Theaters are witnessing a new revival in 2023

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Theater  — There has been a shift in the box office, which is seeing Marvel and Disney losing its grip on the audience’s attention. While the entertainment titan’s grip on the industry had been strong for over a decade, two movies have come out on top, yielding a power and excitement that hadn’t been felt in a long time.

Barbie and Oppenheimer have both dominated the online world for weeks in anticipation of their premiere, and once they came out to theaters, the two movies quickly became the queen and king of cinema. Such is their power that they have dominated the box office, raking in jaw-dropping revenue..

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Barbeinheimer on its second week

Social media dubbed the double premiere of the Greta Gerwig and Christopher Nolan films as “Barbenheimer,” which quickly gained traction months ago. And so far, Barbenheimer has lived up to its hype, even as it went into the second weekend.

“Weekend two proves the outpouring of interest in ‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer’ a week ago was not a fluke,” said Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

“Both films put up second weekend numbers that would have been considered solid as debuts and reflect two of the best sophomore session holds in box office history.”

Barbie enjoyed continued success, with domestic screenings raking in $93 million in gross revenue. Internationally, it brought in over $122 million, which saw the film become the No. 1 release worldwide.

The Margot Robbie-led film is the largest domestic second weekend performance for studio Warner Bros.

Meanwhile, Oppenheimer continued to hit high numbers. According to estimates from media analytics company Comscore, the Cillian Murphy-led film had a domestic total of $46 million. As a result, Oppenheimer has generated a worldwide total of almost half a billion dollars.

Distributor Universal estimated that the film would become director Christopher Nolan’s largest non-superhero film of all-time across 40 regions. It is also tipped to be his biggest film ever in 28 regions.

The amount of revenue Barbenheimer is bringing in indicates that there is renewed energy, excitement, and appetite for the movie theater experience after the pandemic prompted many studios to resort to streaming.

“Barbenheimer was never going to happen on your TV,” said National Association of Theater Owners president and CEO Michael O’Leary.

“You have to go into the theater to experience it.”

A rejuvenated box office and lively theaters

While the hype surrounding Barbenheimer has been a massive boost to revenues, repeat viewings have also contributed to the box office earnings.

According to midwest-based chain B&B Theaters, more than 2,100 people watched Barbie in the last two weekends while almost 500 returned for Oppenheimer across its 55 theaters.

For most people, Hollywood and the movie industry are one and the same.O’Leary noted that the United States has always had a sense of a strong movie theater culture.

Following the pandemic’s disastrous impact on theaters and public screenings, he said that people are eager to sit in a theater with a world-class projection screening the movie, surrounded by an atmospheric sound system, and enjoying an immersive experience with others.

O’Leary also said that Barbie and Oppenheimer will only trigger more people to return to the theaters by reminding them of how good the theatrical experience can be.

“It’s a reawakening,” he added.

“At their core, consumers want to go see a compelling story, they want to be entertained,” explained O’Leary. “If stories resonate with people… they tell other people.”


The reception for Barbie and Oppenheimer has been overwhelmingly positive, but analysts have also chalked up a line that could hinder the momentum. As the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes continue, the financial successes are still overshadowed.

“There’s pressure to resolve (these labor disputes) because the possibility of revenue is built on the foundation of having movies and actors to promote them,” explained Dergarabedian.

“For now we have high-profile films, but that pool will be drying out.”

Furthermore, the production limbo created by a lack of negotiations on the studios’ side is creating a domino effect which could see the release date for several projects to be postponed. Boxoffice Pro chief analyst Shawn Robbins said that for the second half of 2023 and the entirety of 2024, theater chains would have to keep a “weather eye on the horizon for problems beyond their control.”

“While it’s important to celebrate the good times right now and realize they can be a barometer for the future, it’s just as important to recognize the fight for equality by so many who play a part in creating the content we see on our screens, large and small,” Robbins added.