What does Barbie & Oppenheimer mean for Broadway?

Breaking News: Movies are back.

Need proof?  These headlines say it all:

  • Weekend Box Office Results: Barbie And Oppenheimer Post Historic Numbers
  • ‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer’ opening weekend sales smash expectations
  • ‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer’ Set Post-Pandemic Box Office High

But here’s a secret.  This return to movie-going glory wasn’t an overnight success story.  This has been coming.

Look at this quote after the close of Q2, before “Barbenheimer.”

While the domestic box office has tallied $4.46 billion in movie ticket sales through June 30, a nearly 20% increase over the same period in 2022, it still lags behind pre-pandemic 2019. – CNBC

Up from 2022, but still lagging 2019.  (Sound familiar).  

The same article states box office is down about 21%.  (Our gross is down about 14%.)

I don’t know about you, but movie theater revenue is down only 21%?  When so much streaming is available?  That seems like quite a good recovery to me. 

Personally?  I’ve been to the MOVIE theater twice in the last three months:  Little Mermaid & Indiana Jones.  (One for my little mermaid, and the other for the crazy-for-anything-Harrison-Ford fan in my family.)  And I wasn’t sure anything would get me back to the cinema.

But we had fun.  And we’ll do it again.  

Big successes like Barbie and Oppenheimer are getting people to the movie theaters – even though the pandemic broke their habit.  

And when people go, and have a great experience, they’ll want to repeat it.  That’s how a habit is born reborn.

“We gotta do this more often,” you’ll hear.

And they will.  

And that habit of going out to experience entertainment, whether it’s a concert (thanks Taylor Swift), a comedy show, or a movie about a toy or atomic bomb . . . will also get people to consider the theater more frequently too.

Rising “in person-consumption of entertainment” lifts all ships.

Unfortunately, our last bit of recovery (and film’s too) is proving the most difficult.  The last folks to get out of their houses are the most stubborn.  And this final bit of recovery may take the longest.

But, we can get there.  It’s going to take time.  How do we accelerate it?

  • Put up shows that people want to see, from comedies to histories.  
  • Provide an attendance experience that is so good, they want to repeat it, not just an entertainment experience.
  • Incentivize them to come back . . . to ANY show, not just our own.  (This is a time for the industry to come together.)

Are you going to see Barbie and/or Oppenheimer?   Are you thinking about it?  Has your movie-going increased recently?  Or do you expect it to?

Let me know in the comments or by sending me an email back.

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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.