Barbenheimer fever hits the UK with hundreds of cinemas selling out

‘Tickets to Barbie AND Oppenheimer please!’: Moviegoers purchase back-to-back screenings for five-hour film marathon as Barbenheimer fever hits the UK with hundreds of cinemas selling out for their biggest weekend since before the pandemic

Barbenheimer fever has hit the UK as hundreds of screenings for the two biggest blockbusters of the summer sell out across Britain – in a welcome boost to an industry left decimated by Covid. 

Barbie and Oppenheimer are battling it out at the Box Office from tomorrow (July 21) – and look set to rake it in after spending more than $100m each on production costs. 

But with movie fans divided over which film to see first, thousands have decided to buy tickets for both on the same day, spawning the phenomenon known as Barbenheimer. 

Odeon has reported that more than 300 screenings have sold out for both films, and predicts it will sell a million tickets over the next week alone. 

And some 10,000 of its moviegoers have committed to a five-hour movie marathon by seeing both Barbie and Oppenheimer on the same day, along with 22 per cent of Vue customers. 

The Barbie film stars Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as Barbie and Ken, while Oppenheimer follows the real-life story of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the ‘father of the Atomic bomb’ 

The cast of Oppenheimer at a photo call in Trafalgar Square, central London. Left to right: Robert Downey Jr, Emily Blunt, Cillian Murphy, Florence Pugh and Matt Damon

The cast of Barbie. From left to right: Ryan Gosling, America Ferrera, Margot Robbie, Greta Gerwig, Issa Rae, Simu Liu and Will Ferrell attend the European Premiere of ‘Barbie’ at Cineworld Leicester Square on July 12, 2023 in London

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Reactions: Just hours after the Barbie world premiere screening in Los Angeles, the first reactions are trickling in from critics on social media 

Greta Gerwig’s Barbie sees Margot Robbie, 33, leading the cast as the eponymous Barbie doll alongside her boyfriend Ken, played by Ryan Gosling, 42. 

How are you celebrating Barbenheimer? Email me [email protected] 

The cast is a who’s who of Hollywood powerhouses, with Will Ferrell playing the CEO of Mattel, and Helen Mirren the narrator.

Meanwhile Oppenheimer features an all-star cast and is led by Cillian Murphy, who plays the theoretical physicist who helped develop the atomic bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer. 

The movie also boasts a stellar cast including Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr., and Matt Damon.

Thanks to the buzz surrounding both films, Cineworld expects to enjoy its biggest weekend in terms of ticket sales for years, having already sold 200,000 in advance. 

The chain has branded it the biggest opening since the record-breaking Avengers: Endgame in 2019, which brought in £276m over its first weekend alone. 

‘The incredible buzz around Barbenheimer is what cinema and the magic of seeing films on the big screen is all about, and we’re expecting this weekend to be our busiest in terms of admissions since pre-Covid,’ Stuart Crane, vice-president of film for Cineworld, told the Times. 

‘Some of our cinemas have already sold out seven main evening showings for Barbie this Friday.

‘Meanwhile, Oppenheimer pre-sales continue to outperform that of Dunkirk and Cineworld Imax showings for Oppenheimer have almost already sold out for this first weekend.’

Barbie world: The Barbie movie is set to land in theaters on July 21, with Margot, 33, leading the cast as the eponymous Barbie doll alongside her boyfriend Ken, played by Ryan Gosling, 42

Matt Damon (left) is Leslie Groves and Cillian Murphy (right) is J. Robert Oppenheimer in the latest Christopher Nolan film Oppenheimer 

The Barbenheimer phenomenon means that the films – which are vastly different from one another – will not be competing but rather helping one another gain more ticket sales. 

David A Gross, founder of Franchise Entertainment Research, added: ‘The two films are going to help each other, not compete with each other, by creating the kind of excitement we’re seeing for moviegoing in general.’

It comes as moviegoers have taken to social media today to share their excitement of seeing both films on the same day. 

Tens of thousands are expected to take part in the movie marathon in what will provide a much needed boost to the industry – which has suffered a £5billion loss in the wake of the Covid pandemic. 

Debate has ensued on social media over which movie should be watched first.

Sander Wagner, a 40-year-old researcher from Oxford University, said Barbie would be a ‘dessert’ after watching the more intense Oppenheimer.

He said: ‘Oppenheimer’s probably the more heavy movie that, from everything I’ve heard, takes a bit of digesting.

‘I think Barbie is a fun movie to watch after a drink and it works much more like a palate cleanser or dessert.’

Moviegoer shares his ‘schedule’ for Barbenheimer, with just a 15-minute break between seeing each film 

Fans share their Barbenheimer ‘schedules’ and memes ahead of seeing both films in one day 

Mr Wagner and his girlfriend will watch Oppenheimer with friends in Oxford.

‘After that, we’ll have probably one or two drinks and dinner at a bar and then we’ll head back to the movie theatre and watch the 9pm Barbie performance,’ he said.

Fellow moviegoer Matt Durrant, a 29-year-old HR manager from south-east London, shared the view that the Barbie film should be watched second.

‘I would prefer to finish off with a lighthearted thing, because the idea is that I think we’re going to go to the pub,’ he said.

Outlining his Barbenheimer plans, he said: ‘I work for one of those very lucky companies where we get Friday afternoons off in the summer so the idea is that a group of workmates are going to go to the cinema.

‘We’re trying to do it back to back. I’m not sure it’s really figured out but we hope with the timings of the ads and everything that it’ll work out.

‘I think it’s quite funny how they’re both out at the same time and I think that’s kind of part of the appeal for why we’re going to see them at the same time.

‘It’s got a lot of hype and I think lots of people just haven’t been back to the cinema since the pandemic.

‘It’s good to support the arts but also, the only thing I’ve seen since the pandemic in the cinema was the Bond film so it feels a bit like a homecoming for the cinema.’

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