Boxd Office: Hi, Boppie! Barbenheimer’s opening weekend by the Letterboxd numbers

Barbie, Ken and Oppie all enter new worlds. 
Barbie, Ken and Oppie all enter new worlds. 

Barbenheimer becomes the destroyer of records as a miraculous weekend for theaters shakes things up at Letterboxd. Ella Kemp has the ratings, reactions and receipts. 

It’s just amazing to me that this weekend exists.

—⁠Trevor Matteson on Barbenheimer

We are, whichever way you slice it, living through a seismic moment in film history. Writers and actors are on strike, studios are doubling down on their interest in AI and lack of interest in many things actors and writers are striking for. But at the same time as so much is under threat, the last week has been miraculous for theaters all over the world. Who would have thought that two of the biggest films, maybe, of this decade, could coexist so perfectly? 

Even my dad, not quite a cinephile, has been asking me about Barbenheimer. Theaters on every continent sold out with tens of screenings of Barbie per day. Projectionists literally have their hands too full with Christopher Nolan’s 70mm print of Oppenheimer to give time to anything else (at the independent cinema Watershed in Bristol, UK, you can only see Barbie for the next week—the vital, dynamic festival Cinema Rediscovered has taken priority over other films for this theater’s projectionists.) 

Greta Gerwig has made history with the highest-grossing opening weekend for a film directed by a woman. We’re talking $162 million at the US box office for just one weekend—which makes the domestic $82 million for Oppenheimer look like pocket change, until you clock the near $500 million combined number for both films globally. And then, of course, there’s some pretty record-breaking numbers happening in the Letterboxd data as well. 

Let’s start with a number that will have changed by the time you’ve finished reading this sentence: around 900,000 members logged Barbie in the seven days since it previewed in theaters worldwide on Thursday, July 20. Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse had just become the fastest film to hit one million watches at 56 days and that record will change by the weekend.

It’s Gerwig’s highest-rated film, as well as the highest-rated for most of her actors: definitely for Margot Robbie (so long to The Wolf of Wall Street!) and Ryan Gosling (farewell Blade Runner 2049!), and then even the highest-rated film for both Mermaid Ken John Cena and Michael Cera, even though he is just Allan. 

At the time of writing (I have to keep reiterating that because the numbers are flipping so fast), Barbie is sitting at number 207 in the all-time Official Top 250 Narrative Feature Films list, eighth place in the same list specifically from women directors, fourth place in the Top 50 of 2023 and 102st in the Official Top 250 Films With The Most Fans—meaning that Barbie is the 102nd most popular film to feature in members’ four favorites. Felix writes that “Letterboxd is gonna have to change the review system again because this is gonna get 5.1 stars”. Settle down, Felix. 

In the reviews of Barbie we observe two things to be true: a lot of love for Greta and for Barbie, and just as much love for Ken. The kind of love where reviews must speak in character in order to get on his level, to fully convey the full body, mind and soul experience that occurred throughout this lawless weekend. “Barbie is a Ken out of Ken,” writes Neo, while Cindy also has some stuff on her mind: “ryan gosling is absolutely kenning as ken. he’s kenning all over the place. he’s kenning all over everyone. he’s kenning everywhere and he’s kenning so hard that he’s gonna ken himself blind if he doesn’t stop kenning.” 

Ken out of Ken stars for Ryan Gosling’s performance, directed by Greta Gerwig. — Credit… Warner Bros
Ken out of Ken stars for Ryan Gosling’s performance, directed by Greta Gerwig. Credit… Warner Bros

But just as Barbie is also about Ken, Barbenheimer (or Boppie as some like to call it) is also about Robert J. Oppenheimer. There is so much love and excitement for Barbie, in part, because there is so much love and excitement for Oppenheimer. And vice versa. Proof: of the 153,000 members who logged Barbie and Oppenheimer between last Thursday and Sunday, more than 90,000 logged both on the same day. Between the 20,000 fans (reminder: members who now have the film in their four favorites) of Barbie and the 10,000 fans of Oppenheimer, more than 800 now proudly display both together.  

As I scrolled through these logs, I found one Letterboxd member, Trevor Matteson, who had watched Barbie four times in theaters and Oppenheimer three times in the space of four days. After we speak, another Barbie log is added. “The only way I can describe last weekend is euphoric—and exhausting, but mainly euphoric,” they tell me. “I was obsessed with Barbie from the first frame, and getting to experience it with new audiences, family members and friends all weekend was so special. Oppenheimer felt like a challenge. Engaging with the film for a total of nine hours over the course of three days was incredibly draining, but so rewarding.” 

