More Big Movies Released on the Same Day

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More Big Movies Released on the Same Day

15 years before “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” faced off at the box office, WB and Universal squared off with “The Dark Knight” and “Mamma Mia!”
Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, Warner Bros., Universal Pictures

  • “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” are both being released in theaters Friday.
  • It’s not the first time two huge movies both dropped on the same day.
  • Insider rounded up more times that movie studios went head-to-head with big showdowns.

Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” and Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” are releasing on the same day in theaters in an event that’s become known as “Barbenheimer” online, but it’s not the first time two big-budget studio films have been released on the same day.

This isn’t even Nolan’s first time as part of a big summer-movie showdown.

There are only so many release dates per year and, sometimes, it’s perfect for counter-programming.

Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. previously battled at the box office 15 years ago when Universal’s “Mamma Mia!” went up against Nolan’s critically beloved “The Dark Knight” in July 2008.

Heath Ledger’s Joker performance helped WB’s Batman sequel easily edge out the musical rom-com that opening weekend. However, both were huge successes: “The Dark Knight” made over $1 billion at the box office while “Mamma Mia!” brought in more than $600 million.

Insider rounded up some of the most unexpected movies released on the same day.

“Grease” and “Jaws 2” — June 16, 1978

“Grease” and “Jaws 2” were released by Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures, respectively.
Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures

“Grease” worldwide box office: $396,271,103

“Jaws 2” worldwide box office: $187,884,007

“Jaws 2” ($9.8 million) may have slightly edged out “Grease” ($8.9 million) when they debuted against each other on opening weekend, but Paramount Pictures’ Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta musical went on to make more money during its theatrical run.

“Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn” and “Poltergeist” — June 4, 1982

Paramount Pictures released “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” “Poltergeist” was distributed by MGM.
Paramount Pictures, MGM

“Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn” worldwide box office: $79,818,511

“Poltergeist” worldwide box office: $77,229,971

Paramount’s “Star Trek” sequel beat out Tobe Hopper’s horror classic opening weekend earning $14.3 million against the Steven Spielberg-written supernatural thriller ($6.9 million).

“Wrath of Khan” became the sixth highest-grossing movie of 1982.

“Blade Runner” and “The Thing” — June 25, 1982

Warner Bros. released “Blade Runner” while Universal distributed “The Thing.”
Warner Bros., Universal Pictures

“Blade Runner” worldwide box office: $41,707,342

“The Thing” worldwide box office: $19,632,715

Ridley Scott’s sci-fi epic starring Harrison Ford won this battle at the box office between Warner Bros.’ “Blade Runner” and Universal’s John Carpenter horror film “The Thing.”

“Blade Runner” opened to $6.1 million, double of the horror classic.

At the time, “The Thing” was considered both a critical and box-office failure, debuting two weeks after “E.T,” before being regarded as a classic years later.

“Ghostbusters” and “Gremlins” — June 8, 1984

“Ghostbusters” was distributed by Sony Pictures and Warner Bros. released “Gremlins.”
Sony Pictures, Warner Bros.

“Ghostbusters” worldwide box office: $296,578,797

“Gremlins” worldwide box office: $153,898,890

Sony Pictures and Warner Bros. were neck and neck on opening weekend when Ivan Reitman’s Ghostbusters crew faced off against the adorable creatures that transform into little monsters if you feed them after midnight.

“Ghostbusters” won the weekend ever so slightly with $13.6 million against $12.5 million for “Gremlins.”

Both franchises are still thriving. Sony recently released “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” in 2021. Max debuted an animated “Gremlins” prequel, “Secrets of the Mogwai,” in May.

“Spaceballs” and “Full Metal Jacket” — June 26, 1987

MGM released “Spaceballs” while Warner Bros. distributed “Full Metal Jacket.”
MGM, Warner Bros.

“Spaceballs” worldwide box office: $38,119,483

“Full Metal Jacket” worldwide box office: $46,358,827

In the face-off between what would become two classics from filmmaking greats — Mel Brooks’ “Star Wars” satire “Spaceballs” and Stanley Kubrick’s Vietnam drama “Full Metal Jacket” — it was Brooks who got the win on opening weekend with a $6.6 million opening.

“Full Metal Jacket” took in $2.2 million, but it was only on 212 screens versus the 1,384 “Spaceballs” had. 

But neither was able to top the box office that weekend in 1987. That prize went to Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd in their movie adaptation of the classic TV show “Dragnet.”

“Hocus Pocus” and “Free Willy” — July 16, 1993

Walt Disney Pictures released “Hocus Pocus” and Warner Bros. released “Free Willy.”
Walt Disney Pictures, Warner Bros.

“Hocus Pocus” worldwide box office: $45,395,069

“Free Willy” worldwide box office: $153,709,806

Disney’s Halloween film starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Midler, and Kathy Najimy may have out-grossed the family classic about an orphan befriending an Orca opening weekend with $8.1 million, but “Free Willy” spawned a trilogy for Warner Bros.

It took nearly 30 years for Disney to release a “Hocus Pocus” sequel with its original stars. It went straight to Disney+ in 2022. 

“Casino” and “Toy Story” — November 22, 1995

“Casino” was released by Universal Pictures. Disney and Pixar released “Toy Story.”
Universal Pictures, Pixar

“Casino” worldwide box office: $116,112,375

“Toy Story” worldwide box office: $394,436,586

Martin Scorsese’s crime drama starring Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci was no match for Pixar’s debut film about a cowboy (Tom Hanks) and space ranger (Tim Allen) toy going from frenemies to best buds.

