“Barbenheimer” is finally here.
The biggest box office battle in years has begun, with Warner Bros.’ “Barbie” making $22.3 million at the domestic box office in Thursday previews. Universal’s “Oppenheimer” made $10.5 million in previews.
The “Barbie” preview haul is the biggest of the summer box office, beating the previous best of $17.5 million from “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.”
Christopher Nolan and Cillian Murphy’s “Oppenheimer” is estimated to open with $50 million, still a worthy second place. It beat the preview gross for “Dunkirk” ($5.5 million), Nolan’s last movie to open pre-pandemic. “Oppenheimer” also beat preview hauls from hits earlier this year like “John Wick 4” ($8.9 million), “Fast X” ($7.7 million) and “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” ($7.2 million).
Both films stand to spin a nice profit during their runs; “Barbie” had a budget of $145 million and “Oppenheimer” cost $100 million. The real winners are, of course, theater owners and the approximately 200,000 “Barbenheimer” fans who booked same-day, double screenings of the films across the country.
Both movies are about globally recognizable figures (one, the physicist who created the atomic bomb, and the other, the most popular toy doll ever) and boast large, star-studded casts. In “Barbie,” Robbie brings the doll to life and travels from Barbie-Land to Earth with Ryan Gosling as her Ken. The cast also includes Issa Rae, America Ferrera, Kate McKinnon, Michael Cera, Simu Liu, Helen Mirren, Will Ferrell and many more.
“Oppenheimer,” on the other hand, traces the life and career of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb, across several decades. Nolan recruited his frequent collaborator Murphy as the distinctive historical figure, and the cast features Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Casey Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Benny Safdie, Kenneth Branagh, Rami Malek and many, many more.
Last weekend’s box office champion, Tom Cruise’s “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One,” will have to settle for third place. It’s expected to gain $28 million to $30 million in its second weekend.