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'Barbenheimer' phenomenon fuels record-breaking box office weekend

'Barbenheimer' phenomenon fuels record-breaking box office weekend
Margot Robbie 'Barbie' red carpet / © Cover Media

Stronger than expected ticket sales for Barbie and Oppenheimer have fuelled a record-breaking weekend at the global box office.

Greta Gerwig's film about the Mattel doll and Christopher Nolan's biopic about the 'father of the atomic bomb', J. Robert Oppenheimer both debuted on Friday.

Barbie triumphed at the box office by making $155 million (£120.5 million) at the North American box office and $337 million (£262.1 million) globally. Oppenheimer made $80.5 million (£62.6 million) in North America and an impressive $174.2 million (£135.2 million) around the world.

In North America, Barbie had the biggest weekend ever for a movie directed by a woman, beating Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck's 2019 superhero movie, Captain Marvel's $153 million (£119 million).

Barbie also set a host of other records. It now has the strongest opening of 2023, is its stars Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling's best over debut weekend, and it has the biggest three-day opening for a movie based on a toy.

Oppenheimer, which stars Cillian Murphy as the great physicist, ranks as the third-biggest opening ever for a biopic in North America behind American Sniper and The Passion of the Christ. It is also Nolan's biggest opening for a non-superhero film.

The spectacular box office returns have in part been fuelled by the 'Barbenheimer' phenomenon as moviegoers have booked seats to see the two very different movies as an incongruous double bill. Film fans choosing to see both means it will be the first three-day weekend in history in which one movie earns more than $100 million at the U.S. box office and another makes more than $50 million.

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