Box Office Showdown: 'Barbie' Seems To Be Out Before 'Oppenheimer'

Box Office Showdown: ‘Barbie’ Seems To Be Out Before ‘Oppenheimer’

Christopher Nolan dropped a bombshell in September 2021 when he revealed he would be making his next film, Oppenheimerfor Universal Pictures after spending years producing box office hit after box office hit for Warner Bros., including the dark Knight trilogy. The split came after former studio owner WarnerMedia made streaming a priority over theater during the pandemic. Within days, Universal said it would release Nolan’s historical drama about the making of the atomic bomb on July 21, 2023. The date was no coincidence: the month of midsummer has long been a lucky springboard for the revered director.

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Warners had previously eyed the same weekend for John Cena’s Looney Tunes film Coyotes vs. ACME Before Oppenheimer arrived, but the studio changed course in April of 2022 and pulled out Coyote from the calendar, announcing that it would open instead Barbie on July 21, 2023.

At the time, most analysts didn’t think much of the competition between the two films, considering a Barbie movie had languished in development for years before Sony moved on to Warner. But in recent months, the film has turned into a social media phenomenon. Preliminary tracking indicates Barbie will win the weekend of July 21-23 in advance Oppenheimeraccording to sources with access to various polling services.

For Oppenheimer – an R-rated three-hour drama aimed at adults – having legs may prove to be far more important than its opening weekend. Yet there’s no denying that filmmakers care deeply about a film’s theatrical performance and reaching the top of the charts in its first weekend. Nolan has already reached No. 2; in 2014, Interstellar opened behind Disney’s big hero 6on the way to $701.7 million globally.

Warner Bros. Discovery’s new regime is eager to mend ties with Nolan, according to a new Variety cover story. “We hope to get Nolan back,” Warner Bros. Film Group head Michael De Luca said, adding that he believes there is a world where that could happen. Yet neither De Luca nor his co-boss, Pamela Abdy, was asked if they ever considered moving. Barbie from the July 21 date when they arrived on the Warner lot last year, after being hired by Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav.

The interview sparked buzz throughout Hollywood, with several box office sources asking why Barbie it didn’t budge if Warners was so eager to please Nolan.

Changing a release date isn’t an easy feat, of course, but some believe it’s not an ideal situation to have two high-profile films release on the same date at a time when the box office is still recovering from the pandemic. Others say Barbie AND Oppenheimer it couldn’t be more opposite in scope and size, and that there’s room for both.

Directed by Greta Gerwig of Lady Bird AND Little Women fame, Barbie stars Margot Robbie in the lead role and Ryan Gosling as Ken. At CinemaCon in late April, arguably the most popular attraction at the Las Vegas convention was a pop-up Barbie photo booth dipped in the film’s signature pink paint, while Gosling made a huge splash on stage when he showed up with a pink jacket. Vibrant female titles can turn into summer bonanzas at the box office, like the Sex and the city OR Oh mama! franchise.

Oppenheimer stars Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer, considered the father of the atomic bomb, alongside a cast of A-listers including Emily Blunt and Matt Damon.

The July box office run is shaping up to be quite heated. Paramount and Skydance open Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, part one on July 12 nationwide, and the event photo will still be a formidable force when Oppenheimer AND Barbie open. (There is also a scenario where Oppenheimer comes in third in its opening weekend behind Barbie AND Mission Impossible.)

The trio of films won’t officially track until three weeks before they open, but the time for reckoning has already begun for all involved.