‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer’ set for blockbuster opening weekend amid ‘Barbenheimer’ buzz

Two of the year’s most eagerly anticipated movies hit theaters Friday, as “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” kick off what is expected to be a big box-office weekend. 

The two movies have even sparked an internet phenomenon dubbed “Barbenheimer,” with people planning to watch both films on the same day.  

On Friday, AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. AMC, +1.62% CEO Adam Aron tweeted that 60,000 of the movie-theater chain’s Stubs members have bought same-day double-feature tickets for “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer.”

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“Will be a big weekend!” the CEO wrote, noting that the latest “Mission: Impossible” movie and the surprise hit “Sound of Freedom” are also playing in theaters.

A global marketing blitz has generated massive buzz around Warner Bros. Discovery Inc.’s  WBD, -1.37% “Barbie,” which stars Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling and was directed by Greta Gerwig and produced in collaboration with toy giant Mattel Inc. MAT, -0.42%. On Wednesday, Aron tweeted that AMC had ordered 25,000 pink Barbie toy Corvettes, which are being sold at AMC theaters.

“Oppenheimer” is directed by Christopher Nolan and stars Cillian Murphy as the atomic-bomb scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer, and, like “Barbie,” the movie has garnered positive early reviews. “Oppenheimer” is, in fact, being touted as an Oscar contender.

Related: ‘Barbie’ movie might boost Mattel’s toy sales — but it may not do much more for the stock, analyst says

“The motion picture industry is poised for a huge box office weekend with the release of two highly anticipated films, Barbie and Oppenheimer, which are expected to generate a combined global start of over $260 [million],” Benchmark analyst Mike Hickey wrote in a note released Friday.

“Barbie” has presales surpassing Walt Disney Co.’s DIS, +1.13% “The Little Mermaid,” according to Hickey, with U.S. projections ranging from $90 million to $125 million and global projections of around $165 million. “Oppenheimer,” meanwhile, is projected to gross between $40 million and $50 million domestically and another $45 million internationally, which Hickey called “a substantial achievement for a three-hour adult drama.”

The analyst noted that “Oppenheimer” will have a three-week exclusive Imax IMAX, -1.14% run and highlighted recent box-office trends. “Despite the ongoing strikes by [the Writers Guild of America] and [the Screen Actors Guild], the movie industry has seen a 13% increase in box office revenues from the previous year,” Hickey wrote.

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Shares of AMC ended Friday’s session up 1.6% but then rocketed more than 60% after a court in Delaware prevented the company from moving forward with its APE-to-stock conversion plan. Cinemark Holdings Inc.’s stock CNK, -0.83% ended Friday’s session down 0.8%, compared with the S&P 500’s SPX, +0.03% gain of 0.03%. Imax shares ended Friday’s session down 1.1%, Mattel’s stock declined 0.4%. and Warner Bros. Discovery’s ended the session down 1.4%.

Additional reporting by Bill Peters.

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