‘Barbenheimer’ Gives Theater Owners a $235 Million Dream Weekend

“Barbie” is the queen of the box office, giving theaters their best opening weekend since 2019.

Director Greta Gerwig’s film based on Mattel’s most famous toy took in $155 million in the U.S. and $337 million worldwide, according to data from reseacher Comscore.

In second place was Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer,” which debuted with $80 million.

The two movies, dubbed “Barbenheimer” on social media, had made for an unlikely, much-hyped, double-feature: a bubblegum-pink comedy paired with a stark, three-hour epic about the creation of the atomic bomb.

“Original storytelling executed in the right way has broken out in a really remarkable way,” Richard L. Gelfond, the chief executive of IMAX, told The New York Times on Sunday (July 23).

According to that report, IMAX’s theaters accounted for 26% of the “Oppenheimer” turnout in North America, selling out even predawn screenings. 

“These movies weren’t sequels that looked the same as the last sequel in a long-running franchise,” Gelfond added. “You might say people noticed.”

It was in fact “the last sequel in a long-running” franchise that last brought people to theaters in these numbers, when moviegoers gave “Avengers: Endgame” a $400 million opening weekend in 2019. Since then, franchise movies have underperformed.

Barbie has been everywhere leading up to her Hollywood debut, as PYMNTS wrote last month:

“Everywhere you look there’s a new collaboration, from fast fashion to food and beverage to department stores. Apparel retailers, including Gap, Aldo, Forever 21, Primark, Hot Topic, and Spirit Halloween, have launched collections in celebration of the movie release.”

Following Mattel’s expansion in its intellectual property (IP) business in the past year, the Barbie takeover is unsurprising. Mattel’s investment in IP licensing deals not only led to a profitable second quarter but also resulted in a 20% increase in sales. Among Mattel’s licensed franchises are Hot Wheels and Barbie.  

Collaborations, in general, have gained popularity among brands as a means to access new customer bases. 

“Barbie has long been an emblem of childhood memories and nostalgia for millions of people worldwide,” PYMNTS wrote. 

“Collaborations with retailers and brands tap into this sentiment. By incorporating Barbie into their products or displays, retailers leverage this emotional connection.”

Meanwhile, future audiences for “Barbenheimer” won’t have to worry about their seating choice affecting ticket prices, at least at AMC Theatres.

As PYMNTS reported last week, that chain said it was winding down its seat-based pricing initiative after piloting it in three markets.

The Sightline at AMC program, which charged higher or lower prices based on the location of the seat within the movie theater, will wrap up within weeks. The company said it found that 75% of consumers who had previously sat in the best seats continued to do so when the price was raised.

And none of AMC’s competitors decided to follow suit with seat-based pricing, leading the company to end the program “to ensure AMC’s ticket prices remain competitive.”