Cinemas enjoyed bumper takings over the weekend with Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer drawing huge crowds in key markets.
Warner Bros’ Barbie movie has become the biggest film of the year at the US box office, taking an estimated $164 million in its first weekend of release.
The Great Gerwig directed comedy beat previous 2023 box office leader The Super Mario Bros. Movie, which took $146 million in its debut weekend.
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Oppenheimer, meanwhile, scored an impressive $82.4m for distributor Universal.
The release of the films is a major boost for cinemas which have struggled since the pandemic and the rise in competition from streaming.
With both blockbusters premiering on the same day, many cinemagoers booked to see both films back-to-back in a “Barbenheimer” cultural craze driven by social media.
According to Variety, this helped to fuel the biggest collective weekend at the US box office since the pandemic.
Vue, the largest privately owned cinema operator in Europe, said it had seen its biggest weekend in four years and second biggest weekend in history by admissions thanks to Barbie and Oppenheimer.
Vue said more than a fifth of its customers booked tickets to see both films. In the UK, Barbie delivered the largest ever opening weekend for an original, non-franchise film.
Tim Richards, CEO and founder of Vue International said: “Vue saw its highest weekend admissions since Avengers: Endgame in 2019 with the release of Barbie and Oppenheimer, proving that when the movies are there, our customers will come to watch them on the Big Screen. Barbie is tracking to become the biggest film of 2023 and has a good chance of getting into the Top 10 highest grossing films of all time. It is an incredibly exciting moment for the industry, and we expect this trend to continue for the coming weeks.”
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