For those who haven’t looked yet, it’s happened: Barbenheimer—the portmanteau created by the simultaneous theatrical releases of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer—has its own Wikipedia page. Together, according to Variety, the two films have created “the biggest collective box office weekend of the pandemic era, as well as the fourth-biggest overall weekend in history.”
Aside from the discomfiture that comes from this weekend bonanza happening as writers and actors are out on strike, it’s still refreshing to hear about audiences heading back to the theater, watching movies together in the dark, on a big screen, immersing themselves in a director’s unique artistic vision.
Nolan should be gratified by $80.5 million in ticket sales as of Sunday morning—a remarkable haul for a serious R-rated historical drama about the dawning of the Atomic Age. While it drew a 65 percent male audience compared to Barbie’s 65 percent female audience, many moviegoers saw both films. The National Association of Theater Owners projected that 200,000 people would see both movies the same day on opening weekend.
As for Gerwig’s Barbie, the $155 million domestic take is not only the largest opening weekend of 2023 but also the biggest debut ever for a female director. The movies that came closest were superhero-powered: Captain Marvel (directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck) and Wonder Woman (directed by Patty Jenkins).