Barbie did numbers, but Oppie performed, too. We’re talking number 52 in the all-time Top 250, number two in the 2023 Top 250 (behind Spider-Verse), 208th in terms of most fans, and rated second-highest only to Nolan and star Cillian Murphy’s previous collaboration, The Dark Knight. In a cast of absolute stars, Oppenheimer is now the highest-rated film for Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Kenneth Branagh, Florence Pugh and Robert Downey Jr. All the avengers and little women of the world never stood a chance. 

But what was the impact of watching both films on the same day? A plastic-fantastic existential feminist comedy, made in the world created by Oppenheimer and his physicist friends. A monstrous invention created to bring peace, so that we might sit in air-conditioned cinemas watching Gosling and the other Kens in a dream musical on a soundstage painted in the colors of the trans flag. There’s the cinematic fun of seeing both films on the same day—“dressed for Barbie, watched Oppenheimer,” as Alexandra writes—and then there’s the psychic effect.

Setting aside many thousands of brilliant, eloquent reviews for each film as its own artwork, I searched for those that address the dichotomy. Reflecting on their Barbenheimer experience, Astralx has some strong advice: “Watched Oppenheimer and Barbie the same day with a single hr long break between, with Oppenheimer first. Verdict is: OppenheimerBarbie if you want to end on a fun note. BarbieOppenheimer to actually process what happened in Oppenheimer (and would’ve been my preferred order).” 

Griffin has the opposite advice, with excellent justification: “I recommend Oppenheimer and then Barbie because Oppenheimer has one of the greatest first lines and Barbie has one of the greatest final lines.” Spicya has another suggestion altogether for the “Barbenheimer watchers debating what to watch first. Barbie then Oppenheimer or Oppenheimer then Barbie. But the real sequence should be Oppenheimer then Grave of the Fireflies.”

Or maybe you are not a Barbenheimer kind of girl or guy. The third-most popular review of Oppenheimer mentions Gerwig’s film specifically to explain why they were not partaking in a Barbenheimer day. “Kinda speechless ngl,” writes James. “Glad I decided to see Barbie tomorrow cause this is NOT a feature you want to pair with anything. Gonna spend the rest of the day lying down, trying to process all of this, and crying. Or maybe I’ll just play more Pikmin 4 idk.” 

The debate persists: if you’re still planning to watch both on the same day, which one first? Of the approximately 90,000 members who braved Barbenheimer, we can reveal that over 60 percent of cinemagoers logged Oppenheimer first, Barbie second. It’s a narrow majority. Perhaps the better question is: why limit yourself to one viewing of each? Trevor tells me their Oppenheimer rewatches “kind of happened accidentally. I didn’t entirely know how to feel after my first watch, so I impulsively rewatched it just four hours after my first screening and everything fell into place. On a third watch, I fell in love.” 

Christopher Nolan (center) directs Cillian Murphy on the set of Oppenheimer. 
Christopher Nolan (center) directs Cillian Murphy on the set of Oppenheimer

The lists don’t lie, nor do the curves moving in one direction only. Oppenheimer, best preferred by Letterboxd members with a little pink dessert, is blowing up in the ratings. Barbie is getting more people to theaters than we could have imagined. How gorgeous to unspool numbers tracking both quantity and quality (always subjective, never unimportant) in two wildly different, yet somehow deeply connected, summer blockbusters. 

It’s a record-breaking, expectation-defying time. With great uncertainty for workers—much of the union action is set around the residual value of creative work and the profit that work creates for studio and streaming owners—audiences are playing their part. “It’s just amazing to me that this weekend exists,” concludes Trevor, while quietly planning a few more weekends exactly like it. “Yes, I’ve already made a lot of poor financial decisions on Barbenheimer—so a few more will be drops in the ocean.” 

Finally, a plea from Teddy via a four-star review of They Cloned Tyrone: don’t forget the little guys. “‘Barbenheimer Barbenheimer Barbenheimer’ is all I hear about when this is the true MVP to come out that weekend.”

Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer’ are out in theaters worldwide via Warner Bros. and Universal now. 

Further Reading


Share This Article