Plymouth Movie Theater Sees ‘Barbenheimer’ Boost
Summer blockbusters have always drawn people to the theaters.
“Yeah I like going to the movies,” said Loganie Chalte, who watched “Barbie” at Emagine Willow Creek in Plymouth. “It’s nice seeing it on a bigger screen.”
But since the COVID shutdowns of 2020, no films have loomed larger than “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer.”
“It is a cultural event,” said Tim Holly, creative manager for Emagine Entertainment.
Emagine theaters, such as Willow Creek in Plymouth, have been riding the so-called “Barbenheimer” wave for the last several weeks.
“We’re three weeks into it and we’re still seeing auditoriums selling out,” Holly said. “But it’s not just selling out, it’s like, people are still coming dressed up and cheering during the movie.”
He’s specifically referring to “Barbie.”
The film, which helps to spark conversations about traditional gender roles, has resonated with fans. It recently topped the $1 billion mark at the international box office.
“I thought it was really amazing, and the meaning behind it, it really touched my heart,” said Chalte, the moviegoer. “Kind of made me emotional toward the end.”
“Oppenheimer,” meanwhile, has grossed half that amount, but is still drawing large crowds. Particularly at Willow Creek, which is showing the film in 70 mm format.
“We’re one of a handful of theaters that was able to get an actual film print of it and play it the way Christopher Nolan intended it,” said Holly, “which is something we don’t do very often, but when we do, it’s kind of a special experience.”
Holly says that thanks to “Barbenheimer,” they’re seeing numbers they haven’t seen since before the pandemic. The National Association of Theatre Owners calls this past July “one of the top-performing in the history of motion pictures.”
“It’s fun when there’s that much excitement in the theater,” Holly said.
However, the writers and actors strike happening right now may have a negative impact on theaters in the coming months.
“We’re paying close attention to it,” Holly said. “We’re definitely concerned.”
He’s concerned because studios are starting to postpone the release of certain films, while others currently in production have shut down altogether.
Now, they’re in wait-and-see mode as they hope for the best.
“Obviously, nobody knows how long this is going to drag out for,” Holly said of the striking writers and actors. “And we’ll take this box office boom while we can in hopes that it rides a little longer.”