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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Barbenheimer: A Box Office Success Story, Second Weekend Sales Beat Expectations

The “Barbenheimer” boom shows no signs of slowing down. Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer have raked in unprecedented ticket sales in their second weekend together, packing theaters and stunning studio accountants.

Warner Bros’ (WBD.O) Barbie showed no signs of slowing down in its second weekend at the box office. It was set to haul in $93 million in ticket sales Friday through Sunday, according to estimates from media analytics firm Comscore. That is the seventh-largest sophomore weekend total in history and puts Barbie just behind Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in terms of all-time domestic grosses. It also sets a new record for the highest-grossing opening weekend for a film directed by a woman, ahead of Louis Leterrier’s Fast X and nearly every movie in the Marvel franchise.

Likewise, Universal’s (UNIC.O) Oppenheimer was also off to a scorching start, with $80.5 million from 3,610 North American theaters for the weekend and the fourth-biggest opening weekend in film history. Its global haul so far is more than $351 million, which puts it in the top 10 of all time for non-Batman films, and just behind Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

Both films show impressive staying power, especially for summer movies, mainly buried by the ongoing pandemic and declining in-person moviegoing. In the era of online streaming, this is rare, and it signals that audiences are still hungry for auteur-driven event movies that do not center on superheroes.

The craze for both movies could continue into next week and give the industry one of its strongest post-pandemic weekends. Combined with healthy holdovers, Disney’s Haunted Mansion and the expected strong debut of The Addams Family could have the market near $200 million.

That would be one of the most significant post-pandemic weekend totals ever, and it would come despite the ongoing threat from the pandemic. With theaters still packed and the industry still trying to figure out how long this era of in-person moviegoing will last, it is good news that things are going so well for movies. However, there is a lot to be cautious about, too. Moreover, the most significant risk is that this will be a one-off, with both titles reverting to their standard patterns in the weeks ahead. That will be the actual test of the longevity of the Barbenheimer phenomenon.

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