Coming after a series of disappointing summer releases, exhibitors are eagerly awaiting next week’s “Barbenheimer,” the movie event of the summer. It’s a unique proposition to have two of the summer’s biggest films, BARBIE and OPPENHEIMER, opening on the same weekend. This comes only 9 days after the opening of the summer’s third biggest film, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – DEAD RECKONING PART ONE starring Tom Cruise.
Interest in both BARBIE and OPPENHEIMER has been so intense that some moviegoers take in both movies as a double feature on the same day, with social media naming this phenomenon “Barbenheimer.” AMC announced gleefully that 20,000 of its AMC Stubs Loyalty members have already bought tickets to see both films during the weekend of 7/21-7/23. While BARBIE is expected to win the weekend, both films are on track to have profitable theatrical runs.
It is another indication that the industry has fully recovered from its pandemic woes to see two films with over $100M+ production budgets released on the same weekend. Many had felt that this was no longer possible, with conventional wisdom saying that the pool of potential moviegoers was not large enough to support more than one new major release in a given weekend.
One key to the ability for both films to succeed alongside each other is that they each appeal to different audiences, with Christopher Nolan’s OPPENHEIMER appealing to mature male audiences while Gretta Gerwig’s BARBIE attracts a primarily, but not exclusively, female audience. At the same time, it’s equally clear that many moviegoers are interested in seeing both, signaling a fundamental strength in moviegoing that some have imagined was no longer the case.