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'Barbie' breaks ground with ₦39M, 'Òrìṣà' beats 'Oppenheimer' with ₦27M

It was a tough battle, but Nigerians chose the iconic doll over a deity and Nolan's destroyer.

Oppenheimer, Barbie and Òrìṣà have all debuted in Nigerian cinemas on July 21, 2023

Greta Gerwig’s ridiculously pink Barbie, Christopher Nolan’s bleak historical drama Oppenheimer, and Odunlade Adekola's Òrìṣà (#OrisaBarbieHeimer) debuted all at once on Friday, July 21, 2023, making for an epic showdown.

The first two seemingly had the upper hand, backed by global campaigns and the luxury of being cultural touchstones, while the local production appeared to be overshadowed by the Barbenheimer noise.

However, the recently released figures by the Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN) say differently. Data from ticket sales on July 21–23, 2023, show that the domestic audience went all out for the beloved doll and Yoruba epic over Nolan's dark tragedy.

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Barbie opened with ₦39 million, while Òrìṣà surprisingly surpassed Oppenheimer with ₦27. 58 million. The latter came in at fourth place with only ₦17 million.

Barbie's success comes as no surprise to anyone, with pink being the rave of the moment thanks to an all-out marketing campaign in Nigeria complete with a beach party, a fancy brunch event, a slumber party and a July 20 premiere.

Òrìṣà also made and continues to make an effort with a great premiere in Lagos, followed by smaller ones in nearby Yoruba cities.

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The producer and members of the cast have also been organising meet-and-greets in Osogbo, Illorin, Ibadan, Abeokuta, and other parts of Lagos.

These have all paid off, as the indigenous title is now the highest-grossing opening film in Nollywood and the biggest epic opening of the year.

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While Nigerian fans of the legendary Nolan have been drumming up support for the filmmaker online, very little has been done for Oppenheimer in the promo and marketing department, which could explain its numbers at the domestic box office.

Meanwhile, Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One, which opened with ₦78 million last week, is holding steady in the face of the #OrisaBarbieHeimer competition.

Now in its second week, the latest installment in the popular Tom Cruise-led franchise has earned an additional ₦31. 6 million for a total of ₦118. 9 million.

In fifth place, we have another Nigerian movie, Love, Lust & Other Things, which has now made ₦27. 5 million in three weeks.

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While things seem to be looking good for Nollywood with two local titles in the top slots, their figures still pale in comparison to Hollywood productions for now.

Still, it is noteworthy that Nollywood is putting up a fight, unlike in the past, when foreign movies would come in and immediately take over. It's going to be an interesting time at the domestic box office over the next couple of days.

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