Opening weekend, “Toy Story” debuted to just over $29 million, nearly three times as much as “Casino.”

Sharon Stone received an Academy Award nomination for best actress for her role in “Casino.”

“Jumanji” and “Heat” — December 15, 1995

Sony Pictures distributed “Jumanji” and Warner Bros. released “Heat.”
Sony Pictures, Warner Bros.

“Jumanji” worldwide box office: $262,821,940

“Heat” worldwide box office: $187,436,818

“Jumanji” took no prisoners as it topped all at the box office this weekend with a $11 million opening.

“Heat” came in third behind “Toy Story” with $8.4 million.

“The Princess Diaries” and “Rush Hour 2” — August 3, 2001

Walt Disney Pictures released “The Princess Diaries” and Warner Bros. distributed “Rush Hour 2.”
Walt Disney Pictures, Warner Bros.

“The Princess Diaries” worldwide box office: $165,335,153

“Rush Hour 2” worldwide box office: $347,325,802

In a perfect example of counter-programming, both titles had strong opening weekends.

But it was Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in “Rush Hour 2” that won not just this matchup but the entire weekend. It took in $67 million. Anne Hathaway’s “The Princess Diaries” came in third with a respectable $23 million.

“The Bourne Identity” and “Scooby-Doo” — June 14, 2002

“The Bourne Identity” was released by Universal Pictures while “Scooby-Doo” was distributed by Warner Bros.
Universal Pictures, Warner Bros.

“The Bourne Identity” worldwide box office: $214,034,224

“Scooby-Doo” worldwide box office: $275,678,613

This might come as a shock, but it was the big-screen version of “Scooby-Doo” that beat out “The Bourne Identity” their opening weekend in theaters.

“Scooby” brought in $54 million while “Bourne” earned $27 million.

“Elf” and “Love Actually” — November 7, 2003

“Elf” was released by New Line Cinema. “Love Actually” was released by Universal Pictures.
New Line Cinema, Universal Pictures

“Elf” worldwide box office: $227,356,156

“Love Actually” worldwide box office: $247,933,248

In this face-off of two beloved holiday movies, Will Ferrell in “Elf” was simply no match.

The comedy brought in $32 million. “Love Actually,” despite coming out of the gates early as it had a limited theatrical release a week earlier, only brought in $6.8 million the first weekend it went wide (though it was only shown on 576 screens compared to over 3,000 for “Elf”).

But, no one was gonna stop the winner of this weekend: “The Matrix Revolutions.”

“The Dark Knight” and “Mamma Mia!” — July 18, 2008

Warner Bros. released “The Dark Knight” while Universal Pictures released “Mamma Mia!”
Warner Bros., Universal Pictures

“The Dark Knight” worldwide box office: $1,006,234,167

“Mamma Mia!” worldwide box office: $694,478,392

Both Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures won big at the box office in summer 2008. At the time, Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins” sequel had a massive opening weekend with $158.4 million.

“Mamma Mia!” may have debuted at $27.7 million domestically, but it had a huge international audience, grossing more than $550 million overseas.

“Mamma Mia!” was the highest-grossing movie musical until 2017 when Disney dropped its live-action “Beauty and the Beast” ($1.2 billion).

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” and “Winnie the Pooh” – July 15, 2011

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” was released by Warner Bros. and “Winnie the Pooh” was distributed by Walt Disney Pictures.
Warner Bros., Walt Disney Studios

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” worldwide box office: $1,342,359,942

“Winnie the Pooh” worldwide box office: $49,871,429

Pooh Bear was no match for Potter. Daniel Radcliffe and his powerful franchise completely obliterated the classic children’s book character as the movie took in $169 million on its opening weekend compared to Pooh’s $8 million.

“Magic Mike” and “Ted” — June 29, 2012

Warner Bros. released “Magic Mike” while Universal Pictures distributed “Ted.”
Warner Bros., Universal Pictures

“Magic Mike” worldwide box office: $167,282,206

“Ted” worldwide box office: $549,368,315

In the battle between Channing Tatum with his stripper clan and Mark Wahlberg with a foul-mouthed stuffed bear, it was the latter that took the opening-weekend crown.

“Ted” brought in $54.4 million while “Magic Mike” garnered $39 million.

“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” and “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” — December 16, 2011

Warner Bros. released “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.” Paramount Pictures released “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.”
Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures

“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” worldwide box office: $543,848,418

“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” worldwide box office: $694,713,380

In the opening weekend, it looked like Robert Downey Jr. and his “Holmes” movie would get the best of Tom Cruise and his “M:I” franchise as RDJ’s title brought in $39.6 million to win the entire weekend.

But “Protocol” feasted on the long game.

Opening on just 425 screens (taking in an amazing $30,000 per screen), it only took in $12.7 million at first, but went on to earn over $200 million domestically; close to $700 million worldwide.

“Holmes” would do lower figures both domestically and worldwide.

“Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Pitch Perfect 2” — May 15, 2015

Warner Bros. released “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Universal Pictures released “Pitch Perfect 2.”
Warner Bros., Universal Pictures

“Mad Max: Fury Road” worldwide box office: $380,080,290

“Pitch Perfect 2” worldwide box office: $287,144,079

Like in the “Sherlock Holmes” vs. “Ghost Protocol” match-up, “Pitch Perfect” won the battle but not the war.

The Bellas won the opening weekend with $69.2 million in earnings versus the $45.4 million “Fury Road” brought in. But “Fury Road” ultimately won out at the global box office.

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