Why box office analysts predict another banner weekend for ‘Barbie,’ stronger legs for ‘Oppenheimer’

Margot Robbie as Barbie smiles in front of a mirror inside a pink doll house.
Margot Robbie as Barbie in the Warner Bros. Pictures release.
(Warner Bros. Pictures)

Hollywood loves a sequel — and the industry has a big one in “Barbenheimer Part II” this weekend.

Director Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” is expected to top the box office again with about $65 million in ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada from Friday through Sunday, experts said, which would be a 60% decline from its record-breaking opening weekend. Some analysts think “Barbie” might do better, given the positive audience reactions and potential for fans to see it a second time.

The film’s Monday gross of $26.1 million was a record for Warner Bros., indicating the comedy is holding strong. Box office estimates for Tuesday indicate the film performed almost as well as on Monday, pushing the cumulative gross to about $214 million.


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Meanwhile, Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” is on track for at least $35 million to $40 million this weekend, which would mark a drop in the realm of 55%, according to industry sources. Analysts also see a chance of upside for the Universal Pictures movie because Imax showings are still filling up with pre-sales well into next week.

“Our models say an ‘average’ drop for ‘Barbie’ would be 62.4%, and for ‘Oppenheimer’ 56.4%,” said analyst Bruce Nash. “So our second weekend predictions right now are $61 million for ‘Barbie’ and $36 million for ‘Oppenheimer.’ ”

“Anything better than that,” the analyst added in an email, “would indicate strong word of mouth. Personally, I think they’ll both do a bit better, but we won’t have a final prediction until we have the full-week numbers for each film on Friday morning.”

A strong second weekend for the films would be another triumph for the “Barbenheimer” phenomenon, which saw viewers flock to theaters last weekend to watch the two wildly different films — one a fuschia daydream, the other a moody R-rated biopic — with some seeing the features in a back-to-back binge.

When studios reported their final opening weekend numbers Monday, the pair had made $162 million (“Barbie”) and $82.4 million (“Oppenheimer”). Domestically, “Barbie” had the most lucrative opening weekend of the year.

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Coming amid dual Tinseltown strikes — and with the future of the in-person theater-going experience looking shaky thanks to the rise of streaming and the pandemic’s knock-on effects — the outsized success of both movies signaled that audiences still have an appetite for auteur-driven event movies (and ones that don’t center on superheroes, to boot).


“From boomers to Gen Z, everyone is seeing both of these films, and that’s not something that anyone thought was going to happen,” said Jeff Bock, senior analyst at Exhibitors Relations. “I’m not sure the high tide is going to lift all boats, but I do know that ‘Oppenheimer’ and ‘Barbie’ will carry over through August and definitely into the fall, which theaters needed.”

On the review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, “Barbie” has a 90% critics score and 87% audience score. “Oppenheimer” sits at 94% among critics and 93% among audiences.

“With neither film facing direct competition, especially ‘Oppenheimer,’ I’m expecting relatively strong holds for both that should generate close to $110 million or more combined,” said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Boxoffice Pro. “Barbie will probably claim first place again, but it will also see a sharper decline than Christopher Nolan’s film as the latter plays to an older audience and will retain its lucrative premium screen footprint.”

Robbins added in an email: “The duet’s success couldn’t have come at a better time for the industry.”

The biggest new film, Disney’s “Haunted Mansion,” is likely to open with $20 million to $30 million domestically.

Times staff writer Ryan Faughnder contributed to this report.


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9:28 a.m. July 27, 2023: This article was updated with Tuesday box office results.