Barbie or Oppenheimer? Box office says it’s Barbie for the win

'Barbenheimer' rocks the box office

It’s official: Barbie is better than Oppenheimer, at least if box office returns from the twin blockbuster weekend are anything to go by.

Margot Robbie’s Barbie movie debuting in cinemas around the world last Thursday, joined by Christopher Nolan’s biopic, and bringing packed theatres.

Both broke records in a cinematic event dubbed “Barbenheimer”, as crowds flocked to see the big releases.

But it was Barbie that had the edge – making $US337 million ($500 million) worldwide, according to analytic company Comscore. NBC reports that that included $US155 million from more than 4,200 locations in the US and Canada.

Oppenheimer – starring luminaries of the likes of Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr and Florence Pugh – brought in $US174.2 million, including $US80.5 million from more than 3600 locations in the US and Canada.

Australian figures are up to $21.7 million for Barbie, with industry insiders attributed the monster opening weekend to social media buzz.

“This weekend has captured the cultural imagination in an unprecedented way,” US National Association of Theatre Owners president and CEO Michael O’Leary told NPR.

“People … are flocking to the theatres in groups, with family, friends, neighbours, to celebrate two different, but amazing motion pictures.”

Barbie, starring Robbie as the famous doll alongside Ryan Gosling as her Ken, had the biggest international opening for a non-franchise film. It was also the best opening for 2023 so far.

In Britain, movie chain Vue – which has 91 cinemas across the UK and Ireland – said it had just enjoyed its biggest weekend in four years and second biggest weekend in history by admissions.

It said Barbie and Oppenheimer had brought in half a million people, with 4000 sold out viewings for Barbie along across the UK and Ireland.

Vue predicts Greta Gerwig’s Barbie will become the biggest film of 2023, ahead of Super Mario Bros.

“I’m tickled pink at this historic weekend,” said Jeff Goldstein, head of domestic theatrical distribution at Warner Bros, the studio that released Barbie.

“People are having a great time. The conversation is so upbeat and so positive.”

Gerwig, who directed the film and co-wrote Barbie with her husband Noah Baumbach, also broke the US box office record for the biggest opening for a female director.

Robbie talked up the double release at last week’s London premiere of her film.

“I think actually start your day with Barbie then go straight into Oppenheimer, and then a Barbie chaser,” she said.

Oppenheimer is the biographical story of theoretical physicist J Robert Oppenheimer, who was behind birth of the first nuclear weapons in the Manhattan Project.

The BBC reports that Universal Pictures said Oppenheimer was forecast to have a better opening three days in Britain than Nolan’s other blockbusters – space-themed Interstellar, war thriller Dunkirk and sci-fi hit Inception.

Even Mission Impossible star Tom Cruise couldn’t resist. He said he planned to watch both films on the same day, starting with Oppenheimer – although he was quick to suggest his own new release and the latest Indiana Jones instalment made for an American summer “full of amazing movies to see in theatre”.

Comscore has Mission Impossible trailing the Barbenheimer double, with $US74.5 million last weekend.

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