Barbie on track to beat Oppenheier’s opening weekend

Barbie vs Oppenheimer at the UK box office
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Awareness seems to be the determining factor as the moment in the Barbie v Oppenheimer battle, with Barbie currently tracking to outgross Oppenheimer

We don’t often cover stories that track projected box-office openings but naturally, there’s a high degree of interest in the battle between Barbie and Oppenheimer which is set to take place on July 21st, 2023. Both films are opening on the same day (something we’ve looked at here) and aside from being expensive studio productions, they couldn’t be more different. One looks like it will offer a riot of colour and laughs, the other prestigious drama served up in arty black and white. Barbie is directed by a leading light of Hollywood’s latest wave of talented filmmakers whilst Oppenheimer is helmed by an acclaimed old hand.

It’s a fun face-off and so far at least, the memes and online chatter about the ‘rivalry’ will have added to the word of mouth surrounding both films. At some point though, each projects respective studio will want that chatter to convert into colossal ticket sales and we’re waiting to see just how that pans out.

Puck News’ Matt Belloni is fond of a prediction or two and he’s used data from Quorum, a pre-release tracking website to suggest that we’re looking at a $45-55 million US weekend opening for Barbie whilst Oppenheimer is on course for a $30-35 million opening. Both films have budgets of around $100 million.

That certainly makes sense, given that Barbie is a ‘four-quadrant’ film and should benefit from family ticket sales. Although much to Tom Cruise’s reported chagrin, Oppenheimer looks to have taken possession of many of America’s premium-priced IMAX screens and so will bring in some extra revenue that way.

If those numbers do prove to be accurate, with the exception of Tenet’s release during the global pandemic, a $35m opening for Oppenheimer would still rank as Nolan’s lowest opening weekend since 2006’s The Prestige. However, Nolan’s films do tend to hold audience numbers for longer than most so losing the opening weekend battle to Barbie doesn’t automatically mean that Oppenheimer has lost the war. We’ll bring you more on this one as we hear it.

You can read The Quorum's analysis here.

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