The “Barbenheimer effect” has taken its hold over the Australian boxoffice, with the arrival of blockbuster blockbusters Barbie and Oppenheimer shattering a host of local cinema records across their first weekend in theatres in Australia.
The Barbie movie, directed by Greta Gerwig and released on Wednesday night, has already generated $21.5 million at the worldwide box office. It took in over twice as much money as its closest competitor, The Super Mario Bros. Movie, which had an opening weekend gross of $10.5 million, making it the most successful opening weekend for a movie to be released in Australia in 2023.
The opening weekend of Barbie in Australia boxoffice was not just the best ever for a film directed by a woman. Still, it was also the most successful launch for a film starring either Margot Robbie or Ryan Gosling.
Oppenheimer, the historical epic directed by Christopher Nolan, too outperformed expectations with a healthy opening weekend gross of $9.36 million. It is the fourth-highest opening weekend for a movie that comes out in 2023, after Barbie, Mario Bros., and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
The three-hour drama about the physicist who drove the construction of the nuclear bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer, garnered the greatest opening weekend total for a Nolan picture in Australia. Its ticket sales were greater by 56% than those of Dunkirk and 26% more than those of Inception.
The combined ticket sales of Barbie and Oppenheimer, along with holdover films such as Mission: Impossible 7 and Indiana Jones 5, led to the highest ever Saturday and Sunday at the Australian box office – beating previous record for Saturday, which was set in April 2019, when Avengers: Endgame was released; and a record Sunday, which was set in December 2015, and was dominated by Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Barbie and Oppenheimer were both released on Friday, April 12.
Together, Barbie and Oppenheimer are shaping up to be a major attraction that will lure moviegoers back to theaters after attendance at the movies experienced a decline as a result of the Covid pandemic.
Both Barbie and Oppenheimer were marketed as part of a double feature that was marketed as “Barbenheimer.” This helped push the success of both films and was made possible by the prevalence of the Barbie marketing campaign as well as the framing of the two films as a double feature. Barbie and Oppenheimer are two movies that have quite different tones.
Both Barbie and Oppenheimer grossed far more than anticipated on their opening weekends in the United States and Canada. Barbie brought in US$155 million (A$230 million) in ticket sales (compared to estimates of $70 million to $80 million), and Oppenheimer made US$80 million (doubling expectations). As a result of the success of Barbie at the box office in the United States, Greta Gerwig now holds the record for the biggest opening weekend grossing for a movie directed by a woman. This record was previously held by Captain Marvel’s co-director Anna Boden.
In the United Kingdom, Barbie has been the most successful film at the box office for the Vue cinema network since the epidemic. Competing theater company Odeon announced on Thursday that it had sold more than 200,000 seats in advance. The movie made $33.4 million in its debut weekend, bringing its total worldwide revenues to $337 million since it was released, while Oppenheimer made $174.2 million.