Oscar Best Picture Winner ‘Oppenheimer’ Is No. 5 In Deadline’s 2023 Most Valuable Blockbuster Tournament

Deadline’s Most Valuable Blockbuster tournament is back. While studios during Covid wildly embraced the theatrical day-and-date model when cinemas were closed, they soon realized there’s nothing more profitable than a theatrical release and the downstreams that come with it. If anything, theatrical is the advertisement for a movie’s longevity in subsequent home entertainment windows. Entering the conversation in 2023 were the streamers, such as Apple, who have also realized the necessity of theatrical to eventize their movies. The financial data pulled together here for Deadline’s Most Valuable Blockbuster Tournament is culled by seasoned and trusted sources.



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Following Warner Bros’ Covid release of Tenet and the studio’s then-aggressive pivot to a theatrical day-and-date distribution model on Max, Christopher Nolan shopped his next project, the World War II-set Oppenheimer, to rival studios. Universal snapped at the opportunity to take on the $100 million production., thought on paper it was a risky bet to get behind a three-hour, dialogue-heavy biopic about a nuclear physicist. No one, not even the studio, saw the pic’s near-$1 billion global gross coming.

Universal honored Nolan’s wishes to open Oppenheimer on the filmmaker’s good-luck weekend — the third frame in July, where he’s bowed such blockbusters as his last two Dark Knight movies and Dunkirk. The studio didn’t flinch when Warner Bros dated Barbie on top of Oppeneheimer; Uni had all the Imax screens since Nolan had shot black-and-white footage in the large format, a first for Imax. Universal didn’t market Oppenheimer as merely guys counterprogramming to Barbie‘s en masse girls. Rather, they sold it as a movie for everybody, and Nolan features typically are an event in themselves. The push message then pivoted to “see both films,” and what happened next was movie marketing lightning likely to never strike again: fans of Barbie and Oppenheimer embraced both movies, passionately christening them “Barbenheimerand making it a destination to see both movies over their July 21-23 opening weekend. During that time in cinemas it wasn’t shocking to see men and women on dates, respectively donned in brown porkpie hats and Barbie high fashion. PLFs and Imax drove close to half Oppenheimer‘s ticket sales during opening weekend. Projections were lowballed at $40M-$50M, the assumption being that fanboys would be the first ones in the door, frontloading the movie. The U.S.-Canada opening came in at $82.4M, and worldwide at $180M. At the end of the day, Oppenheimer won seven Oscars, finally giving Nolan Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director.



Participations here are at $175M and that includes everyone: Nolan, wife/producer Emma Thomas, producer Charles Roven, Cillian Murphy (who landed a Best Actor Oscar win), Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr (who grabbed his first Oscar win here for Best Supporting Actor), Matt Damon, etc. Their back-end deals were largely figured at cash break zero with some other fees. I’m told that the reports of Nolan walking away with $100M are widely exaggerated, with his take somewhere lower than that. The $170M streaming revenue includes what Uni paid itself to stream on Peacock, and it gave Oppenheimer a seven-month theatrical window to Peacock, where the pic became the most watched movie on the OTT service in its first weekend. The digital/DVD window was November 21, four months after the pic’s theatrical date. Net here is $201.9M. Wait till you see what film is in fourth place in our Most Valuable Blockbuster Tournament — it’s a shocker.

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