‘Barbenheimer’ movie weekend: Crowds flock to cinemas


Have films – and cinemas – finally made their comeback after the pandemic?

With scores of pink-clad moviegoers taking over theaters over the past weekend to celebrate Warner Bros. say Barbie to experience first hand, the pink explosion has the North American box office Oppenheimer in its debut weekend when the wind blew Barbie raised $155 million (almost R3 billion) – more than double the amount of its competitor.

According to figures from Exhibitor Relations, the other half of the long-awaited “Barbenheimer” film weekend – during which Universal’s much darker biography Oppenheimer was released on the same day – also brought in the whopping sum of $80.5 million (approximately R1.4 billion).

The coincidental release of the two disparate films on the same day – long awaited by many – created a pop culture phenomenon that surpassed the individual marketing for each.

Together, the two films have drawn massive crowds to cinemas, making the picture for the industry – which has been hit hard by the pandemic and the advent of streaming services – look much better.

“The funny part about Barbenheimer is that there are no two films that could be more different from each other,” says David A Gross of Entertainment Research.

“The film industry has a very healthy record for accommodating two big films, and people flock when films that are on everyone’s lips are shown.”

Gross says the first show of Barbie has “shattered records”.

“No comedy film of any kind has ever grossed more than $85.9 million over a three-day weekend.”

Barbie became a film that perfectly captures its zeitgeist. It seems to strike a chord.”

Oppenheimer also had an ‘excellent opening’,” says Gross.

According to industry estimates, around 200,000 people bought tickets for both films on the same day.