“Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” shattered expectations, fueling the fourth-biggest box office weekend in history.
Filmmaker Greta Gerwig’s female-fueled Barbie opened to a historic $155 million domestically, a threshold usually reserved for male-driven superhero fare or marquee IP, such as the final Harry Potter movie. It came in well ahead of an expected $90 million to $110 million and helped fuel one of the biggest weekends in history.
Barbie — which brings to life Mattel’s iconic fashion doll — is also strutting to big numbers overseas. The pic launched to an impressive $182 million from 70 markets for a global bow of $337 million against a $145 million production budget. It scored the biggest opening ever for a WB title in major markets, including Mexico ($22.3 million), Brazil ($15.9 million) and Australia ($14.6 million). The U.K. led with $22.9 million, the biggest showing for the studio since the pandemic. Barbie wasn’t expected to make a big splash in Asian markets, although it did do better than expected in China with $8.2 million.
In North America, Barbie scored the biggest domestic start ever for a movie directed by a woman, solo or otherwise. The solo crown previously belonged to Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, which started off with $103.3 million domestically in 2017. In 2019, the Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck-directed Captain Marvel opened to $153 million.
Barbie also set a slew of other records, including landing the top opening of 2023 to date ahead of The Super Mario Bros. Movie ($146.3 million). The next closest 2023 launch belonged to Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse ($120.7 million), followed by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 ($118.4 million) and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania ($106.9 million). Otherwise, many releases haven’t been able to inch past the $100 million mark.
It also marks the biggest opening for Barbie stars Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, the biggest three-day opening for a movie based on a toy — eclipsing Transformers: Dark of the Moon ($115.9 million) — and Warners’ biggest opening for a non-D.C. pic or a sequel.
Gerwig’s film towered over Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, the weekend’s other new wide release.
Not that Oppenheimer, from Universal, is any slouch. The three-hour, R-rated historical drama about J. Robert Oppenheimer and the making of the atomic bomb likewise came in well ahead of expectations with $80.5 million. That’s the filmmaker’s third-biggest domestic debut behind The Dark Knight Rises ($160.9 million) and The Dark Knight ($158.4 million), not adjusted for inflation. It also will come in ahead of recent summer pics including The Flash, Elemental and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.