Three Reasons Barbenheimer Was Such A Huge Success

The final results of the big showdown between Barbie and Oppenheimer are in. Barbie opened with an astounding $155 million domestically. Oppenheimer came in second with $80 million. This is a huge win. Not just for Christopher Nolan, Greta Wig, and their respective films. But for the entire industry itself. Going into the July 21st weekend, the buzz for Barbie and Oppenheimer was at an all-time high. 

The funny thing is, the reason that these two behemoths competed against one another is due to Warner Brothers trying to hurt Nolan’s latest film. Granted, that rumor hasn’t been confirmed as fact. Whatever the case may be, there are several reasons why Barbenheimer worked so well, and created a sensational buzz that demanded these films to be must-see.

Barbie And Oppenheimer Were Original Content

Three Reasons Barbenheimer Was Such A Huge Success

The biggest takeaway from the event is that audiences still crave original content. It helps that Christopher Nolan and Great Wig were behind these films. They’re recognizable directors for their incredible filmographies. Those names alone got fans buzzing about the two upcoming films. However, summer fatigue has been noticeable this year.

The summer of 2023 has been plagued with mostly blockbusters. There’s been a few small films here and there (Such as No Hard Feelings or The Boogeyman), but the market has been dominated by sequels, reboots, and remakes. Fast X, Indiana Jones and The Dial of Destiny, Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, and The Flash notably didn’t do so hot at the box office. With so many blockbusters crowding the market, none of them felt special anymore.

The blockbusters mentioned above had a wash, rinse, and repeat formula that you’ve seen countless times. Barbie and Oppenheimer felt like an event because they were new. Even Sound of Freedom pulled out strong numbers because it’s something new! Whether you loved Barbie or Oppenheimer, there’s no denying that these two films felt like a breath of fresh air compared to everything else in the North American market.

Political Messaging Didn’t Get In The Way

Margot Robbie in Barbie movie

Let’s get this out of the way – Barbie is a feminist film. Though, this shouldn’t be a surprise since Greta Gerwig is a feminist filmmaker. The advertisements for the movie cleverly hid the true message behind Barbie. It’s a film about a girl’s doll with messages always preaching empowerment, so naturally, its main demographic is going to target women. Barbie was able to get away with its message because the film correctly hit its demographic target.

It’s been well documented in recent times how audiences are done with political films that choose their message first. Neither Oppenheimer nor Barbie showcase any of their signs and were the better for it. Every film has a message. However, when a message has a belief that not everyone is in tune with then it becomes a niche. Barbenheimer was just two films with compelling stories, coming from strong filmmakers. Love them or hate them, the focus was widely on the movie, not a political campaign that would’ve divided the audience.

Oppenheimer and Barbie Focused On Different Demographics

Three Reasons Barbenheimer Was Such A Huge Success

I doubt Nolan and Gerwig thought that Barbenheimer would even be a thing in the first place. There was simply nothing like the buzz that these two films had. Barbie and Oppenheimer had two different demographics. The former was targeted at young girls and the latter was for an older generation. However, Oppenheimer and Barbie felt like movies every cinephile needed to see.

Both films operated on a different spectrum. This meant that it didn’t have a copy and paste feel that most of the blockbusters did throughout 2023. The story, style, cinematography – all of this and more demanded a viewing on the big screen. Focusing on different demographics often feels like a lost art these days. The box office is at its best when multiple genres are playing in theaters. It allows audiences to truly explore a multitude of stories and gives each demographic a reason to go to the theaters in the first place.

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