After the pause of the COVID-19 pandemic, people were more than eager to return to the movie theater. However, in the beginning, producers didn’t know if movies would do as well as they used to, considering people were still afraid of enclosed spaces. In time, things began returning to normal, and films broke records at the box office. That is precisely what happened with the premiere of Barbie and Oppenheimer, aka “Barbenheimer.” 

Deciding to premiere two major and eagerly-awaited movies on the same day may have been a mistake, but not with these two movies. As soon as promotions began, people were excited to go to the movie theater and do a double feature. Whether you would watch Barbie first or Oppenheimer, the idea was to view both on the same day (if possible).

The plan worked, and The Washington Post reported that Barbenheimer went above and beyond what was expected, shattering the box office. However, this wasn’t the first time two major films premiered on the same day. History shows it has been an ongoing theme.

RELATED: 15 Animated Barbie Movies to (Re)Watch After Barbie (2023)

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan vs. Poltergeist (June 4, 1982)

Movie poster for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and the movie poster for Poltergeist.

One would think if certain movies belonged to a different genre, the commotion wouldn’t be huge, and fans would choose which film they would rather see. However, the fact they are significantly different movies seems to be what motivates moviegoers to attend these special events.

On June 4, 1982, two major films premiered. On the one hand, fans could watch Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, feeding their geeky sides and exploring more of this wonderful universe. But on the other hand, they could choose to be terrified (maybe for life) and watch Poltergeist. Although Star Trek II won the domestic box office, Poltergeist made more money worldwide.

RELATED: 7 Great Star Trek Sequel Stories

Ghostbusters vs. Gremlins (June 8, 1984)

Movie poster for Ghostbusters with a ghost and movie poster for Gremlins with hands holding a box.

Whether you learned about these two films because you were around when they premiered, watched one of their remakes or heard their names on shows like Stranger Things, you know they are pop culture staples. They are the kinds of movies people have watched repeatedly and can quote, with characters that kids dress up as for Halloween.

But before they made their mark in movie history, Ghostbusters and Gremlins faced the box office on the same day, making cinema aficionados choose which one they would watch first. Regarding revenue, Ghostbusters became the second highest-grossing film of the year, while Gremlins took fourth place.

RELATED: Horror With a Side of Cheese: Critters

RoboCop vs. Jaws: The Revenge (July 17, 1987)

Movie poster for Robocop with a robot standing in front of a car and movie poster for Jaws: The Revenge with a shark's head.

1987 had fans choosing between a robot-turned-cop and the revenge of a shark. RoboCop presents an almost apocalyptic world in which RoboCop learns of its creators’ evil plans and turns on them. Meanwhile, in Jaws: The Revenge, Ellen Brody can’t escape the attacks of great white sharks.

Surprisingly enough, neither of these films went on to break records. Instead, a re-release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs took home the gold, while Jaws: The Revenge became a joke amongst fans of the original movie. 

RELATED: Marvel Us Podcast Ep 62 – RoboCop (1987)

Batman vs. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (June 23, 1989)

The Batman symbol on a movie poster and a Honey, I Shrunk the Kids poster with a dog facing a man and small children in between.

With many Batman films premiering over the decades, it is no surprise that on more than one occasion, a Batman movie premiered at the same time as another major film. In 1989, it was Batman’s turn to face Honey, I Shrunk the Kids at the box office. They are considerably different features that went on to have completely opposite trajectories.

Batman was the second highest-grossing film that year. Meanwhile, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids was in the top 10 for the year and continued its trajectory on the Disney Channel with several sequels.

RELATED: 5 Kickass Ladies From the Batman Franchise

The Matrix vs. 10 Things I Hate About You (March 31, 1999)

The Matrix poster with three men and two women standing dressed in black and 10 Things I Hate About You poster with a girl sitting on a couch and a man standing behind her.

If you think that Barbenheimer was the first time two polar opposite films premiered on the same day, you might want to revisit cinema history. Back in 1999, the same happened when The Matrix and 10 Things I Hate About You hit the box office on March 31. While one introduced a sci-fi world that made you choose between a red and blue pill, the other followed a love story between two teenagers.

Most would have thought a rom-com would tank when placed against Keanu Reeves, but the truth is that Heath Ledger did better than expected, and 10 Things I Hate About You did incredible numbers. Like Barbie, it proved not everyone watches sci-fi, historical fiction and action. 

RELATED: Movie Review – John Wick: Chapter 4

The Dark Knight vs. Mamma Mia! (July 18, 2008)

The Dark Knight poster with Batman in his motorcycle and Mamma Mia poster with the cast posing in their wedding outfits.

2008 had another Batman movie facing an unexpected competitor. While everyone expected The Dark Knight to do impressive numbers at the box office, most people were surprised to hear that Mamma Mia! was doing just as well worldwide. A world-renowned superhero went up against famous ABBA songs and a memorable cast.

As wonderful and joyful as Mamma Mia! was, The Dark Knight still took the gold. The movie became the year’s highest-grossing film, while the musical made over $600 million worldwide. It proved to be a worthy adversary.


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