The UK cinema sector has reacted to the cinema-going public’s astonishing response over the weekend to the release of the films Barbie and Oppenheimer.

In their opening three days on the big screen, Barbie and Oppenheimer took £18.5 million and £10.8 million respectively and – taken with other films on release – accounted for the second biggest weekend total ever at the UK and Ireland box office (£35.7 million), being beaten only by the record-breaking opening of Avengers: Endgame in Spring 2019.

That response was driven by marketing campaigns undertaken by Warner Bros and Universal Pictures, the respective distributors of the two titles, and a huge amount of user-generated content on social media, capturing the excitement being expressed around the phenomenon known as Barbenheimer.

Welcoming the weekend’s extraordinarily positive news, UK Cinema Association Chief Executive Phil Clapp said:

‘Quite aside from those impressive numbers, the sheer excitement and engagement there was amongst audiences for these movies was incredible, and provided further concrete evidence that even despite the pressures that exist on household incomes, the public remains as willing as ever to respond in huge numbers to original stories well-told, well-marketed and made for the big screen.

With an expectation that the school holidays (and unfavourable weather) will only see those box office numbers grow over the next week and more, the release of these two films – and the excitement they have generated – represent further strong steps in the recovery of the UK cinema sector post-pandemic.’