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Barbenheimer‘s Success Serves A Big Lesson To Bollywood Filmmakers

With Barbie and Oppenheimer, the studios gave the audiences a contrasting but artistically intriguing double features. Result? Both the films smashed the box office expectations.

Aanchal Sharma



Barbie and Oppenheimer Box Office
Barbie and Oppenheimer smashes box office expectations. (Image: Twitter)

THE global cinema faces one of the biggest and most talked about box office clashes in the past few years with two big films releasing on the same day last weekend. With Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer and Greta Gerwig’s Barbie both releasing on July 21, the audiences were surprisingly, not divided, but united and eager to watch both the films.

At a time when film clashes are seen as a form of cold war and rivalry in Bollywood, American filmmakers have given a big lesson to the Hindi film industry. 

Recently, Karan Johar snubbed the makers of Katrina Kaif and Vijay Sethupathi-starrer Merry Christmas for announcing the same release date as his production, Yodha. The filmmaker, who completes 25 years in the film business this year, shared a cryptic note clashing of films.

“Clashing on a date without the courtesy of a phone call is hopefully not the way forward for the studios and producers …. If we don’t stand united in these tough and challenging theatrical days then calling us a fraternity is futile,” Karan wrote via Threads.

The response received by Barbie and Oppenheimer gives a big lesson to Bollywood filmmakers, who talk about business being divided at the box office. Both the films hail from completely different genres, got critical acclaim and have been a smashing success in terms of business.

While Barbie was expected to rake in close to $85-$90 million with its opening weekend, the film shattered the box office expectations and went on to gross over $155 million worldwide. Oppenheimer’s opening weekend predictions were $40-$45 million, but the film collected over $80 million.

With this, the Barbienheimer phenomenon made a smashing box office opening, with over $245 million at the box office in a span of 3 days in the US. Together, the films raked in over $500 million worldwide.

An American trade expert highlighted the audiences’ viewpoint and their delight of being offered two completely different films at the same time. “Studios gave audiences two uniquely different, smart and original stories that were meant for the big screen. People recognized that something special was happening, and they wanted to be a part of it,” president and CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners in the US told Variety.

While Bollywood still contemplates releasing two movies on the same day wondering if the business will get divided, the success of Barbie and Oppenheimer proves that it’s the content that is the true king. Both the films delivered big time when it came to content, and thus managed to become a worldwide phenomenon.

Barbie gave the audiences a glance into feminism, womanhood and what it feels like to be a woman in a men-dominated society. Oppenheimer gave fans the perfect mind-boggling and intellectual experience expected from a Nolan’s film.

During the promotions of their films, the star casts of Barbie and Oppenheimer heaped praises on each other’s films and urged fans to watch both the films on the same day. The entire industry unitedly cheered for both the film and even went on to describe the order in which they would watch the films.

Oppenheimer star Cillian Murphy spoke about how it’s a great time for moviegoers across the world to witness both the films releasing on the same day. 

“I think it’s great. I mean, I’ll be going to see Barbie. I can’t wait to see it. Could spend a whole day in the cinema, what’s better than that?”


He added, “I think it’s just great for the industry and for audiences that we have two amazing films by amazing filmmakers coming out the same day.” Cillian also revealed that he’ll be open to playing Ken in Barbie 2 if given a chance. “Sure, yeah. Let’s read the script, let’s have a conversation,” the actor said.

Margot Robbie too weighed in on the epic clash and said, “It’s a perfect double bill.I think actually start your day with Barbie, then go straight into Oppenheimer and then a Barbie chaser.”

Even Tom Cruise, who is hailed as the true ambassador of movie theater experience and boosting other movies, revealed that he will watch both the films, Oppenheimer followed by Barbie. 

With Barbie and Oppenheimer, the studios gave the audiences a contrasting but artistically intriguing double-bill and brought genuine fervor to the big screen. Between both the films, the audiences laughed, cried, and enjoyed the two biggest, most anticipated features of the year. Result? Both the films smashed the box office expectations.

Instead of changing release dates and cribbing about box office clashes, Bollywood filmmakers need to focus on their content and what they serve to the audiences. Amid the big budget, starry cast and massive promotional strategies, its the content that serves as the true king.

A big Bollywood clash is on the cards in the second week of August. In the battle of sequels, Sunny Deol’s Gadar 2 will be released on the same day as Akshay Kumar’s Oh My God 2. Both the films belong to different genres and have been hailed as anticipated sequels. 

December 2023 will be a big month for Bollywood at the box office: Ranbir Kapoor’s Animal and Vicky Kaushal’s Sam Bahadur will be released on December 1, 2023. Interestingly, Fukrey 3 has also locked the same date as Animal and Sam Bahadur. Katrina Kaif’s Merry Christmas along with Sidharth Malhotra’s Yodha will be released on December 15, 2023.

Will Bollywood script its own Barbeinheimer story with the impending clashes? Time will tell.

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