Barbie pounds Oppenheimer's box office, but both movies are dominating

Barbie is set for a domestic opening weekend in the region of $150m, the biggest ever for a movie directed a woman and a sign that a billion-dollar blockbuster may be afoot. Oppenheimer, tonally its opposite in every conceivable respect, is coming in at about $75m. Though a distant second place, it's also a massive hit, lifted by the caliber of its production and the amusingly insane box-office wedding with Mattel's pink nightmare.

A social media driven campaign to see both movies led to a double-feature "Barbenheimer" phenomenon. That could bring a much needed rebound to the movie industry. Summer releases from earlier in the season, such as 'Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny' drew underwhelming box office numbers on opening weekend, drawing $60 million in the United States and $70 million internationally. "Everything about this movie and the toy is fun," Sheri Lambert, a marketing professor at Temple University said on CNN. "I think people are looking to escape." Mattel is also not new to nostalgia marketing, making people "really excited" about movies that take them back to the past, Lambert added.

Together, the two novel productions are a sign that the industry's general box office woes are a matter of creative rot–formulaic sequels and superhero movies drowning in weightless CGI and their own clapped-out lore–rather than all the other things they'd rather blame.