Christopher Nolan Is About To Get Trampled By Barbie

Barbie is projected to make anywhere from $20 to $40 million more than Oppenheimer on opening weekend.

By Douglas Helm | Updated

cillian murphy

Is an atomic bomb or a toy made by Mattel stronger? At the box office, the answer is apparently the latter. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Christoper Nolan’s Oppenheimer is set to be outpaced by Greta Gerwig’s Barbie at the box office over their July 21-23 opening weekend.

Universal is projecting that Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer will have a domestic debut somewhere in the range of $40 million, while Warner Bros Discovery is projecting Barbie to open anywhere between $60 to $80 million. Both of these are impressive debuts, to be sure, but it seems like Barbie‘s potential nearly doubles that of Nolan’s story of the scientist who helped create the atomic bomb.

Regardless, it seems like that weekend is going to be a good time for moviegoers with choices between a visually impressive blockbuster biopic and a star-studded satirical comedy.

It does make sense that Christopher Nolan likely won’t make as much money off Oppenheimer, as the potential audience is a bit smaller. Nolan’s drama has an R-rating, which certainly narrows the pool of moviegoers who might attend the opening weekend. Meanwhile, Barbie has a PG-13 rating and the name of a recognizable IP that will likely help to get more butts in theater seats.

While Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer will almost certainly benefit from the recent social media posts about choosing between the two films or seeing both on opening weekend, Barbie has had the stronger marketing campaign overall.

Greta Gerwig’s film has been all over social media ever since we saw that photo captured of Margot Robbie and a bleach-blonde Ryan Gosling skating in Venice Beach. Hype is certainly at an all-time high for the film, and it’s likely to continue building over the coming weeks.

In any case, both Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer and Greta Gerwig’s Barbie have a lot of goodwill and momentum behind them for their opening weekends.

Oppenheimer is a biopic of scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer that has an incredible cast that includes Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr, and Florence Pugh. Barbie boasts an equally star-studded cast that includes Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Will Ferrell, Kate McKinnon, Issa Rae, Simu Liu, Michael Cera, and Kingsley Ben-Adir.

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If these projections end up being correct, it’s likely that Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer will take the second place spot at the box office that weekend, with Barbie taking first. However, it’s not completely impossible that Nolan’s film will fall to third place if Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One ends up being the box office juggernaut that Top Gun: Maverick was.

Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One opens July 12, but it could easily keep up the momentum if it gets stellar reviews.

In any case, moviegoers have a lot to look forward to in July. It seems like all of these movies will be well worth checking out, so maybe the box office numbers will be closer than the projections think. You can check out Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One on July 12 and Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer on July 21.