Box Office Showdown: ‘Barbie’ Looks to Open Ahead of ‘Oppenheimer’ – Hollywood Reporter

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Early tracking suggests the female-fueled movie starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling will beat acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s epic drama over the July 21-23 weekend.
By Pamela McClintock
Senior Film Writer
Christopher Nolan dropped a bomb in September 2021 when revealing he would make his next film, Oppenheimer, for Universal Pictures after spending years turning out one box office hit after another for Warner Bros., including the Dark Knight trilogy. The split occurred after the studio’s former owner, WarnerMedia, made streaming a priority over theatrical amid the pandemic. Within days, Universal said it would release Nolan’s historical drama about the making of the atomic bomb on July 21, 2023. The date was no coincidence: the mid-summer month has long been a lucky launching pad for the revered filmmaker.

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Warners had already staked out the same weekend for John Cena’s Looney Tunes film Coyote vs. ACME before Oppenheimer came along, but the studio switched course in April of 2022, and pulled Coyote from the calendar, announcing it would instead open Barbie on July 21, 2023.
At the time, most analysts didn’t give the contest between the two films much thought, considering that a Barbie movie had languished in development for years before moving from Sony to Warners. But in recent months, the film has turned into a social media phenomenon. Preliminary tracking indicates Barbie will win the July 21-23 weekend ahead of Oppenheimer, according to sources with access to various polling services.
For Oppenheimer — an R-rated, three-hour drama targeting adults — having legs could prove far more important than its opening weekend haul. Yet there is no denying that filmmakers care deeply about a film’s theatrical performance and topping the chart in its first weekend. Nolan has come in No. 2 before; in 2014, Interstellar opened behind Disney’s Big Hero 6, on its way to $701.7 million globally.
The new regime at Warner Bros. Discovery is eager to mend relations with Nolan, according to a new Variety cover story. “We’re hoping to get Nolan back,” said Warner Bros. Film Group chief Michael De Luca, adding he believes there’s a world where that could happen. Yet neither De Luca nor his co-chief, Pamela Abdy, was asked whether they ever considered moving Barbie off the July 21 date when they arrived on the Warners lot last year, after being hired by Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav.
The interview sparked chatter across Hollywood, with several box office sources questioning why Barbie didn’t move if Warners was so keen on pleasing Nolan.

Changing a release date is no easy feat, of course, but some believe it isn’t an ideal situation to have two high-profile movies opening on the same date at a time when the box office is still recovering from the pandemic. Others say Barbie and Oppenheimer couldn’t be more opposite in scope and size, and that there’s room for both.
Directed by Greta Gerwig of Lady Bird and Little Women fame, Barbie stars Margot Robbie in the titular role and Ryan Gosling as Ken. At CinemaCon in late April, arguably the most popular attraction at the Las Vegas convention was a Barbie pop-up photo booth bathed in the movie’s trademark pink paint, while Gosling made a huge splash onstage when he showed up in a pink jacket. Buzzy female-skewing titles can transform into box office summer bonanzas, such as the Sex and the City or Mamma Mia! franchises.
Oppenheimer stars Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer, considered the father of the atom bomb, alongside an ensemble cast of A-listers including Emily Blunt and Matt Damon.
The July box office race is shaping up to be quite heated. Paramount and Skydance open Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning, Part One on July 12 domestically, and the event pic will still be a formidable force when Oppenheimer and Barbie open. (There’s even a scenario where Oppenheimer comes in third in its opening weekend behind Barbie and Mission: Impossible.)
The trio of films won’t officially come on tracking until three weeks before they open, but already, the moment of reckoning has begun for all involved.

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