“Barbenheimer” took the country by storm this weekend. The phenomenon had movie-goers celebrating the release of two very different movies — the pink drenched “Barbie” movie and and the WWII period piece “Oppenheimer” — in the same weekend. “Barbie” ended up coming out on top, raking in $155 million at the box office, according to Box Office Mojo.
Oppenheimer, which is about physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, who led U.S. efforts to create the atomic bomb, raked in $80.5 million to place second for the weekend of July 21-23. “Barbie” made nearly half its earnings on Friday alone, with.
Ahead of their releases, excitement over the movies mutually ramped up after social media users dubbed the dual release “Barbenheimer.”
The Greta Gerwig-directed “Barbie” stars Margo Robbie, Ryan Gosling, America Ferrera and a slew of other actors and actresses who play different versions of Mattel’s Barbie and Ken dolls. “Oppenheimer” stars Cillian Murphy and Emily Blunt and is director Christopher Nolan’s longest film at three hours long.
The social media campaign about seeing both movies in a double feature started after another summer box office star, Tom Cruise, planted the seed.
Thetweeted last month: “This summer is full of amazing movies to see in theaters… I love a double feature, and it doesn’t get more explosive (or more pink) than one with Oppenheimer and Barbie.”
After that tweet, Cruise — and his double feature plan — made countless headlines. “I want to see both ‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer.’ I’ll see them opening weekend,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald while promoting “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One.” “Friday I’ll see ‘Oppenheimer’ first and then ‘Barbie’ on Saturday.”
Meme pages began creating posts about seeing the two vastly different movies — many of them joking there is nothing weird about seeing a female empowerment story and an atomic bomb film back to back. Some created mock movie posters combining the two films — one undeniably associated with pink, the other eliciting darker vibes.
A self-proclaimed cinephile who critiques films on Instagram wrote: “I think it’s wrong to compare these two films, but yet here I am writing this thing about these two films. Two films which are nothing alike (okay, the horses). I won’t compare them at all, but I love how we have the opportunity to go to the cinema to watch two of the most anticipated films of 2023.”
“Barbie” is based on a wildly popular toy that dates back to 1959, meaning it pulled at nostalgic heartstrings for many people who grew up with the doll, abut also explores deeper cultural trends. Director Greta Grewig previously received three Oscar nominations for her films “Lady Bird” and “Little Women.” “Barbie” had the biggest opening for a female director ever, according to Fandango managing editor Erik Davis.
“Oppenhemier” was helmed by Christopher Nolan, a director known for creative storytelling in a series of box office smashes, who has been nominated for five Oscars, but has never won.
Nolan’s 2012 Batman film “Dark Knight Rises” grossed a whopping $1.08 billion – making it the 35th highest grossing film of all time and the second highest grossing film the year it was released, following “The Avengers.” He is also known for hits like “Memento,” “Inception,” “Interstellar,” and “Dunkirk.”
Davis suggested seeing “Oppenheimer” first, then “Barbie,” so you “walk out with a smile on.” “I would say ‘Barbie’ is the movie you see with your friends; ‘Oppenheimer’ is the movie you see on the biggest screen you can,” he said on “CBS Mornings” earlier this month.
However, he added that in his view, “the movie of the summer” is the latest installment of “Mission: Impossible.” (it’s a production of Paramount Pictures, a division of CBS News’ parent company.)
The Tom Cruise action film opened July 12, so it had about two weeks to top the box office before movi goers began to focus on “Barbenheimer.” “Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One” raked in $54.6 million its opening weekend and $99.2 million total gross, according to Box Office Mojo. It came in fourth place July 21-23 weekend, with $19.5 million.