Barbie Vs Oppenheimer: Barbie wins Barbenheimer battle but both films celebrate box office records

The opening weekend for the competing, highly-anticipated 2023 summer blockbusters has made ticket sale history with a new first.

Barbie and Oppenheimer starring Margot Robbie and Cillian Murphy both opened on the same weekend. (Warner Bros./Universal)
Barbie and Oppenheimer have set box office records in their opening weekend. (Warner Bros./Universal)

Barbie has won the Barbenheimer box office battle, but Oppenheimer still made record sales in the cinema in its opening weekend.

Greta Gerwig's deep but funny feminist parody of the famous doll starring Margot Robbie opened in competition with Christopher Nolan's new biopic starring Cillian Murphy as physicist J Robert Oppenheimer who helped develop the first nuclear weapons.

Barbie took the top spot, making $100m (£77.9m) at the US domestic box office over the weekend, but Oppenheimer still made $50m (£38.9m) - making history as the first time a film has taken $50m in ticket sales at the same time as a movie made over $100m.

Read more: Barbenheimer: The best ways to double-bill Barbie and Oppenheimer

Figures for the UK box office are yet to be published. But Vue cinema chain, which has 91 theatres throughout the UK and Ireland, said it had its highest grossing weekend since Avengers Endgame in 2019 - before the coronavirus pandemic forced cinemas to close their doors.

Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig attend the
Margot Robbie and director Greta Gerwig, whose barbie movie has the highest grossing opening weekend for a film directed by a woman. (Getty Images)

Odeon cinemas reported that more than 10,000 advanced tickets had been purchased to see both films in their opening weekend.

Barbie made £141.9m in ticket sales at box offices outside the US and Oppenheimer took £73m in comparison.

Christopher Nolan and Cillian Murphy attend the London Photocall for Universal Pictures'
Director Christopher Nolan with Oppenheimer star Cillian Murphy. (Getty Images for Universal Pictures)

This meant the total global sales for both films were £398m worldwide, with Barbie making £262.5m and Oppenheimer achieving £135.5.

Oppenheimer was released in 79 territories, while higher-grossing Barbie only opened in 70, with several countries choosing to ban the 12A film.

Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as Barbie and Ken in the Barbie movie. (Warner Bros).
Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as Barbie and Ken in the Barbie movie. (Warner Bros).

Vietnam has banned the Barbie movie over a controversial map of the South China Sea included in the film, while Pakistan has imposed a temporary ban due to the movie's LGBTQ+ themes.

Read more: Is Barbie suitable for kids?

Gerwig's Barbie now holds the record for the highest grossing opening weekend for a film directed by a woman, as well as studio Warner Bros' largest advance sales ever at £38.5m.

Cillian Murphy as physicist Oppenheimer. (Universal)
Cillian Murphy as physicist Oppenheimer. (Universal)

For director Nolan Oppenheimer is only his third biggest box office taking, behind Batman movies The Dark Knight and Dark Knight Rises. But it is now his highest grossing opening weekend in IMAX screenings.

Read more: Oppenheimer: The true story behind the Christopher Nolan film

The new biopic has achieved the best opening weekend for a drama since 2019, overtaking Creed III, and the highest grossing opening for an R-rated film, knocking John Wick Chapter 4 from the top spot.

Watch: Barbenheimer is a box office success all round