The domestic box office is sizzling.
Both Barbie and Oppenheimer are doing huge business at the Friday box office after scoring impressive preview grosses. If traffic stays this strong, Barbie could open to a gigantic $150 million to $160 million domestically — one of the biggest showings in recent times — followed by a sizable $75 million for Oppenheimer, according to very early estimates. Both movies are coming in notably ahead of expectations.
Barbie earned a huge $22.3 million in Wednesday and Thursday box office previews, the best showing 2023 of the year so far.
That’s ahead of May tentpole Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which scored $17.5 million in previews, as well as this summer’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse ($17.4 million). And, all told, Barbie ranks No. 24 on the list of all-time best previews. (One caveat — the $22.3 million includes special Wednesday screenings in addition to Thursday previews.)
Heading into the weekend, Barbie was tracking to open to as much as $110 million domestically, if not more. That’s a huge sum for a female-skewing event movie. It would also be one of the top openings of the summer season. Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling star in the Greta Gerwig-directed film.
Barbie goes up against Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer in what’s being billed as Barbenheimer.
Nolan’s film had been pacing to open to $49 million. The three-hour movie chronicles the career of J. Robert Oppenheimer, who is considered the father of the atomic bomb. Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt and Matt Damon lead the star-studded cast.
Oppenheimer earned a strong $10.5 million in Thursday previews. That’s likewise one of the better showings of the summer and is ahead of previews for Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning, Part One and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.
No one could have predicted that Barbie and Oppenheimer would be at the center of this summer’s most interesting showdown at the multiplex, considering they couldn’t be more different in tone and scope.
The summer box office could use a lift after several big-budget misses, including The Flash (Warner Bros./DC Studios), Elemental (Disney/Pixar) and Dial of Destiny (Disney/Lucasfilm). Last weekend, Tom Cruise-starrer Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning, Part One fell short of tracking projections when posting a five-day debut of $78.5 million, versus the $90 million-plus it had been tracking to earn.
July 21, 1:30 p.m.: Updated with revised weekend estimates.