- August 2, 2023

‘Barbenheimer’ and Redefining Movie Marketing Strategies

Jason Clough
Jason Clough
Senior Director, Partnerships & Insights
Maite Azkuna
Maite Azkuna
Senior Analyst, Marketing Content & Insights
Paul Dergarabedian
Paul Dergarabedian
Senior Media Analyst
Roberta Cavalcante
Roberta Cavalcante
Senior Corporate Marketing Manager

It’s a critical time for the industry, and we’ve seen a real boost for the theatrical movie business, with the double release of Barbie and Oppenheimer globally.

“Barbie: The Movie” has sent audiences flocking to theatres in droves, igniting a cinematic frenzy like never before! In the UK & Ireland, the opening weekend went up to £18.5 million and in Spain over €5.1 million. As for US domestic, Barbie's $162 million opening weekend proved its appeal to audiences, while Oppenheimer netted an impressive $82.4 million. This performance catapulted Barbie to the top of this year's biggest opening weekends thus far while Oppenheimer overperformed and grabbed a place on the Top 10 list of 2023 debuts in US domestic. This one-two punch powered one of the biggest overall weekends in industry history.

  • Across UK & Ireland, the 'Barbenheimer' weekend delivered the second-biggest market total of all time, behind only the April 2019 weekend when Avengers: Endgame opened. Barbie has jumped into the all-time Top 10s for various metrics, including the eighth-biggest Friday and the fifth-biggest 3-day opening weekend, and brought in a large number of infrequent cinemagoers.
    Lucy Jones
    General Manager UK & Ireland
    Comscore Movies

"It's truly unprecedented to witness not just one, but two films perform so remarkably well and mutually bolster each other with the ‘Barbenheimer’ trend,” said Comscore Senior Media Analyst, Paul Dergarabedian. “I'm hard-pressed to recall any comparable instances in history where both movies experienced growth thanks to their interdependence." he added.

While both films have performed well at the box office on opening weekend, instead of choosing between the two, many spectators choose to cram in both works as a double feature.

“’Barbenheimer’ has exceeded all expectations. This week is breaking audience records only seen in pre-Pandemic times. The most remarkable thing is that it has become an unstoppable social phenomenon and generating massive traffic in movie theaters,” said Comscore Movies General Manager Spain & Portugal, David Rodríguez.

In the age of digital media dominance, social media platforms are instrumental in promoting movies to a global audience in the lead-up to opening weekends.

Looking closely at social media engagement, TikTok and Instagram emerged as key platforms. They fostered engagement with content related to Barbie, Oppenheimer, and 'Barbenheimer'. For Barbie-related content, TikTok outperformed in Spain and the US with over 526 million and 5.2 million social actions, respectively. In the UK, Instagram led with over 120 million social actions. Oppenheimer-related content saw TikTok again leading in the US, achieving 161.1 million actions.

In the UK and Spain, however, Facebook (3.3 million actions) and Instagram (836.7 thousand actions) dominated socials. Content mentioning the 'Barbenheimer' hybrid effect had varied results. It saw less popularity in Spain but received significant engagement in the US, primarily via TikTok (44.1 million actions) and in the UK, Instagram topped social engagement with 4.6 million actions.

Barbenheimer - Social Engagement UK

Barbenheimer - Social Engagement Spain

Barbenheimer - Social Engagement United States

“Oppenheimer," the highly anticipated film directed by a visionary filmmaker, has been making waves with its thought-provoking story. While this movie didn’t capture social attention in the same way Barbie did, it’s hard to envision it would have, since these movies appeal to two very different sets of moviegoers.

The UK Premiere video for Oppenheimer on TikTok amassed 24 million video views in the lead-up to the premiere while Italian social media personality Khabane “Khaby” Lame’s post interacting with actor Robert Downey Jr. about getting the video to the theater for the premiere captured 16M+ views while a Krasinski photo bomb offered a fun cameo for fans. In general, much of the Oppenheimer content has used a clever strategy of leaning into, rather than away from, the fact that the movie opens the same weekend as Barbie – which may actually help.

What sets Barbie apart is its unmatched success on TikTok and Instagram – captivating millions of users with its unique AI filter that transforms selfies into Barbie-like characters as we analysed in our previous blogpost, "Barbie movie" went viral. You might have helped.

The global success of Barbie on social media not only speaks to the platform's reach but indicates the effectiveness of a well-executed marketing strategy. In fact, in a month-by-month analysis, we see that so far in July 2023, content mentioning Barbie has already garnered over 404.5 million interactions across Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and Twitter. The broader take out is that by catering to the preferences and demographics of each social media platform's user base, movie marketers can tailor their promotional efforts to maximise engagement and viewership.

Barbenheimer - Social Engagement Global

There are further learnings for brands aligned with these releases, such as Mattel. Along with its Barbie Social Handles, the craze of Barbieland is successfully reaching out to previously untapped audiences who haven't engaged with their brand on social media in the past six months. We see this play out when we personify the two different social footprints of engagers using Comscore’s Social Affinity data alongside the ability to easily see the massive increase in the number of distinct people who engaged on Instagram, as an example, with the fashion doll and fictional character’s content.

Barbenheimer - Social Engagement Instagram

This newfound exposure to a broader audience presents a key opportunity for long-term growth and market expansion. It encourages marketers to find creative and immersive ways to connect with audiences.

With the right approach, movies can engage meaningfully with audiences before the curtain raises on opening weekend. As the film industry continues to evolve, the role of social platforms will help theatrical releases maximize their reach in the digital era. Measurement is the best partner for ensuring success in flight and gauging impact when a film’s theatre run is complete.

To find out more about social media audiences or box office data, contact your Comscore representative or visit comscore.com/learnmore.

    Global Box Office Reporting

    Comscore Movies platform provides robust tools and detailed analytics to industry professionals including leading cinema circuits and every major movie studio, mini-major...

    Request a demo

    Total Digital

    Comscore Total Digital delivers complete digital intelligence across web, mobile and social with one intuitive, always-on interface.

    Request a demo