‘Barbie’ beats ‘Oppenheimer’ at the box-office, but together, the two topple all-time records

Moviegoers in North America turned out in force for Greta Gerwig’s comedy 'Barbie', which smashed expectations with $155 million.

‘Barbenheimer’ is more than just a meme (although Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling are still wondering what a ‘meme’ is!). It is, says ‘Variety’, a full-fledged box-office phenomenon.

Over the weekend, moviegoers in North America turned out in force for Greta Gerwig’s neon-coated fantasy comedy ‘Barbie’, which smashed expectations with $155 million to land the biggest debut of the year, ‘Variety’ reports.

But they also showed up to see Christopher Nolan’s R-rated historical drama ‘Oppenheimer’, which collected a remarkable $80.5 million in its opening weekend.

Hundreds of thousands of ticket buyers refused to choose between the seemingly different blockbusters with twin release dates. So they opted to attend same-day viewings of ‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer’, turning the box-office battle into a double feature for the ages.

The two movies worked together to fuel the biggest collective box-office weekend of the pandemic era, as well as the fourth-biggest overall weekend in history.

It’s worth noting the top three weekends were led by the debuts of sequels in massive franchises — ‘Avengers: Endgame’, ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ and ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’.

In the end, though, it wasn’t much of a competition as ‘Barbie’ loomed large over box-office charts, thanks to an inescapable marketing campaign, as well as quality to match the stratospheric hype, says ‘Variety’.

The $145 million-budgeted movie, backed by Warner Bros. and toymaker Mattel, dominated the zeitgeist in the weeks leading up to its debut (even reportedly causing a shortage of the colour pink) to a degree that’s rare for original fare, notes ‘Variety’. (Barbie is perhaps the world’s most famous doll, but the movie isn’t a sequel or part of a pre-existing franchise.)

Audiences and critics, in the words of ‘Variety’, dug the film, which landed an ‘A’ on CinemaScore and scored a whopping 90 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Initial crowds were 65 per cent female, but that’s notable because it’s almost always the inverse for any movie that generates over $100 million in its debut.

Among its many records underlined by ‘Variety’, ‘Barbie’ also scored the biggest opening weekend ever for a film directed by a woman. ‘Captain Marvel’, which was co-directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, previously held the title with $153 million in 2019.

‘Wonder Woman’, from filmmaker Patty Jenkins, stood as the record-holder for a movie solely directed by a woman with $103 million in 2017.

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