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Barbenheimer Hype Has Led to At Least 20,000 Double Feature Bookings For Oppenheimer & Barbie

The hottest movie of the summer is actually a double feature.

By Matthew Jackson
A split screen image of Margot Robbie in Barbie (2023) and Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer (2023)

This summer, the hottest movie event out there isn't one film, but two. Ever since the world learned that US theaters would release Universal Pictures' Oppenheimer and Warner Bros. Pictures' Barbie on the same day, the internet has been making memes in service to the hybrid experience it's dubbed "Barbenheimer." Now, those memes are turning into actual box office dollars.

According to AMC Theaters, the current reigning largest theater chain, at least 20,000 of its customers have already purchased tickets to see Barbie and Oppenheimer on the same day, creating a double feature out of two very different movie experiences. 

“That more than 20,000 moviegoers have already made plans and purchased tickets to see Barbie and Oppenheimer on the same day is a great sign that the growing online conversation around seeing both of these incredible films is turning into ticket sales,” Elizabeth Frank, executive VP of worldwide programming and chief content officer at AMC Theatres, said in a press release obtained by Variety. “Just as exciting, with 10 days to go until these movies open, this may only be the beginning. From Friday to today, we saw a 33% increase in the number of guests who decided to create their own double feature by purchasing tickets to see both movies on the same day. We are thrilled to see this momentum.”

RELATED: Tom Cruise Goes Full Barbenheimer

A split screen image of Margot Robbie in Barbie (2023) and Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer (2023)

As Frank noted, there's still more than a week to go until both movies hit theaters on the evening of July 20, which means plenty of time for even more consumers to make the double feature arrangement on opening weekend and beyond. And this is just one theater chain we're talking about. Regal, Cinemark, Drafthouse, and others are also showing both films, which means even more opportunities for moviegoers to hit up both films at their favorite spots. 

What makes this even more interesting is just how different both films are. Directed by Lady Bird filmmaker Greta Gerwig, Barbie is a neon-colored, self-aware comedy that will explore what happens when the title character (Margot Robbie) starts to gain an awareness of and interest in the "real world," where she's a famous toy icon. Directed by Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer is an epic historical drama about the rise and fall of the title physicist (Cillian Murphy), the "father of the atomic bomb" who came to regret and fear his own creation. They promise very different cinematic experiences, but they are both very specific visions by filmmakers who've got built-in fanbases, so it makes sense that movie lovers are interested in both. 

What remains to be seen is how this will all shake out in the final box office numbers. Barbie is, through sheer breadth of cultural impact, the frontrunner in terms of opening weekend earnings, but Oppenheimer is set to dominate large format screens like IMAX, giving it an edge in terms of ticket prices. It'll be very interesting to see how the "Barbenheimer" phenomenon impacts the summer movie season next weekend, particularly since another major July blockbuster, Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One, starts its theatrical run tomorrow.

Oppenheimer and Barbie both hit theaters July 20. Get tickets at Fandango.