The mismatched pairings of “Barbie”, a hot-pink comedic comedy, and “Oppenheimer”, a thought-provoking period drama, combined to sell more movie tickets than expected over the weekend, bringing the total domestic box office to $312 million, according to the latest estimates, which could change when the final tally is published later Monday. Already, it was the biggest weekend travel in North America since 2019, and the fourth biggest ever before adjusting for inflation.
It’s a sign that Hollywood, perhaps, has finally recovered from the pandemic. (Whether the film business, which is dealing with a double strike by writers and actors, can keep up the momentum is another question.)
The weekend was also notable for its diversity, with “Barbie” collecting $162 million, “Oppenheimer” $82.4 million, and “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” and “Sound of Freedom” collecting nearly $70 million, along with the rest of the features.
Typically, the biggest weekends for domestic ticket sales have been dominated by single blockbusters. During the highest-grossing weekend in April 2019, “Avengers: Endgame” accounted for nearly 90 percent of the box office. By comparison, “Barbie” contributed more than half of the weekend box office.
The jittery comparison between a children’s toy comedy and an R-rated biopic about the “father of the atomic bomb” was embraced by nearly 200,000 theatergoers who bought tickets for the double feature nicknamed “Barbenheimer” (run time: just under five hours) during its opening weekend.
For cinema owners, the packed houses across the country suggested that people were ready to go to theaters and watch more diverse films. The audience was approximately 60 percent female for “Barbie” and 60 percent male for “Oppenheimer”, meaning that each had a much wider appeal than initially expected.
Brooks Barnes And Christine Zhang Contributed reporting.