Office Mojo, an online database. It was the largest weekend haul in North America since 2019, and the fourth largest on record when not adjusted for inflation.
It’s a sign that Hollywood may have finally recovered from the pandemic. (Whether the film industry, dealing with dual writers and actors’ strikes, can keep up the momentum is another question.)
The weekend was also notable for its variety, with “Barbie” grossing $162 million, “Oppenheimer” $82.4 million, and the rest of the features including “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” and “Sound of Freedom” grossing over $66 million.
Typically, the biggest weekends for domestic ticket sales were dominated by a single blockbuster. During its highest-grossing weekend, in April 2019, “Avengers: Endgame” accounted for nearly 90 percent of the box office. By comparison, “Barbie” accounted for just over half of the box office this weekend.
The shocking juxtaposition of a comedy based on children’s toys and an R-rated biopic about the “father of the atomic bomb” was embraced on opening weekend by some 200,000 theatergoers, who bought tickets for the double movie nicknamed “Barbenheimer” (running time: just under five hours).
For movie theater owners, full houses across the country suggested that people were ready to go to theaters and watch more varied films. The audience was about 60 percent female for “Barbie” and 60 percent male for “Oppenheimer,” meaning they all had broader appeal than many initially anticipated.
Brooks Barnes And Christine Zhang reporting contributed.